The Naming of Piselm Civ

Birth certificate

From earliest Biblical times we are made aware of the significance of names particularly the names we give our children. There are certain Biblical names thoughtful people should never give their children such as Ahab, Jezebel, Goliath or even Lucifer. On the other hand there are numerous inspirational names from scripture frequently given children such as Moses, Matthew, Rebecca, Ruth and even John. In our culture parents label their children for life with unbelievable names because either the names are popular, politically correct or simply have a certain melodic ring to them.

When I was in medical school on the obstetrical service a few of the older mothers had so many children they had run out of proper names and invited the staff doctors to supply names for their infants. I am aware of two instances in which insensitive and unbelieving doctors gave those mothers medical terms for their babies. The names I saw recorded on the birth certificates were “Alcaligenes” (alcaligenes faecalis, a colon bacterium) and “Escherichia” (escherichia coli, also a colon bacterium). It seemed humorous to medical students at the time, but on reflection those children probably still have those terrible names.

I was discussing unusual names one morning in the doctor’s lounge at Warner Brown Hospital in El Dorado when one of the physicians related the following account of the most unusual name Biblical name I ever heard. His mother had a position with The Bureau of Vital Statistics in a certain California city, and it was her job to verify the names entered on birth certificates in the local hospitals. This particular certificate had no name entered, and apparently the mother had left the hospital before completing the necessary paperwork. Because of this failure she was required to have a personal interview with the mother of the child and not only insert the chosen name but have the mother sign the document. She located the address and found the mother at home. After presenting her credentials and explaining the problem she asked the mother if she had chosen a proper name.

The mother said she had decided to name her baby boy “Piselm Civ.” My friend’s mother asked her to please repeat the name, and this time she said the name more clearly. “I’m sorry but that is such an unusual name would you mind telling me where you got the name and spell it for me?” she politely asked. “I got the name from the Bible, but I don’t rightly know how to spell it.” the mother said. “Would you mind getting me the Bible from which you got his beautiful name so I can spell it correctly?” she was asked.

The mother disappeared into the rear of the house and a few moments later returned with a very large and what appeared to be the family Bible. They sat on the couch together while the mother turned the pages to the scripture verse where she had found the name. The Bible had the chapter numbers of each book in Roman numerals which is seldom done today. The mother finally located the chapter heading in the book of Psalms and found her son’s chosen name, “Psalm CIV” (Psalm 104). “There he is, Piselm Civ!” the mother excitedly pointed out. The name was correctly spelled, entered in the birth certificate which was signed by the mother.

I seriously doubt the gentleman in question is still being called Piselm Civ after at least fifty-five years. Perhaps he is known as “PC” , “Dude” , “Bud” or some other politically correct moniker. Or perhaps he had his name officially changed to John.

Dr. John


3 thoughts on “The Naming of Piselm Civ

  1. This is the second time to hear this story and we may have heard it from the same source. Jim Davidson told me this back in the ’70s as one he heard from Jean Wise. Was Jean by chance the one who told you? And yes, I’ve shared it a time or two but folks have dismissed it an urban legend. Then again, I heard the same type story from the musician Nosmo King… about how his mom saw a No Smoking sign in the maternity ward.

    • You are exactly correct. It was Jean Wise’s mother who worked for the Vital Statistics Dept. in Riverside, CA. and Jean told the story. I think I also heard it from her because I did meet her once in El Dorado. She probably had other similar stories but this was the best one I heard. Hope you are well. Will probably see Rachel and David at the SBC Convention in St. Louis next week.
      Blessings: John

      • Of course, the version I heard had lots more embellishments that I’m sure you edited for space. Please share with David and Rachel I’m preparing to move back to Monroe and join Bill Dye’s North Monroe Baptist Church. I’ll send y’all an email to explain the who and why for the move back to the bayou state.

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