Just a Wee Blether…

About the Schmucks and Eagleburgers

The Mooch’s madcap stint at the White House was all too brief in my opinion. I thought the guy was absolutely hilarious. It was like the Mad Hatter had come to the party, and if nothing else he gave us all a good laugh.

Not least because Anthony Scaramucci was the latest in a long line of Americans with surnames that are memorable to say the least. Scaramucci is actually a relatively, not to mention noble, surname in Italy. But we all knew that during his short spell in the limelight, the lyrics of Bohemian Rhapsody were being rewritten all over the world.

A week ago, one of Trump’s Republican opponents in last year’s election campaign, John Kasich, announced he was contemplating a run for President in 2020, but with a Democrat running mate. The name of the Dem in this highly unusual partnership – John Wright Hickenlooper.

Many families who arrived in the US from Europe changed their surnames over the years. The Hickenloopers are a branch of the family that started out as Heckenleib in Germany and the Netherlands. How they ended up with the slightly weird name of Hickenlooper is anyone’s guess.

John W isn’t the only family member to achieve fame. During the Civil War, his great grandfather Andrew Hickenlooper was a Union Army general.

For many years my favourite was the guy who was appointed Secretary of State by George H W Bush. Lawrence Eagleburger (below) quite honestly sounded more like an item on a Macdonald’s menu than one of the most important men in the country. But how do people get these names? Or is it just some bizarre American game to try and outdo each other?

The wonders of Ancestry.com revealed that the Eagleburgers came to the US from Switzerland in the early 1800s. Only they weren’t called Eagleburger then, they were Eichenberger. Over the decades they morphed into Eggleburger, then Eagleburger. Possibly a census taker couldn’t spell, who knows?

There’s just one more little oddball touch about Lawrence Eagleburger. He has three sons from two marriages. They were all given the same Christian name – Lawrence obviously – and are distinguished only by their middle names.

One of the Arizona Senate seats was last year contested by a Republican with the wonderful name of Frank Schmuck. If he’d been standing in my district, it wouldn’t have mattered what party he represented, I’d have voted for him. Sadly, he didn’t get enough votes to become Senator Schmuck.


If someone calls you a schmuck in America, it’s an insult. It means you’re a bit of a jerk. However, in Germany, Schmuck is a common surname dating back to the 1300s. The word can also mean precious jewellery, or neat and tidy.

But my current favourite is a guy who appeared on the American football scene a few years ago, and whose name raises a snigger only in the UK. Over here, Randy is a common boys’ name, a short form of Randolph. The word doesn’t have the same connotation it does in Britain.


His parents clearly didn’t know either. But cue much British giggling when the Houston Texans unveiled the team’s new place kicker in 2012 – Randy Bullock. He’s been a great success as a kicker, and is now with the Cincinnati Bengals but, seriously, can you imagine going through life with a name like Randy Bullock?

On that note, Happy Labor Day y’all.