Harry McAfee was never an avid reader. The North Valley artist didn't get bitten by the book bug as a kid, and he didn't pick up the habit later in life, either. Several years ago, though, his daughter talked him into seeing the first Harry Potter movie. He liked it quite a bit, and when he got laid up sick for a couple weeks, he decided to give the book a try.
“I just got captivated by it,” he says. “I couldn't wait to read the second one.”
J.K. Rowling’s literary creations have gotten a ton of positive press because of their ability to transform book-phobic kids into bibliophiles. It's a happy fact that they can have the same effect on a man in his 40s. McAfee didn't just plow through all the Harry Potter books. He started reading other books too. He even started going to signings at the North Valley's wonderful independent bookseller Bookworks (4022 Rio Grande NW, 344-8139).
McAfee's interest in the Harry Potter books didn't stop with the written word. “I came across a gentleman making wicked witch brooms,” he says. “That's what gave me the idea.”
McAfee got his hands on a copy of Rowling's Quidditch Through the Ages, from which he learned quite a bit about the Nimbus 2000, the magic flying broom used by Harry Potter in Quidditch matches. With this book as his guide, he's made three adult-sized, seven-foot-long brooms so far, each hand-cut from African mahogany, with lettering cut from a sheet of brass then glued in place on the handle. The bristles are from African dry reeds. The footrests are solid brass rods. He made each by hand under the shade of a 150-year-old cottonwood tree in the North Valley.
“I gave the first one to a balloon pilot friend of mine from Canada,” he says, “a Harry Potter fanatic who fell in love with it. The second one I sold.”
And the third one? McAfee's third Nimbus 2000 is over at Bookworks. He gave it to owner Nancy Rutland with the stipulation that any proceeds generated from it go to charity. Next Friday, July 20, during the release party for the last Harry Potter book—Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—the broom will be raffled off, with half the money going to the New Mexico Literacy Coalition and half going to the public library system.
“It's going to be fun,” McAfee says. “I'm going to be there. I bought my book and place in line a long time ago. They usually have a big event there, and I wanted to do something for charity. Nancy is a neat lady, and she's always giving back to the community. I just wanted to do the same.”