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Names are important to us all. For all intents and purposes, our name is the only thing we can take with us wherever we go, whatever we do, and we strive to keep our identity.
I know as well as anyone how it feels when someone messes it up.
As a child outside of home, I was called “Sane,” “Seen” or “See-an” and “Shane” or “See-on.”
I would point out here that I am the oldest “Sean” I have ever met in the United States. The one person who made my name at least a household word was Sean Connery, who first used that name in the movie “Darby O’Gill and the Little People,” a classic flick about leprechauns.
Sean Connery was born Tommy Connery, and I was already about 5 or 6 when that movie came out, placing me on earth before Mr. Connery adopted the name.
I have been fortunate enough to visit Ireland on many occasions and have now met many Seans, but I would challenge you to come up with friends named Sean, spelled that way, who are older than 60 and a native of the U.S.
But to make matters worse, I am the youngest of seven kids.
I was about 6 when I finally realized my name wasn’t “Brian, Maureen, Sheila, Dennis, Jimmy, Kevin, Sean.”
Whenever Dad wanted one of us, he would start with Brian and let fire with the litany of names until he got to the one he wanted.
Names were always a problem with my family, and sometimes it reached out and touched others not related.
There came a point when Dad called each one of us “Charlie” just to simplify the process. The funny thing was that we knew who he meant when he called out the name.
One incident comes to mind when the outside world was complicated by the process.
Sometime, when I was about 6 or 7, all of us males when to the Perkins-Shearer men’s clothing store in Colorado Springs to get matching suits for a big family portrait.
Mr. O’Brien, who we all knew – but not well – for years, was an older, highly distinguished gentlemen who took care of us. The only thing he was missing as an old-time haberdasher was that he didn’t have an English accent.
Dad would look at Brian, the oldest, and say, “Charlie, why don’t you go look over there.”
He would look at Dennis and say, “Hey Charlie, go over to that rack and look around.”
He’d grab me and say, “Come on Charlie, come with me.”
This went on for hours as we each got a black and gold sports jacket, black pants and socks, black shoes and a light blue shirt. “Charlie” was involved in every phase of this adventure, and by the time we were finished with the chore, poor old Mr. O’Brien was thoroughly confused.
In trying on various articles of clothing, Mr. O’Brien would call to any one of us as “Charlie,” and each one of us reacted without even an eye glance. If the address wasn’t coming from Dad, it might as well have been falling on deaf ears.
Finally, when we were done with this expedition, Mr. O’Brien yelled across the men’s store toward Dad, “Well, Charlie, I think we are done.” Dad didn’t even flinch. The attempt for contact had failed miserably.
But all of us kids heard it, so than began the custom for all of us kids to call Dad “Charlie,” a practice that continued until his death at the age of 82.
A couple years after graduation from high school in Boulder, the five boys joined funds and bought a ranch in the mountains near Terryall Reservoir in Park County. When he retired, we hired Dad as foreman of the ranch, and the first thing he did was acquire a collie he named Charlie.
We had a very large family reunion at the ranch in about 1978, when all the siblings, their husbands and wives and children were in attendance.
There were at least nine Charlies there, including the seven kids, Dad and his collie.
It made for some interesting communications issues – because all of Dad’s grandchildren thought it was funny to try and call each one of us “Charlie.” It was really a mess at times, but we coped.
About a decade later, a rift developed in my relationship with my Dad, and that rift lasted pretty close to 15 years. Finally, Dad and I buried the hatchet and made up, and we finished up his life on good terms.
But one of the things that slowed down the progress was that when I was living in Eureka Springs, Ark., my Dad found out I had a pet skunk named Charlie.
I can safely say that Charlie was the best pet I ever had. When I got him, he was 10 days old and had already been de-scented. I was having to feed him milk and he was about the size of a large mouse. He was a great pet for the years I had him, growing from about four ounces to a fat 24 pounds.
We would go for walks downtown in the tourist town of Eureka Springs, and folks would stop us about every 20 feet to take our picture. He was a great pet.
It took Dad quite a few years to realize the humor in the name, and he would bring it up often until his death. But secretly, I think he was kind of proud that I had named my buddy after him.
So, yes, I appreciate one’s name and I know it is important to each and every one.
One of the things I heard early in the journalism field was the idiom that the print medium can “Say anything you want about me, but spell my name right.”
That is my intent.
I would love to say it won’t ever happen again, but reality is, it probably will.
But know that it bothers me as much as it bothers the person who was mis-named. Let me know and I will correct it in the newspaper soon as possible.
I must admit, I am happy the Olympic games in Sochi have concluded.
Certainly I enjoyed watching the games and the world’s top athletes do their best, but my problem with them was having to stay up until midnight to watch the last and lesser events of the day.
I stated last week that I have have a personal tie to the Olympic movement with my Dad president of the Denver Olympic Committee, which won the 1976 Olympics for Colorado before voters turned back the issue.
But when you have to get up at 6 a.m. and the late-night broadcast for some night was not over until 12:30 a.m., it was tough to keep up that pace with a lack of sleep.
Now I can get a bit more normal sleep at night and, almost as important, get back to my favorite shows, some of which I have missed; some of which I found out I didn’t miss.
Speaking of the Olympics, I asked readers to let me know now, 38 years later, if Colorado, in retrospect, should have gone ahead and hosted the 1976 games.
Those who contacted me voted 7-2 that yes, Colorado should have hosted the games.
The reasons were just the same now as they were those many years ago.
While more said they favored having held the games than were against it, supporters pointed to the money that would have flowed into Colorado and the improved highways and infrastructure through the mountains.
Those who said they agreed with the vote to not hold the Olympics each mentioned the environment as their concerns. They objected to longer and wider roads through the mountains and the infrastructure that would have been needed in many of Colorado’s small towns.
The comments ranged from “The smartest thing Colorado could have ever done” to “The stupidest thing Colorado could have ever done.”
Did this brief survey solve anything or prove anything? Nope! Not at all.
Congratulations to all the wrestlers who competed last weekend at the state high school wrestling tournament in Denver.
Your town and your school officials and fellow students are all proud of the hard work and effort you put in, regardless of where you finished at the tournament.