Commentary

And Puny Pete said: ‘God bless us every one’

There used to be a catcher for the Atlanta Braves named Matt Sinatro.

This was back in the days of the first superstation, WTBS, and just about every baseball fan in the country watched Braves games and their announcer, the late, great Skip Caray.

Sinatro came to bat once and Caray commented, in his wonderful nasal tone: “Here comes Matt Sinatro (pause). Just one letter away from being a superstar.”

It might have taken more than changing the “o” to an “a” to make a Sinatra out of a Sinatro, but you get the point.

Names matter, especially the famous ones.

Oh, like, Gandalf, the wizard in “Lord of Rings.” Would we have responded to him as much if he’d been named “Bladorthin,” which sounds like something a urologist would treat?

Well, he was named that originally. In fact that’s what author J.R.R. Tolkein called him in a passing reference in “The Hobbit,” then switched his name with a minor dwarf character for the three-volume series which has been voted the greatest fictional work of the 20th Century.

Frankly, my dears, I’m not at all sure we would have cottoned to a southern belle named Pansy O’Hara.

That’s what “Gone With the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell— who, by the way, actually went by the name of “Peggy”— thought of calling her heroine, who went on to achieve iconic status as Scarlett O’Hara.

A web blog called “Mental Floss” by Stacy Conradt has come up with several famous mighthave beens. I’m usually hesitant about quoting such sources but I’ve researched several stories she lists, and have personal knowledge of a couple, and have found them accurate.

Did you know Harry Potter’s brainy friend Hermoine’s last name was almost “Puckle?”

Author J. K. Rowling changed it to Granger because Puckle sounded too whimsical, not serious enough for a quite serious character.

That wasn’t the reason another mega-selling British author changed a name about 450 years previously.

Sir John Falstaff, a chubby, cowardly, comical knight appears in three of William Shakespeare’s plays. But in the first he’s called Sir John Oldcastle.

Why the change? There was a real Sir John Oldcastle, his heirs didn’t like the way their ancestor was portrayed and in the 16th Century complaints weren’t settled with blogs, but with duels.

Shakespeare got the point. Or rather, decided not to.

Still on the other side of the pond, you remember that famous detective and his sidekick, Sherrinford Holmes and Dr. Ormond Sacker?

That’swhatArthurConan Doyle originally considered calling Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson.

Ironically, a later author invented a brother for Sherlock, named him Sherrinford and many fans think that’s in the Doyle stories. It isn’t, Holmes’s “real” brother is named “Mycroft.”

Truman Capote’s character Holly Golightly in the stor ylater classic-movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” was originally named Connie Gustafson.

And Bram Stoker was going to call Count Dracula “Count Wampyr.”

I don’t know if that means the Renfield character, who first discovers the evil count, was originally called Elmer Fudd.

Before teen detective Nancy Drew got her name, the names Stella Strong, Diana Drew, Diana Dare, Nan Nelson and Helen Hale were considered.

Souuds like a law firm. Or a basketball team.

A nd Charles Dickens tried several names before settling on Tiny Tim in what’s probably the most famous short story ever written,” A Christmas Carol.”

Those included Small Sam, Little Larry and Puny Pete.

“God bless us every one,” said Puny Pete.

Nope, just doesn’t sound the same.

Sometimes authors don’t change things on their own and in some cases you’ve got to think providence was looking out for them.

A young cartoonist named Harold Gray was in the first stages of drawing a promising strip in the early 1920s when he submitted it to the Chicago Tribune.

The Tribune’s publisher was the legendary Capt. Joseph Medill Patterson.

He loved Gray’s strip but Patterson had a knack for knowing what the public would like.

“It’s good Harry,” Patterson said. “But why don’t you change the kid from a boy to a girl?”

And that’s how Little Orphan O t to bec ame L it t le Or pha n Annie.

mike@rockdalereporter.com


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2012-07-19 digital edition



The burn ban for Milam County has been lifted. Burning is always prohibited in the county's municipalities.


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