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I've been reading obituaries lately, probably because I'm getting older. And it's always the nicknames I notice -- probably because I wanted a good one, back when I was young.

I'm not interested in your Jerrys or your Vals ... names that make life easier. The names that get me are the ones people had to work at -- like "Winch" or "Tickie" or "Speed." No man is an island ... but how many of us have loved ones willing to go out of their way to call us "Jaggers"? And amid the gray, grim columns of the obituary page, a good, playful nickname can seem both a little inappropriate and very welcome: like stifling a laugh when the eulogy reminds you of a joke the deceased used to tell.

The nicknames below all belonged to Pittsburghers who died within the past six months. They were culled from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette classified obits (and their archives on Legacy.com). Often these obits were the first, and last, time the general public ever heard those private names. A sense of mystery is inevitable; I like to think "Dirty Red" was a union guy -- someone who might have rumbled with company goons once. But "Moppo"? "Spooter"? 

The obituary nickname reflects the paradox of the obit section: how private loss is a public event; how we try to sum up a life with a few words; the way we measure our lives by what we meant to others. Maybe a good nickname is all the epitaph anyone needs. 

Ace
Apples
Baba
Babes
Baya
Bean
Big Jim
Big Tom
Bim
Bing
Bingo
Bombo
Bonne
Boo Boo
Boongie
Boots
Bricky
Brownie
Bubba
Buggy
Bumper
Bunny
Bunty
Buttchie
Buzzy
Chick
Chico
Chiefy
Chookie
Chops
Chubby
Cichatone
Classic
Cookie
Cool
Curly
Cuts
Dice
Dindy
Dirty Red
Dook
Doot
Dunky
Easter Bunny
Fish
Foul Fred
Fudda
Fuzz
Gaucho
Gee
Ging
Ginzo-Jimmy
Gog
Gritty
Groovy
Gub
Guffy
Gump
Happy
Henny
Herk
Herky
Honk
Hubbie
Hunny
Inch
Jarvo
Jimmers
John-John
Juggy
Jugie
Juice
Jumbo
Juney
Junnie
Kitie
Lamb
Lefty
Little Will
Littlejohn
Lucky
Luddy
Lully
Lute
Lynnie Boy
Maliz
Mama Gerb
Mazz
Mer
Mince
Minka
Monroe
Moony
Moose
Moppo
Mr. Nice
Mr. Sam
Mr. Z
Mrs. Anjo
Mrs. Bee
Mumzy
Myrel
Nunni
Obee
Packett
Pap-Pap
Peanuts
Peppy
Petty
Ph
Piggy
Pinky
Poochie
Porky
Pudge
Punchie
Rass
Red
Reverend
Rip
Rock
Sabu
Sarge
Schnitz
Shark
Ske
Snooks
Soupy
Sparkie
Spider
Spike
Spooter
Squeak
Squid
Stash
Stine
Stoney
Strawberry the Clown
Stretch
Sudzy
Sundown
Sunshine
Swede
Sweetpea
Teenie
Teffy
Tex
Tink
Tippi
Tish
Toots
Toro
Tuggles
Turk
Tweedles
Vonnie
White-Eye
Wib
Wick
Wimpy
Woody
Yank
Yogi Bill
Ziggy
Zip

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