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What is in a name?
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I remember going to places such as Six Flags and Stone Mountain when I was a kid. I was always fascinated with the key chains, pencils and bike tags with names on them.

Names like John, Bob, Mike or Ed were plentiful. I was the eternal optimist and was sure one day I would find “Harris” embossed on something some place. I never did.

I was looking at the Social Security Administration’s list of popular names from 1914 to 2013. They were James, John, Robert, Michael and William for males and Mary, Patricia, Jennifer, Elizabeth and Linda for females.

Bear in mind that’s a 100-year total.

In 2013, popular boy names were Noah, Liam, Jacob, Mason and William. The girls were named Sophia, Emma, Olivia, Isabella and Ava.

I never held a grudge against the people who made nameplate goods. It wasn’t in the cards for me to find a bike tag with my name.

But I would think the future of items embossed with names could be a tough business going forward.

For the most part, we have stopped naming children family names. Because of this, spelling is no longer a big deal. Two of the top names are Sophia and Sofia. Take your pick.

Other multiple spellings include Ashley, Ashlee and Ashli. Other names with multiple variations are Isabella, Isabel and Bella.

In boy names you have variations such as John and Jon or Tom and Thom.

And what was hot a mere 14 years ago doesn’t show up in the top 10 today.

How do the pencil, mug and key chain makers keep up?

If you wonder what happened to old-school names, well, I found some of them. Many people have relegated once-favored people names to their dogs. Some of the most popular names for dogs include Jack, Buddy, Max, Molly and Daisy.

Daisy was the name of Donald Duck’s girlfriend and my grandmother. Not that it has any bearing on anything.

I remember when dogs were named Goofy and Pluto. By the way, why could Goofy talk and Pluto couldn’t? They were both dogs.

In the early days of Disney, Goofy was known as Dippy Dawg. He was also known as George G. Geef and Goofy Goof and Goofus D. Dawg. He was best known as just Goofy.

I had a radio guy suggest I adopt a cooler name for my on-air moniker. I never did.

I gave some thought to coining a cool nickname. A guy running right now for mayor of Chicago is named Jesus Garcia. His nickname is Chuy. It works for him. I glad I never had to try it.

The year of my birth, 106 other boys were named Harris. That was the year my name hit an all-time high on the popular name list at 750. Harris has not made the top 1,000 anytime this century.

We seem to name children today based on celebrities or something we pull out of the air. If you are born on a bright shiny day, they may call you Sunshine. If it is the opposite, you may be called Stormy.

Perhaps the last remaining place of personalization will be the place I don’t recommend to anyone — a tattoo. For goodness sake, make sure they spell it right.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on

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