I was in 6th grade when I came up with the name for my baby Boy – “Jett Black”. This is the story of how I created that name. This story is being written for Jett.
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The 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classes at Custer school in Berwyn, IL, were all on the second floor of the building and shared a common area between them. This common area allowed the 4th and 5th graders to see into the 6th grade room, and vice-versa.
For two years prior to entering the 6th grade class, I watched the 6th grade teacher rule his class with authority. The teacher was Mr. Robert Morella. He was a big, robust Italian guy that was intimidating and funny at the same time. He did not tolerate any misbehavior from his students. Since Morella understood that the 4th and 5th graders could see him in action, he did not hesitate to show us how he was going to lay-down-the-law when we got to 6th grade.
Morella’s favorite activity was to take his mischievous, 6th grade students out into the common hallway to do the following. He would make the students bend over so that he could spank their ass with this big wooden paddle. This specially-prepared paddle was wide and thick. I remember that it had holes drilled into it for better aerodynamics!
Morella would usually talk very loud before giving a few whacks, just to enhance the dramatic impact. He knew that all the 4th and 5th graders could see what he was doing. He was simply pre-conditioning us for his class! He wanted us to be very well-behaved 6th graders. After two years of viewing this intimidator in action, I was ready for the 6th grade.
My Introduction to Morella
The first day of 6th grade, I decided to sit directly in front of Morella’s desk so that he would know that I was a straight-shooting student. As I would learn, Morella always started the day by making a roll-call. When he got to me (Ken Black), he chuckled and said something like, “Your Mom should have named you Coal Black”! The next day, he called roll again and once he got to me he said something like, “Your Mom should have named you Pitch Black”! The next day it was more of the same but this time he said “Your Mom should have named you Lamp Black”!
At this point, I was starting to wonder why Morella was picking on me in this way. I was already sensitive about my last name because my last name was “Black” and my Mom’s last name was “McMullen”. This was already a huge deal for me to deal with psychologically and Morealla wasn’t making it any easier on me by teasing me about my name.
I honestly cannot remember how long this taunting lasted and how many different names he created, but it seemed like an eternity to me. Eventually, he stopped teasing me but the experience made me think about one thing. I decided that if I were to ever become a father, I would have to create a great name for my son or daughter.
The Name Jett Black Was Born At This Time
The answer to that question became very clear at that time. I was about 11 years old or so and in my pre-pubescent mind, the best name, the coolest name I could think of for a boy was “Jet Black”. I could imagine my son introducing himself as: “Hello, my name is Jet Black”. I felt like this was a name nobody could forget.
I envisioned Jet running down a football sideline and the cheerleaders would be screaming “Go Jet Go!” His name would likely not represent the way that he looked because he probably would be fair skinned with blue eyes, but this contrast made perfect sense to me. I was so sure of this name that I told my Mom and sisters that I was going to name my future baby boy Jet Black.
Fast Forward 37 Years
Fast forward some 37 years later, to the beginning of the year 2011. Around New Year’s day, my wife informed me that she had some news for me.
I was not initially sure what she was talking about, but she quickly dropped that hint that we were going to be adding another child to the family. With me being in my late forties and my wife several years younger, my wife and I had spent the past couple of years preparing to have a baby. We bought health insurance to cover the upcoming pregnancy (if we were lucky enough to conceive) and this caused a 9-month time delay as we had to wait for the insurance to cover our future pregnancy. Due to the inherent risks of having a baby later in life, we decided to wait three months to complete some testing before telling my family the good news.
When I called my sister Dorothy to tell her that we were going to have a baby boy, she asked me, “Are you going to name him that?” I said, “What do you mean?” She said, “Are you going to name him Jet?”.
I was very impressed by her memory. All these years later and she still remembered what I said in the 6th grade. I told her that of course we were going to name him “Jet” because Toni (my wife) was OK with the name and that was the best name that I could ever think of for my son, even though I had never personally known anyone named “Jet”.
Welcome to the World Mr. Emergency
Jett Carter Black was born on 9/1/11 (I named him Mr. Emergency – 911) and he was given the official boy name of “Jett”. Even though I always envisioned his name simply being “Jet Black”, I like “Jett Black” just as much for this reason. The official name “Jett” actually means “jet black (color)”, which has given me the inspiration for calling him “Jet-Jet”! I give thanks to Mr. Morella for the inspiration in helping me find the best name for my son. You never can tell how your teachers will impact your future life!