The Gift of a Name

Today is my birthday.

I am mostly of French, Irish and Welsh descent.

Carey means “from the castle” in Welsh.
Carey means “of the dark ones” in Irish.
Shelton is derived from a place name meaning “Shelf-town”.

I was born in Coos County Oregon and brought home to live on a shelf of land at the Port Orford Coast Guard Station, in Curry county.   I spent my first 10 months in a small house in “Little America” near the station.


The hospital I was born in had maybe four rooms.  It was called Leep Memorial Hospital.    The doctor who delivered me was Dr. Lucas.

My birth certificate says my mother was seventeen and my father was twenty-two.  There was no weight or length recorded.

My father’s occupation was listed as “Boatswain 3”.  There was no occupation line for “Mother of the Child”.

I was born at 4:10 AM.  If I had been the first baby born in Coos County on January 1st, my parents would have won a washer and dryer and a small amount of cash.

The weather that month was typical-wet and gray.

My first breath was damp marine air.

Port Orford-Carey-Box

I have loved my name all my life.  It is a good name.  It is a name that fits.  It is a name I would choose again and  maybe a name that chose me.  It is a name that has given me direction.  It is a name that helps me understand my past.   Sixty years later, it is a gift for which I am still grateful.

Port Orford-Carey


In poetry,