Names get changed for a wide variety of reasons, the least of which is the oft-quoted “name was changed at Ellis Island.” I think you’ll find Matthew Hansen’s column on the subject interesting.

The following teaser is from a great column written by Mr. Hansen and posted in August 6, 2013 edition of

I lean against the bleachers at the alumni banquet, looking down at my name tag and wondering why I’m here.

“HANSEN” my name tag says in black magic marker.

I need a drink, I think.

Red Cloud, like many small Nebraska towns, holds an annual gathering for anyone who ever graduated from its lone high school.

I happened to be in town on alumni weekend this year, and a bit of subtle guilt from my parents got me to attend the cocktail reception.

So here we are. I see no other 1998 graduates — that’s when I donned a purple cap-and-gown — and for that matter I see no other graduates from 1997, 1996 or 1995, either. You know you are from a small town when you end up talking to your Grandpa Richard at your class reunion, which is exactly what I am doing when a white-haired stranger walks up and blows my mind.

She is tiny, so tiny I have to lean down to read her name tag. Hers is typed.

“Ardyce Rose Hanson,” it says. “Class of 1951.”

Read the full article.