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Jon Olson
Glenn Richter

There’s something about Mary

This just in from the Department of Useless Information: There is something called the National Hay Association. I learned this by listening to Sirius XM’s Rural Radio, which offers programs including “Horse Talk” and “Commodities Wrap,” which is a convenient medium for keeping an eye on sorghum prices and soybean futures, along with news about the prospect that China is going to make a big corn buy this year. Oh, and stuff about puts and calls on lean hogs, whatever that might mean, and the horrors of nutrient stratification, whatever that is.

This stuff isn’t nearly as exciting as government shutdowns and playing the blame game over the faulty health care website, but maybe that’s the whole point. I can listen to farm radio all day long; what I can’t listen to all day long (and don’t want to) is the latest cliff-hanger out of D.C.

The National Hay Association, it turns out, was established in 1895. It has a slogan (“Not for self, but for all”), a code of ethics, a publication (“Hay There!”) and a presence on Facebook.

Anyway, maybe the National Hay Association hasn’t got you on the edge of your seat, but it did make me wonder what other arcane or at least very specific trade associations there might be. So I went online and came up with plenty. Here is a small sampling:

American Amusement Machine Association, American Christmas Tree Association, American Frozen Food Institute, American Pie Council, Association for Information and Image Management, Battery Council International, Bearing Specialists Association, Closure & Container Manufacturers Association, Cordage Institute, Dude Ranchers Association, Electrostatic Discharge Association, Hemp Industries Association, International Council of Shopping Centers, National Algae Association, National Association of Professional Organizers, National Association of Presort Mailers, National Bison Association, National Cannabis Industry Association, National Chimney Sweep Guild, National Pasta Association, National Turkey Federation, Open Mashup Alliance, Railway Tie Association and Resilient Floor Covering Institute.

But before I mail my application to the Resilient Floor Covering Institute, here’s another eruption of oddball factoids I stumbled across online: Maps showing the most popular girls’ names in this country, starting in 1960 with Mary and finishing up in 2012 with Emma, Isabella and Sophia.

This covers a lot of years and a lot of names. There were minor trends for Michelle, Kimberly and Angela, and there was an Amanda belt that emerged in the South from 1979-1981. Then, from 1985 to 1988, Jessica came on strong in the West and Ashley in the East, followed by the Brittany revolt of 1989 and 1990. Then Ashley came back to dominate in 1991 and 1992, followed by an Emily rebellion that started in the Midwest in 1994 and dragged on until 2007.

But nothing in recent years compares to Jennifer, which was the national favorite from 1970 to 1984 — and the unanimous choice of all the states from 1973 to 1978. Go back a ways, though, and it turns out that Mary was the winner from 1913 through 1961 — except for the Linda years: 1947 to 1952.

As for the boys, Jacob was in the No. 1 slot from 1994 to 2012. Before that, it was Michael from 1954 to 1998, with the single exception of 1960, when David pulled ahead. That makes it 43 years for Michael.

But, after leading for 42 years, there’s something about Mary.

Reach Glenn Richter at grichter@record-journal.com.



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