With a name like Jim Smith, sometimes it's better to be known by your hometown.
At least that's the case for 1,902 men and women across the country part of a club with only one requirement.
"The only necessary thing is to be a Jim Smith," said Nancy Smith, of Warren. "They'll extend that to other languages."
Nancy's brother, Jim, was a member of the Jim Smith Society for years before he passed away in 1999. She's kept up his membership since. A few dozen current members are meeting up for their annual fun fest in Pittsburgh July 17-20.
East Berlin, Pa., Jim Smith is the host. While he used to live closer to Pittsburgh, he now lives about 30 minutes from where the society's founder, Camp Hill Jim Smith, lived. The society, said East Berlin Jim, also membership chairman, gives members an opportunity to make friends from all over and for an entertaining vacation once a year. It's been meeting annually since 1969.
The Official Jim Smith Society Song
Written by Jim Ann Oliver
(Sung to the tune of "Delta Dawn")
I have Jim Smith power; I'm the man of the hour
My countenance is always far from grim.
Of the Smiths there are a ton, but to have the mostest fun,
You've just gotta, yes, I've gotta be a Jim!
Jim Smith, friend, our band will never end
And we'll stick together through rain and sun
'Cause whatever comes or goes, Jim Smiths are on their toes
And we'll come up laughing 'cause WE DON'T SHUN FUN!
This year, members will kick off the weekend with a cookout Thursday. Friday, they'll go golfing. They'll sight-see and have dinners, he said. They used to have softball games, he said, and you never got confused about who was on which base. They wear name tags and are known by the city in which they live.
"There's also a game similar to bingo, called jimgo," said East Berlin Jim, a 30-year member. "Before everything starts, we have a meet Jim Smith time where we stand up and say I'm Jim Smith from."
Group president Eden Jim Smith, of North Carolina, claims his name is the most common in the country. That's backed up by U.S. Census figures, which said as of 2000, the most common last name in the country was Smith. According to its most recent records - from the 1990s - James was the most common first name.
Historically, one signed the Declaration of Independence, said Eden Jim. Another was a Civil War confederate colonel. Group members include anyone from doctors and lawyers to veterans and blue collar workers named Jim Smith.
East Berlin Jim said they'll accept people named Jaques - French for Jim - and there's even room for female Jimmys. While there are only a handful of those, the male Jims refer to their wives as Gems.
They're from all over the country, but East Berlin Jim said there are several from Ohio. While Nancy Smith's brother is listed as its only Trumbull County member, others are listed in areas like Akron, Elyria, Grove City and East Liverpool. Nancy's brother was the fourth son in the family, she said, so his father's name had already been repeated.
"It's just a good, common name, and they enjoy it," she said. "With a name like Smith, you just have to enjoy it."
The group has gotten smaller through the years, said Eden Jim, and is mostly made up of members older than 50. He's been a member since 1983, following in the footsteps of his dad, Jim Smith.
"Mainly, we just get together once a year to have some fun," he said, adding they usually pick up a few new members. "I've been to San Francisco, Seattle, Colorado Springs, Dallas, New York, Washington."
He went to a small school, so he was the only Jim Smith growing up, he said. East Berlin Jim said the name doesn't bother him, either.
"I had an Uncle Jim and a cousin Jim," he said. "It doesn't bother me too much."
Come Thursday, said Eden Jim, they'll be out in full force having a good time and getting attention.
"We're always on the local news," said Eden Jim. "You just show up and have fun."