By Major Chick Yuill –
On the third day of January, in the year nineteen hundred and forty seven, a male child was born to a coal miner and his wife in the town of Bellshill in the County of Lanark in Scotland. They named the child Charles after his father and his grandfather before him.
That was probably the first and only time the child was ever addressed by that name! For in that industrialized and working-class part of Scotland every Charles becomes a Chick. His last name, Yuill, was not considered by anyone to be worthy of comment since it is fairly common in Scotland the North of England. Subsequent experience has certainly proved that the name has not spread much farther.
When the aforementioned Charles, hereinafter to be known as Chick, became a Salvation Army officer, the problems began. The War Cry was willing to publish his articles, but refused to print the name Chick, declaring it to be “not dignified enough for the international organ of The Salvation Army.” A tense standoff developed as our hero refused to revert to Charles, knowing that such a course of action would alienate his friends and family, who would assume that he was “getting too big for his boots.”
In the end, common sense and colloquial English prevailed and the name Chick was accepted by the powers-that-be in matters editorial. The decision seemed only fair in a movement that has recognized its Ballingtons, Caugheys, Brindleys and various other unusual names. Chick trips off the tongue as well as any of these!
And then the fun began. The episodes are legion, but three will suffice. On one occasion, while on the staff of The William Booth Memorial Training College, Chick recognized the wife of the newly appointed training principal. Wishing to be friendly, he walked over and greeted her. “Good morning. May I introduce myself?” he said with a smile. “I’m Chick Yuill.” The lady was gracious and courteous but totally unable to disguise the confusion she obviously felt. It was some months before she confessed that she had always assumed that Chick Yuill was an Asian name. The sight of a mere Scotsman standing before her was not at all what she had anticipated.
Then there was the incident with the elderly lady who called the corps to say that she needed to speak with someone from the Army. She really loved the young man who called, and insisted on knowing his name. She had no problems with Chick, but stumbled repeatedly with the name Yuill. The resourceful Captain Yuill had an easy solution “Just think of Christmas–Yuletide and Yule logs,” he explained. “That’s helpful,” she replied. “Now I won’t ever forget your name.” The captain thought he had done well and made a mental note to use a similar explanation in the future. The idea was immediately discarded, however. As he walked down the path to his car the old lady called after him, “Goodbye, Captain Log. Thank you for coming.”
The one Chick enjoyed most occurred earlier this year at the commissioning of the new lieutenants here in the Western Territory. At the close of the final meeting he heard the sound of running feet and a voice calling, “Chick Yuill! Chick Yuill!” As he turned, he was greeted by a warm, friendly smile and the words, “Hi. I’m Check Yee and I’ve always wanted to meet you.” “I’ve always wanted to meet you,” replied Chick. “I think I’m you and you’re me,” added Lt. Colonel Check Yee, giving eloquent expression to the fun and frustration of having their names confused by readers of Salvation Army periodicals for too many years.
The world is full of odd names–some even stranger than Chick Yuill. But God knows them all. I’m content with my name, especially in the light of the promise of the Risen Lord:
Those who win the victory will be clothed like this in white, and I will not remove their names from the book of the living. In the presence of my Father and of his angels I will declare openly that they belong to me. (Revelation 3:5)
When the list is read in heaven, by the grace of God, Check and Chick will embrace again and all confusion will be ended.