Fred and Ethel, and their new neighbor

A long long time ago, I played bass trombone in the High School band. We were good, and I still have fond memories of it, now more than half my life away from those marching musical times.

I’m back there now, at least in spirit, after learning I’ve been there all along.

I have one of those names that both names can be first or last, and everyone, especially my band director, used to get it wrong. After some small debate, my friends and I decided I should be known as ‘Fred’, a nickname that stuck. Because I was in the band, and we travelled a lot, I put “FRED” in big masking tape letters on the side of my trombone case, the better to find it after we returned from a band trip (and ego, too).

When I graduated, the year or so behind me knew that I was Fred, not the trombone, but in one of those interesting twists of life, the trombone got named Fred, and it has kept that name. A second bass trombone was procured, and was named “Ethel”, the perfect partner for Fred.

Now they’re to get a third bass trombone, and they’ve been soliciting names. My suggestion is Ricky, but I’ve already named one in this series, and I’m not too proud to think there should be a better name.

What would you name it?


  1. What a fun memory! I wish that I had my name on my instrument (clarinet) the day Mr Clark brought it into me in pieces. It had fallen under the bus and was promptly ran over. There will never be another “FRED”. They can try but will never duplicate. Thanks for making me laugh.

  2. Absolutely, Ricky. Get two characters with one trombone.

    Add Lucy, and you’ve got a set.

  3. Naw!

    Start a new tradition of naming them for 2nd string charactor in early 50’s TV shows, name it “Trixie” or “Norton”

  4. I think Jim may be onto something here!

  5. I liked the way you asked the question: what would you… and not what should I?

    I would think about “Stretch” then rule it out as too trite.

    Then I would probably think about “Tommy Tune” . But that’s too … well, I don’t know what.

    But, here’s the one I would choose: “Lurch”.

    Good luck!