On the Odd Journey of Names:
In 1966, Julian Lennon, John’s son, brought home a watercolor drawing of stars surrounding a girl he sat next to at school. John asked what it was, and Julian replied, “it’s Lucy in the sky!” Thus the inspiration for “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” which was constantly misread as a code name for LSD. The song went on to define psychedelic pop for the period and became one of the most famous songs in the canon.
In 1974, Donald Johanson discovered the skeleton of an early hominid woman while they were digging in Ethiopia. It was one of the biggest discoveries in anthropological history, and while they were celebrating, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” came on the radio, and thus they named their skeleton “Lucy.”
I first got interested in the Lucy bones when I went to Africa in 1981, where I got to meet Richard Leakey, who signed his book “Origins” for me, and basically went out of his way to make a shy 13-year-old feel worthwhile.
Meanwhile, Lucy came to mean the entire race of Australopithecus afarensis, who lived 3.2 million years ago. Last week, scientists revealed the bones of a child found near the original Lucy, calling it the oldest child fossil in existence. Slate ran the headline Little Lucy’s Debut.
as an adult, only 3.5 feet tall
This means the transition animal between ape and human, the very creatures that eventually make you and me, are named after a girl who sat next to Julien Lennon in pre-school: Lucy O’Donnell, born in 1963 and now 43 years old, living in Surbiton in Surry, England, running a nanny agency.
My little Lucy gets her name from Nonnie (Lucille Tessman), and from my great-great-grandmother Lucy Rigby. I also loved the Peanuts cartoons as a kid, which gave us Lucy van Pelt. But also deep in there is the memory of a man in Africa whose peers dug up Lucy from millions of years ago, and was one of the first adults who treated me like I had something to say. I’ll always be so grateful for the way he talked to me that day, and I won’t forget to tell my daughter all about it.
detail of the Yahoo! Most Emailed Stories page where I got the picture – bizarre cultural statement, eh?