My foreign correspondent who lives down in the Hill Country told me the other day that with all the Harry Potter book publicity, I could have made a fortune if my middle name had been Potter. I could have named my last two books, “Harry Potter and The Last Train to Blanket,” and “Harry Potter and The Lonesome Bull.”

I agreed, but told him I would most likely have personally met J.K. Rowland or one of her lawyers before the sun went down. Besides that, my books were not over 600 pages long and hers are. At my age, I didn’t have that much time. Anyway, if I was ever a “Boy Wizard,” I outgrew it.

Actually, my middle name might have been Potter as my grandmother was a Potter before her marriage. Dad, however, was not fond of that name. One of Granny’s cousins used to ride his horse around the country looking for her relatives so he could get a few free meals and feed for his horse. He never wore out his welcome as it was already worn out when he got there.

He was a sort of sleazy-looking fellow who slicked his hair back with hog lard or axel grease, the only two things available back then anybody could do it with.

Dad had no use for anybody who didn’t work, play a fiddle or follow the hounds. That pretty well left Potter out of my name.

Back when I was born, folks sometimes didn’t name the new arrivals for two or three weeks. One day, Dad was in Blanket and ran across Harry Bettis, a prominent businessman. “I hear you have a new boy, Jesse. What did you name him?”

“Well,” Dad said, “I guess Harry Bettis would be fine with both of us.” Mr.Bettis immediately gave Dad a $5 bill, which in those days would fill the bed of a wagon with groceries. Being three weeks old at the time, I wasn’t worried about groceries.

Of course, J.K. Rowland with five best-selling books already wouldn’t know how important that was in 1924. It took me awhile too but by the time I was 6, I found out. The Great Depression was getting in full swing and our sunsets were starting to be in black and white.

I have been reading since I was old enough to read. I received every gold star the Blanket school library had for reading. Some stuff I learned, I’m sure is invaluable and other stuff just clutters up my mind. Still, there are times when I know stuff I don’t remember learning. I guess, like the hard drive on a computer, it stuck in there somewhere.

Kids, these days have not been known to read much with all the other distractions they have but the Harry Potter books have them reading again. This is an unbelievable accomplishment for J.K. Rowland, or anybody else.

I have never read a Harry Potter book and I doubt I ever will but I’m sure if the content of the books should warp young minds, they will outgrow it. They will learn that though there are lizards running around everywhere these days, wizards are in short supply.

Harry Marlin’s column is featured every Tuesday on the Brownwood Bulletin’s Viewpoint page. E-mail him at This column was first published in July 2005.