August 25th, 2009 5:33 pm | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP

Name Change: Mary Jane No More


Having your name legally changed in Portland is as easy as filing a one-page form in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

Last Friday, Mary Jane Anderson did just that.

Anderson, a 54-year-old custodian at Portland Public Schools' Harriet Tubman Leadership Academy for Young Women, tells WW she changed her name to what she always thought it really was: Mary Jean Anderson.

Anderson, who lives in Northeast Portland, laughed when asked if the name change had to do with Mary Jane as slang for marijuana. No, she said — it's all for the DMV.

When she was born in rural Isola, Mississippi, in 1954, she was delivered at home by a midwife. Part of the midwife's job was to register the birth.

The midwife got the name wrong, Anderson says, making it Mary Jane on the birth register. But Anderson always went by Mary Jean, as her mother intended. All her other paperwork bears that name.

"My mother told me that she never named me Mary Jane," Anderson says. "I have never gone by that, because that is not what my mother named me."

The trouble arose with a new law that recently went into effect requiring a birth certificate to gain or renew an Oregon driver license. Anderson, who grew up in Pendleton after her birth in Mississippi, needs to renew her Oregon license next year.

She anticipated a snag at the DMV if the clerk notices that her Mississippi birth certificate has a different name than her Oregon license. So she's officially changing her name to avoid any hassles next year.

Summing up, Anderson says: "It's all kind of strange."
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