It wasn’t until this weekend while visiting my parents in Alabama that I fully realized something: When Baby Jack is born, he will be the only male Shell (beyond me) to pass on the name, unless I eventually have another son. My mom was telling me how we will need to get a “generational picture” taken, including my grandfather (John Shell), my dad (Jack Shell), myself (Nick Shell), and Baby Jack. My dad only has one brother (Johnny Shell) and he only had daughters. And I have no brothers. So Baby Jack will carry on the Shell name, which translates in German as “loud and noisy”.
While the namesake is just that, a name, it still carries on an idea of the people with that name. Not only their bloodline and physical characteristics, but also a reputation of that name. When I think of what the Shell name stands for, I think of my grandfather (who I call “Paw Paw Shell”), my Uncle Johnny, and of course, my dad, because they are the three male Shell’s most closely related to me. They all work very hard, will do anything for the family, will not tolerate any b.s. or drama, are extremely down to Earth, have a passion for classic cars, prefer The History Channel over watching sports on TV, and will always choose the great outdoors over the city life because they all live in the wooded mountains (which is different than living out in the country, by the way).
Physically, male Shell’s are between 5’ 7” and 5’ 11” (no shorter, no taller), have dark brown or black hair, have a thin frame, have a fairly prominent nose (not noticeably huge, but never smaller than average), are known to show up at each other’s houses unannounced, and have a weak spot for Moon Pies. For me, there is just something about being “a Shell” that is distinguished. Not in a classy way like the Vanderbilt name, or Presidential like the Kennedy name, but it’s the idea that when you meet someone with the Shell name, you’ll never forget them. Shell’s stand out from the crowd. Not in a “loud and noisy” aspect like the name actually implies, but set apart in a sense that if you know one of us, you know all of us. And really, that’s how I imagine most families are.
It’s in a man’s heart to want to pass on the family name. Not just for the sake of legacy, but also because of pride. And while pride is typically a bad thing, when it comes to family, pride is a necessary staple. I am proud to be a Shell, and proud to bring another one into this world.
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography: