Why I'm "David," and Not "Andy"

 Ahhh, some light on an old, personal mystery—thanks to a clue from James Lileks.

 My full name is David Andrew Holland. My parents meant for me to go by the name “Andy.”  In fact, I did until right before I started first grade when I was five. To this day, many of my aunts, uncles and cousins refer to me as Andy—or the compromise hybrid, “David Andy.”

Why did I suddenly go from being Andy to David? That’s always been a bit of a mystery but I learned some things today that I had been wondering about for almost 40 years.

My mother has always insisted that it was I who, at the age of five, unilaterally and without discussion decided that I would henceforth be known as David. I have no recollection of that. But what I do have is a memory of is being teased about my name by some other kids. In fact, I have a clear recollection of a song being sung about my name (what the Old Testament would call a “taunt song”).

Andy Pandy, Jack-a-Dandy! Andy Pandy, Jack-a-Dandy!

My theory has always been that I had been so traumatized by the Andy Pandy taunt-song that when we moved to another town the summer before my first grade year, I made the switch so as to not carry such an easily-mocked name into a strange new school.

If that was indeed my strategy, it worked! Because from then on, if my name ever triggered a bout of singing by another kid it was invariably, “Davey, Davey Crockett. King of the wild frontier!” And what six-year-old boy minds being proclaimed King of the Wild Frontier? I sure didn’t.

But I’ve always wondered about that memory of the words, “Andy Pandy, Jack-a-Dandy.” My assumption was that they were just nonsense words flowing from the twisted imagination of a verbal bully. . . 

. . .until this morning when I opened up James’ Lilek’s “Bleat” as is my custom.

About halfway down, he included a scan of a Johnny Cash 45 record cover that had been his dad’s. He also showed a scan of the reverse side where James had scrawled his name as a little kid, and where his father had printed the words, “Andy Pandy feet.”

James puzzled over the words “Andy Pandy feet” and speculated that maybe it had something to do with a character named Andy Panda. But I knew better. There it was! The name that I had just assumed was a bratty kids made-up rhyme.

That sent me off to Google where I quickly got thousands of hits on the name “Andy Pandy”—who, as it turns out was a character in a British children’s television program on the BBC. It debuted in 1950 but hit its peak of popularity in the late 50s and early 60s (I was born in 1959). There was even a wikipedia entry!

But that wasn’t all.

About halfway down on the first page of google hit links, I saw it. There was the phrase, “Andy Pandy, Jack-a-Dandy in this link. And this one. And this definition of “jack-a-dandy”:

n.  A little dandy; a little, foppish, impertinent fellow.

Well, that may be striking a little close to home. And based on this series of books, Andy is either a girl, or a very effeminate little boy that plays with dolls:


Nevertheless, what a wonderful thing is this Internet of ours. Today, by chance, the heavy fog around some old memories was cleared. And the reasons behind a five-year-old’s identity change came into sharper focus.

By the way, I was named “Andrew” because that was my maternal grandfather’s name (Andrew Jackson). And back in 1959, my mom thought D. Andrew Holland was a fitting name for a future United States Senator and, this being America, well, you just never know.