Fore, Four and Fourth

IV Words? What does that even mean? And how does that translate to blog posts on climate change, the environment, government, politics, progressive causes and everything else you write about?

I get questions like these a lot, which either means I’ve done a horrible job of branding my blog, because no one knows the answers, or I’m doing a great job because people are curious enough to ask.

Either way, it’s time to lay it all out.

There’s a little more to “IV Words” than immediately meets the eye; it’ll take me a few overlapping explanations and a couple of anecdotes to clarify.

Explanation the First (I) – My Name

[four · words (fôr · wərdz)]

I am the fourth Martin Cornelius Fredricks.

Martin C. Fredricks IV =

Personal logo/icon of Martin C. Fredricks IV (MCFIV)

Words written by Martin C. Fredricks IV =

I happen to be the fourth Martin Cornelius Fredricks in a successive generational line in my family, following my great grandfather (Sr.) , grandfather (Jr.) and father (III). My son is the fifth (V).

Go back several generations, take spelling variations into account, and you’ll find many more Martin or Marten Corneliuses.

The name flows down from Ostfriesland, a.k.a., East Frisia or Eastern Friesland, in Germany. The Ostfriesen Genealogical Society of America explains the location this way – “The Ostfriesland area of Germany is located in the northwest corner of Germany, bordered by the Netherlands and the North Sea.  This area may also be called East Friesland and is now part of the Niedersachsen, or Lower Saxony, state of Germany.”

My great, great, great, great, great (or something like that) grandparents, Harm Meinders and Ebeline (Heikes) Freerks, hailed from Ostfriesland. The first known instance of Martin Cornelius in the family tree is in the person of Ebeline’s grandfather. Ebeline and Harm named their first son Marten, presumably after her grandfather, and there were several Martens who came after.

Map of Ostfriesland
Ostfriesland, northwestern Germany

At some time down the line in the USA, someone changed Freerks to Fredricks in the United States. As the story goes, my great grandfather, Martin Cornelius Fredricks, was the first with the updated surname. Apparently too many people were screwing up the old one, calling us “freaks” instead of Freerks. One might argue for the validity of that “freaks” now, given my own personality, but at the time it wouldn’t stand.

In adulthood I’ve taken great pride in being the fourth. There’s a hint of royalty, like King George IV of England, in the suffix. That’s been kind of fun, even though there is not a minuscule drop or royal blood in my veins and “pomp and circumstance” is nowhere near my style.

It hasn’t always been this way.

Anecdote the First (Sr.) – “Here Come the Judge“*

Having the same name as my dad and grandpa wasn’t easy, especially since we all lived in Jamestown, N.D., when I was growing up.

In junior high, when my friends’ voices were dropping into manhood, it was a challenge to tell if a caller was for Marty-dad or Marty-me. For years after I moved out of the house I received Dad’s mail and he mine. Stuff like that.

Sometimes it extended to my granddad, who was a district court judge in Stutsman County for many years. Exacerbating matters was exactly where we lived – my grandparents at 616 2nd Avenue and us at 616 3rd Street.

One day my mother answered the telephone. “Hello.”

“Hello, is Marty there?”

“He’s doing his newspaper route.”

Pause, then a little chuckle on the other end of the line…

“I think I must mean his father.”

“He’s delivering papers, too.” (Dad used to help with my route.)

Much longer pause…

“Um… is this the Judge M.C. Fredricks residence?”

We laughed about that one for years, long after my early 20s when I began going by “Martin” rather than “Marty.” The name suited then; can’t stand it for myself now.

Even so, I kept getting Dad’s mail.

Images of four generations of Martin Cornelius Fredrickses

* Just for fun, watch Sammy Davis Jr. in an original Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In “Here Come the Judge” sketch. Since it came out at the same time Grandpa was on the bench, I bet he tired of hearing Sammy Davis Jr. impressions from every Tom, Dick and Martin on the street (and in his own family).

Explanation the Second (II) – The Introduction

[fore · words (fôr · wərdz)]

Imagining each IV Words post as a foreword is very appealing to this voracious reader. It’s on point, too; every entry into IV Words, and most other blogs, is about what comes next.

Explanation the Third (III) – Moving Forward

[for · ward (fôr · wərd)]

I’m a progressive, and progressives are interested in building a better future through social reform or new, liberal ideas. Metaphorically speaking, then, IV Words is about moving forward.

As I wrote in “Foreword to IV Words,” the blog is “…an introduction to what’s next in politics, progressive causes, government, climate change and the environment, always with a good dose of social commentary sprinkled in. We’ll jump into life, family, experiences, lessons learned and the way it is once in a while, too.”

Whether it’s rehashing past events, commenting on the present or looking to the future, each post sets the stage.

Explanation the Fourth (IV) – To the Fore

Bringing something to the fore is to make it more prominent, emphasize it or make it more noticeable. That’s one of the goals of IV Words, especially when it comes to social and environmental issues. It’s also about bringing to light cock-ups and successes so regular blokes like you and me can talk them over, pick them apart and either agree or disagree.

What can I say? I’m a rabble-rouser from way back.

Anecdote the Second (Jr.) – As to the Fifth

Much of what I publish on IV Words relates to a healthy future for our planet and coming generations. It’s about my kids and grandkids. Yours, too.

Which brings me to my son.

I always swore I’d never burden a kid with a handle like Martin Cornelius Fredricks V. It’s just too damn confusing.

But when Dad passed away unexpectedly in 2003, my wife, Cassi, was pregnant with my son. Naming him after his grandfather, and the grandfathers before him, felt like the right thing – perhaps the only thing – to do.

Now I’m pleased we did. Martin Cornelius Fredricks V and I are the stewards of a great tradition, one I he continue if he choses.

Absolutely apropos of nothing, I know, but what the hell.

Moving on….

Explanation the Fifth (V) – Words at Play

I love words and phrases with multiple meanings and applications that go deeper. IV Words does that for me; if it didn’t, you wouldn’t be reading this.

The End” of Another IV Words Post

Every foreword inevitably connects with “The End.” For this IV Words post, here we are.

Some closing thoughts:

I. If you’ve been interested enough to get this far, thank you for your fortitude.

II. My hope is you now appreciate how all of this has been way, way overthought.

III. Clearly, you don’t need to know any of this to appreciate IV Words. (And follow. Please. Seriously. The sign-up widget is right there, in the right-hand column. Easy-peasy.)

IV. I’m out of points, but I desperately wanted to make it to “IV.

Now, go forth (see what I did there?), forget all this nonsense and get on with what’s actually important in your life.

Thanks for reading.

Dec. 20, 2018

Personal logo of Martin C. Fredricks IV

Featured photo at Ouzel Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park in the summer of 1988. I was 19 years old working at a ranch called Aspen Lodge not far from the Ouzel Falls trailhead.

Ouzel Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Ouzel Falls in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. Source:
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