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Eldnar Randle: Did he know?

Eldnar Randle was born in Delano, California in 1892 and died in 1973 in Oregon.  For most of his working years he was an auto mechanic. But he shared a distinction shared by only 1 in over 700,000 Americans. Any guesses? A clue:  Look closely at his name.

Yes, Eldnar Randle was given a palindromic name. It reads the same backwards and forwards. This phenomenon is quite rare. A search of the 88 million names in the Social Security Master Death File (SSMDF) shows only 119 cases, including:

  • Leon Noel (many examples)
  • Welles Sellew
  • Grey Yerg
  • Ekard Drake
  • Ronoel Leonor
  • Rello Oller
  • Nilrah Harlin
  • Nella Allen
  • Revilo Oliver
  • Ronnoc Connor
  • Folke Eklof
  • Marlys Sylram
  • Elah Hale
  • Gnal Lang
  • Lemar Ramel
  • Ecallaw Wallace
  • Rednal Lander
  • Ellen Nelle
  • Oirolf Florio
  • Italo Olati

The question that came to mind was, how many of these were intentional, picked by the parents specifically to be palindromes, and which ones were just pure chance? Given names are often picked to honor some relative, often a parent or grandparent. Picking an unusual name, never used in the family before, probably has a story behind it. Some of the names certainly look a bit far-fetched. Ecallaw Wallace? But others sound quite natural, like Nella Allen. And Eldnar Randle? It is hard to tell. Looking at the 1900 census I  see his father was a farm laborer and his mother a housewife. Both were literate. None of the other children had unusual names. But somehow he received the invented named “Eldnar.”

Riew Weir? No, I don’t think that would have worked.

Are there any other examples of world play in names that it is worth looking for among the 88 million names in the SSMDF?  Anagrams?  Something else?

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Karellen 2015/08/26, 16:35

    It’s interesting that all of the examples you’ve included use the full surname backwards as the forename, where that’s not actually required for the name to be palindromic. e.g. Nell Allen would also be palindromic. Not only that, a more lopsided name like Nella Boballen (or Nellabob Allen) would also work.

    Were there any examples at all of such palindromes in your search, or did every single one just have the full surname backwards? Were there any palindromic names which included a middle name? (Bonus points for a non-symmetrically spaced middle name resulting in a palindrome!)

    • Rob 2015/08/27, 13:43

      Good point. The algorithm I used look at the full name, including the space between given and surname. With that approach something like “Nell Allen” would not match. I can try it with ignoring spaces and see if it finds more interesting examples.

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