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What's in a name? Jim Smith Society holds 43rd annual convention in North Van
Each year Jim Smiths from across North America get together to celebrate their common name. This year, the 43rd annual convention will be in North Vancouver.
“We’re like a big family who travels every year to meet each other,” said North Vancouver resident Jim Smith, who has been part of the Jim Smith Society since the 1970s.
The 2,000-member club is open to anyone with the name, including people with the name James. The tight-knit group will be meeting at the Pinnacle Hotel from July 19 to 21. On the docket for the event is some sightseeing and playing JIMGO - their version of BINGO.
Most Jim Smiths in the society are American, so conventions are usually held in the United States. North Van’s Jim Smith has met up with namesakes in Washington, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Louisiana.
“We call each other nicknames so it doesn’t get too confusing with all the Jim Smiths around.”
His nickname is, suitably, “North Van,” while other Jims are named after their hometowns, their appearance or their personality. Jim from North Carolina is affectionately called “Charlotte” after the largest city in the state.
The attendees will be wearing blue T-shirts with their society’s logo, “We don’t shun fun” to all their outings. They also have hats, belt buckles, pins and a monthly newsletter.
The Jims usually bring their wives, affectionately called Jims’ Gems.
The club only has one female member, JimAnne, but that number should grow because Jamies have recently been allowed to join.
“JimAnne’s father’s name was James, and he made her promise to keep the name James - or Jim - continuing in the family’s next generations.”
It’s not uncommon to see a father pass down the name Jim to his son, so both can be members of the group.
Even people with a variation of Jim for their middle name can opt-in, like the son of the North Vancouver Smiths whose middle name is James.
“Our newest member is from Langley. He is 95 years old and was very excited to join,” Smith said. The recent recruit’s nickname might end up being Mad Dog because of his email address.
The Smiths are even trying to draft their neighbour, whose middle name is James, but so far he has declined the offer.
Smith is a common surname, but two Jims discovered they were distance relatives at recent annual convention.
Having a common last name, however, can be a hassle, added Smith. He listed his phone number under his middle name so people would be able to find it easier and he and others with the same name have been held up at the airport when officials were looking for another Jim Smith.
“But having a common name is great. Who else can say they belong to a club made just for people with the same name?”
For more information about the group go to www.jimsmithsociety.com.