I have often wondered about the first name given to a person, whether it describes that person. I found a list of first names in the Collins American Gem Dictionary and matched the meaning given to some people I have known to see if the name given to the person actually described the person.

Aaron means “enlightened,” but the Aaron I knew did not fit this definition. His mind was directed at bullying smaller kids and causing chaos in the classroom. He and his family left Oak Park at the end of eighth grade after his bullying tactics failed, and he became a laughing stock.

Alan, meanwhile, was not a harmonious person because he caused unrest among people with his negative attitude. He ended up friendless, and he and his family moved from Oak Park after seventh grade. I always felt sorry for him.

In a past column I mentioned how bright Albert was. During the years I knew him, I was always amazed by his vast store of knowledge and his willingness to share that knowledge.

Charles was one of my best friends throughout grade school. He was a noble-spirited person who always saw the good in other people and stood for truth and moral behavior.

My cousin Linda’s aunt, Clair, was an illustrious person. She left her home in Nebraska to go to New York City to earn a master’s degree at Columbia and return to Nebraska where she enjoyed an outstanding career as an English teacher.

Edward was a happy friend to the people in our neighborhood. He gladly helped anyone in need and always left people feeling good because of his unfailing good humor.

Eric, however, was not a brave person. In fact he depended on stealth and lying to gain his ends. His end came when he lied about stealing money from his teacher’s desk and he was expelled from school.

My Great Aunt Jane was truly a gift of God. She and her husband lived on Oak Street in Chicago, and when I was a boy, she treated me like the child she never had. She took me to many wonderful places and made certain I was always loved.

Peter was an ornery kid who loved to intimidate other children. He was not a rock of strength but a guy who consistently upset every kid who came in contact with him. He wilted like a dying flower, however, when one of the kids he tried to scare stood up to him. It wasn’t long before other kids stood up to him. He and his family moved out of Oak Park at the end of eighth grade.

I met the noble Arthur in 1958 through a mutual friend. Arthur’s goal was to become a public defender so he could help the downtrodden. He did become a public defender in Des Moines, thereby realizing his dream

Theodore was a born leader, whether it was in sports or in the classroom. He was a biology major in college and became a surgeon in Boston.

I do not believe that most parents use a list in order to choose their child’s first name, but if they do, will it make any difference to the life the child will lead?

I don’t think so. 

What do you think?

John Stanger is a lifelong resident of Oak Park, a 1957 graduate of OPRF High School, married with three grown children and five grandchildren, and a retired English professor  (Elmhurst College). Living two miles from where he grew up, he hasn’t gotten far in 78 years.

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