Weather Forecast


(Temporary) signs of the times

I drove by our neighborhood nursing home, Emmanuel, recently and saw a new sign that told me it's not Emmanuel now, it's Ecumen. They've gone from a name from the Bible (meaning "God is with us") to a name that sounds like an insurance company. Reminds me of when Lutheran Brotherhood became Thrivent. Even before the switch to Ecumen, the name was altered to Emmanuel Community. My mother received outstanding care at Emmanuel and I'm sure the same caring people are providing the same personal attention.

There's nothing new about name changes. A political party named the Whigs was organized in this country in about 1768. They opposed British control and supported the American Revolutionary War. Zachary Taylor, a popular Whig, was elected president in 1848, but he was the last Whig president. By 1856, the Whigs were splitting and most of them joined the Republican Party. When Lincoln was elected president in 1860, the Whigs were gone and the Republicans were in. They've been Republicans ever since.

We have a friend named Wayne who is a home builder now, but a few years ago, he was a one-man company that had a very successful business doing nothing but changing the signs of banks that had changed their names. If you want to make a living in an off-the-wall business, changing bank signs is still a good one. Locally, a bank named State Bank and Trust recently became Bell State Bank and Trust. They have many banks and many signs, but a one-man company wouldn't be able to change all those signs overnight. Years ago we opened an account at First National Bank. Later, they became Norwest, and finally, Wells Fargo. I hope they never become Chase Manhattan.

The same thing has happened with hospitals. The hospitals in this area once had names like St. Mary's, St. Ansgar's, St. Luke's and St. John's. But now all the hospitals around here are Essentia (they were Innovis briefly) and Sanford. Only Prairie St. John's is still hanging on. It takes a miracle to remain a saint these days. But as the name shuffling goes on, thousands of new signs are required to be made and nailed up.

In the airline business, we once flew Northwest out of Fargo or Minneapolis, but now it's Delta. But with airline companies, it's not so much changing the name as it is the big fish swallowing the little fish and giving them their big-fish names.

Even cities change their names from time to time. In this country, New York was once New Amsterdam. In Turkey, the capitol, Constantinople, became Istanbul. There was even a song about New York and Istanbul. About New York: "Why they changed it, I can't say, people just like it better that way." About Istanbul: "Why did Constantinople get the works? That's nobody's business but the Turks."

When it comes to changing names, I say hurray, let the good times roll. Every time those big Whigs, like the banks, hospitals, airlines or even cities, decide on a name change they are stimulating the economy -- Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. People are put to work to design new logos, make new signs, new stationery, new name badges, new ballpoint pens, new brochures, new caps, new company workshirts, T shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies. Hopefully, those jobs are in the USA and not China.

Yes, the more name changes, the better. But just this one bit of advice to the Whigs: Don't chisel new names in stone -- they're only temporary.