The Dilemma Of Growing Up In A Family With Two “Bills”

Both my father and I were named William James Marsh. Confusing in today’s age, but my mother did not want to offend anyone, and as her own father was also William James the choice of names for her first born son was obvious. We were both referred to as Bill.

During my childhood years this did not matter too much as when a kid called at the door it was obvious which Bill they were after. I was referred to as Billy when really young and although it was a name I did not like, it helped in those earlier years.

I followed in my father’s footsteps both in radio and the hobby of DX. As I grew older this created a dilemma for my mother. When verifications arrived in the post addressed to W. J. Marsh, she could never decide which Bill it belonged to. I had always enclosed a return address of Master W. J. Marsh Junior to enable the station staff to address my verification correctly. Not too many of the station staff took too much notice of this and invariably the verification would turn up addressed to Mr W. J. Marsh. Luckily there was only about 1 year of overlap, as by the time I became a serious DXer, my dad’s interest had waned. Generally a quick check of both log books resolved the problem.

As I became older and started taking over from my dad with respect to radio repairs and tune-ups, a number of adults started calling in at home looking for me. There would be a knock on the door and mum would usually be the one to answer the door. The usual greeting would, “is Bill home”, and mum would have to ask “old Bill” or “young Bill”. This went on for a while until I came up with the idea of calling my dad “Joe”. This solved some of the problem until my dad started calling me “Joe”. You can imagine what happened next. There would be a knock at the door and mum would reply to the question, was it “old Joe” or “young Joe” you are after. When I got married and moved away from Invercargill the problem resolved itself.

Surprisingly the name “Joe” stuck with my father and when he died in 1994 some of his more recent friends had only ever known his as Joe. One or two of them did not recognise his name in the funeral notice.

The moral of this story is to name your children by any other name.

Bill Marsh (Jnr)