Having an unusual last name
like "Blattenberger" in the U.S. has caused me some abuse over the years as many
people have felt the need to either purposely mispronounce it or make make snide
comments about its length and number of syllables. Even school teachers joined in
the fray, especially on the first day of class when attendance was being taken.
My drill sergeant in USAF basic training (circa 1978), TSgt. Ramerez, felt the need
to needle me about it.
People in America with
surnames of German origin were often the victims of physical abuse,
alienation, and derision during both World War I and World War II. You
hear a lot about the government's
internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, but some Germans
were also rounded up merely because of their names.
The truth is poking fun at my last name never bothered me; I can take good-natured
jokes (and like to deliver them as well). However, in today's world of political
correctness it's funny how store clerks that still feel uninhibited in making remarks
about my name when looking at my credit card would never even consider doing the
same thing to someone with a long Indian or Muslim name.
That said, I had to laugh when I saw this advertisement for the Kluge Electronics
Company in this January 1946 edition of Radio News (here is another
Kluge ad in the next month's edition). According to Wikipedia, the surname
"Kluge" is German
and derives from the word "klug," meaning "wise" or "clever." That's a fitting name for a
maker of complex electronics equipment. Unfortunately, "kluge" (or "kludge") also
took on a derogatory meaning over the years that refers to something that is a Rube
Goldberg-like contraption that barely manages to perform its intended function -
and often fails at it. Per Encyclopedia.com:
kludge / kloōj/ (also
kluge) inf. • noun. an ill-assorted collection of parts assembled
to fulfill a particular purpose. • computer: a machine, system, or program
that has been badly put together. • verb. [tr.] use ill-assorted parts to make
(something): Hugh had to kludge something together.
Oh, and "Blattenberg" translates as "leaves mountain," so a Blattenberger
is one who lives on a leafy mountain. Oh well, that's better that poor
Arnold Horshack or Welcome Back Kotter fame who claims it is a "very old
and respected name" meaning "the cattle are dying."
Kluge Electronics Ad
The Curtain is Rising
on the most sensational development, hitherto undreamed of, in amateur radio
history! There isn't "ham" operator in the United States, or in the entire world
for that matter, who won't be interested in knowing what is behind this curtain.
Watch for the Kluge advertisements to follow.
The Kluge secret will soon be a reality.
1031 N. Alvarado Los Angeles 26, Calif.
Posted April 25, 2022
(updated from original post