What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?


I often wondered what impact if any a name had on one’s life.  As a youngster I was often called Davy and I hated it, don’t know why I just hated it.  I ended up getting in fights in grade school when someone had the temerity to call me Davy.


I’ve known many who insist on going by their middle name or simple initials.  Of course I was always fascinated by men who only felt comfortable when they had their initials on their shirts, coats or suits.  I’ve always had the feeling that these people obsessed with their names were really obsessed with what impact names would have on their business and personal lives.  There are also abbreviations of names like my dad ‘s name Charlie, so much less elegant [to me] than Charles Wesley Martin.  Still the name fit, Charlie was a friendly, well liked “regular guy” and at his funeral many people stood up without prompting to say how Charlie had helped them out with family problems, given them a job at the bus company my father owned when they couldn’t get an opportunity at another company, well you get the idea, he was “one of the guys.”


I am just not sure the motivation’s for many people using identifications other than their actual names is for business or egotistical reasons, still I wonder.


My ex-brother-in-law, a very bright man who eventually had degrees from Princeton, Northwestern and the University of Chicago wrote a piece I won’t soon forget.  It was thirty-eight years ago and my second son was born.  Jeff, my then brother-in-law wrote the following and I hope you’ll agree a unique and creative piece.

Daniel Harrison Martin’s his name.

Many the roads that could lead him to fame.

It all hinges on how the name is said,

What will be done and what life will be led.


D. Harrison Martin, now let’s be frank,

Would make him the head of a large New York bank.

For wheeling and dealing that name is cut out;

He’ll move up in the business without any doubt.


But if as a writer he wants to gain fame,

Then D.H. Martin’s his best choice of name.

With novels and plays and things of that kind,

Success could be his, if the critics don’t mind.


Daniel Martin’s a man who is folksy and plain.

He could win each and every election campaign.

Just like in Illinois, he could be The Man,

And have everyone call out “There’s Governor Dan.”


Harry (The Horse) Martin’s a bookmaker’s handle.

To him Jimmy the Greek surely can’t hold a candle.

To the top of the mob he’ll be sure to have risen,

That is, as long as he stays out of prison.


The name Danny Martin has a real classy ring,

And he’ll make it on Broadway, if he can sing.

But if he can’t sing, he won’t be a louse,

He could still play piano in a cathouse.


His career has various paths, you can see,

And no one can tell just what he will be.

A name can make the great determination,

His fate depends on its interpretation.


Now my son Dan is working in a responsible position at a bank, so maybe Jeff called it correctly however the bank is in Chicago and to the best of my knowledge he doesn’t go by the name D. Harrison Martin.  I should also point out that at the age of thirty-eight Dan hasn’t many of the options associated with the names he might use. I do think he is too much of a practical man to run for a political office, he can’t rate horses and I know he can’t play the piano so no cathouse for him.  Now he may become a writer, I guess we’ll just have to see.


So what do you think?  Do names make the man or woman or do the individuals make the names?












1 Comment

  1. Pingback: What’s in a Name? « firefoxeblog

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