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Oh, Barbed Wire Fence Wontcha Rename Me—Please

Oh, barbed wire fence wontcha rename me, please;
My moniker’s lemon sour and plumb wore out.
I can’t pluck a handle right outta the breeze,
So, barbed wire fence wontcha rename me, please.

I have been a rolling stone all through life; perhaps the following account shall serve to open a trail to my doorstep for old friends of whom I have lost track.

In addition to my present name, I have had others. In order of succession, they were: Lanny Louis McIntire; Lanny Louis Howard and Jack Louis Howard. I enlisted in the military as Lanny L. McIntire and was discharged as Jack L. Howard. Some years later the name no longer suited me. That triggered my search for one that would—a damned good one!

I don’t know much about my ancestry. The only full blood relative I’ve ever known was my mother, and I know scant little about her life. I was born Lanny Louis McIntire, although, I didn’t learn of it until I joined the Army 18 years later.

I was raised as Lanny Louis Howard until I turned 12 and moved out of town in the care of Jack Cullen Howard. While registering at the local school in Pacific Grove, California, I swapped out Lanny for Jack and instantly became Jack Louis Howard.

At 18, enlisting in the military, I had no other choice but to enlist under my birth name of Lanny Louis McIntire (brand new to me). Everyone called me Mac in the service. I had it legally changed back to Jack Louis Howard almost three years later, just before my Army discharge in Nov of ’66.

A dozen years afterward I was shopping for yet another name. I thought Jason Robards was a damn fine actor, and I liked his first name—Jason. I appropriated it and set it aside until I could scrape together a couple more to go behind it.

From my camps in the woods, I used to listen to late night talk shows on my mini transistor radio when I was prospecting for gold in the late ‘70s. In those days, Quentin L. Kopp, the San Francisco politician, sometimes hosted a talk show on KGO radio. I liked his first name so much that I adopted it as my middle name and put it aside for future use, too. When the day came to use it, I spelled it my way, swapping out the E and I positions.

I now had stashed away a first and second name that suited me; but I was having one hell of a time choosing a good, strong, standup surname. I’d gone through hundreds and considered dozens, but none felt or sounded just right.

Along about 1981 or 82, I found myself living, briefly, in Yuma, Arizona. I was working as a welder/fabricator for Gilpin’s Welding and Machine Works and still answering to the name—Jack Louis Howard. One early hot and muggy summer morning I was driving from town to a sprawling hay ranch where we were constructing a prototype solar, alfalfa hay drying and pellet production plant.

The ranch was 50 some odd, long miles out of town—as I remember. My truck’s radio was blaring out Rock ‘n’ Roll tunes and, out of the roadside hay fields, welcome whiffs of fresh cut alfalfa swirled thru my open windows as I rolled along the long, lonely highway–prospective surnames bouncing around in my head.

Farm and ranch houses and weathered barns and outbuildings dotted the landscape behind rusty barbed-wire fences shouldering the two-lane byway for mile after homogeneous mile. Homemade signs hung lazily from barbed wire at irregular intervals (addresses and ranch names, mostly); they flashed by two to the mile or so, helping to break the monotony and furnish names for consideration too.

One unusually fashioned sign I hadn’t noticed before stood out from all the rest; it literally called my name. The sign was fixed to the barbed wire fence at the entrance to a nondescript ranch. Made of beat up, empty beer cans strung together and hung lopsided onto the fence; it spelled out K-i-n-c-a-d-e in countrified, modern day beer can font. I didn’t need to think about it. My search was over.

A month of two later, grubstake in hand, I quit my job and left town to go back to prospecting for gold. And Jason Quinten Kincade was my name.

Jason Quinten Kincade
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