Friday, June 1, 2012

Eric Shackle's Column

Two towns: HAMM and TWO EGG

TWO EGG is the quirky name of a small town in Florida. Its official website says there are more stories on how it changed its name from Allison than it has people. And HAMM is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
Since we first wrote about amusing or peculiar names of towns a decade ago, readers around the world have told us of dozens of their favorite weird place names, .
Here are some of their e-mails:
Have you heard of the town of HOTAZEL in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa? It gets quite warm there! - RG, (Johannesburg, South Africa).
In addition to HELL, Michigan has a town named PARADISE. (It's in the Upper Peninsula, on the shore of Lake Superior.) When we bought a cottage there, one of the previous owner's wall decorations was a road map of Michigan with the route from Hell to Paradise highlighted and "325 Miles from Hell to Paradise" scrawled across the top! Oh, and while Pennsylvania has INTERCOURSE, Michigan has a CLIMAX. - Barbara Bushey.
There is a CLIMAX, Michigan that may be worth a visit... or maybe CHRISTMAS, Michigan as well. - Nathan Miller.
Here in Arizona we have WHY without a question mark, and a place between Wickenburg and Wikieup called NOTHING. It really is a nothing. New Mexico boasts TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES, named after a long since gone radio program. - Stanley Dickes.
Here's some more for you: DIMBOX, GODLY, CUT AND SHOOT (all in Texas), and one of my favorites: TOAD SUCK, Arkansas. - Don Cooper.
Just read about the various town names, and thought I'd send a greeting from my town of ROUGH AND READY, California. - Rosie Mariani.
(Reminds us of Ben Ryan's 1926 song, Heart of My Heart:

When we were kids
On the corner of the street,
We were Rough and Ready guys,
But oh, how we could harmonize!) My father knew the man who named ZZYZYX (I am sure it is pronounced "zai-zix"). As I recall, he was a bit of a promoter, who wanted to create a town there, and sell land. He selected the name in order to create interest. I guess he succeeded! - Radha, St John, U S Virgin Islands.
Hello from the UK. It is quite common to live in HOPE around here - there's one in Montgomeryshire, Wales and the other just over the border in Shropshire, England. There is also a village in Shropshire called GREAT NESS. I always thought I was destined for greatness but never could afford a house there. - Chris Bartram.
You missed mentioning PARADISE, Pennsylvania, which is not far from INTERCOURSE,Pennsylvania: and both are also close to BIRD-IN-HAND, Pennsylvania. - Lisa A. Hallett.
You don't have to go to California to find PARADISE. Near LANCASTER, Pennsylvania you can find both PARADISE and INTERCOURSE. On a highway there is a sign there pointing in two different directions, one to PARADISE and the other to INTERCOURSE. Most people opt to take the road to INTERCOURSE, out of curiosity. I am not sure if they go straight to PARADISE after INTERCOURSE or return disappointed and then opt to go to PARADISE. The three cities, BiRD IN HAND, INTERCOURSE, and PARADISE are all within 5 miles of each other. - Sethuraman Subramanian.
Another place to visit, other than HELL, is DILDO, Newfoundland - Dave Ritchie, Canada.
I have been to Intercourse, PA. If you love fun place names, you should check out a map of Newfoundland. My mother-in-law is from there, and we have visited. Some are just picturesque, like Harbour Grace, Bay Bulls, Tickle Cove, Tickle Beach, Tickle Harbour, Leading Tickles (a jolly bunch those Newfies must be), Cupids, Mosquito, Goblin, Garnish, Harbour Buffet (to go with the Garnish, perhaps?), Goobies, Come by Chance, Renews, Dildo, Dildo South, Bacon, Old Shop, Gin Cove, Doting Cove, Noggin, Tilting, Little Seldom (emphatic redundancy, perhaps), Joe Batt's Arm, Too Good Arm, Virgin Arm, Whale's Gulch, Lushes Bight, Black Duck, Jerrys Nose, Witless Bay, and Blow Me Down.
Some tell stories of great hardship, which is remarkable considering the penchant of most New World pioneers to give their godforsaken new home a name with some gloss and hopeful (if not outright deceptive) - but what do we make of Hungry Hill, Burnt Islands, Little Burnt Bay, Isle aux Morts, Camp Boggy, Bareneed, Farewell, Gallows Cove, and such? But some must have found contentment and prosperity there. There are Heart's Content, Heart's Delight, and Heart's Desire, all just across Trinity Bay from Little Heart's Ease. - Randal Allred.
There is also a town in Norway, just north of Trondheim, called Hell. They get no shortage of English speaking visitors in this little town who go there just so they can say they have gone to Hell and back. - Kerilyn Cole.
Paradise, Pennsylvania and Hell, Michigan seem to call for Purgatory, Maine. It is actually quite a disappointing place. Its corner grocery store didn't even have post cards celebrating the name! - James and Helen Miller.
We found two websites with huge lists of even weirder U.S. place names.
First, we discovered a story written by Sherry Stripling in the Seattle Times, which mentions Scratch Ankle, Alabama; Good Grief, Idaho; Panic, Pennsylvania; Stinking Point, Virginia; Yum Yum, Tennessee (reminds us of Australia's Woy Woy and Wagga Wagga); Dynamite, Washington, and Tranquility, California, Nothing, Arizona and Zero, Montana.
Sherry was reviewing New York photographer Gary Gladstone's book, Passing Gas: And Other Towns Along the American Highway (Ten Speed Press, $19.95), so named because people who drive through Gas, Kansas, are told not to blink or they'll pass Gas.
Eager to learn more about Gary's book, we found a detailed description of it, plus a gallery of superb photos, on his website
"I drove 38,000 miles visiting tiny places with funny names," says Gary. "I made a portrait in a different town every day and posted daily journals on the Photo News Network website. It is now a book."
His photos have appeared in Life, Look and the Saturday Evening Post. Making nine trips in five years, he shot 21,000 frames of film, and visited (among many other odd places) Ding Dong, Surprise, Goofy Ridge and Monkey's Eyebrow.
If you visit his website, be sure to look at his remarkable slide show. There are great pictures of Gas, Purgatory, Tightwad, Rough and Ready, Sweetlips, Good Grief, Bitter End, Suck Egg Hollow and Lovely.
Two Egg, Florida:
Posted by Eric Shackle at 23:09 Saturday, 19 May 2012
Condom, Intercourse and other strange places
Most countries have towns with strange names. PITY ME is in England, INTERCOURSE is in Pennsylvania, HELL is in Michigan, while MORON is in Cuba; PARADISE is in California, while SURFERS PARADISE is in Australia.
"INTERCOURSE is the hub where the Amish and local folks do their business and host thousands of visitors each year," says that town centre's website.
beautiful Amish farms surround the Village.... INTERCOURSE is [near] our sister Villages of BIRD-IN-HAND and STRASBURG .
"The Village stands as a clear reminder of our traditional American heritage as people live by a simpler way of life. Formerly known as CROSS KEYS from a noted old tavern, this village was founded in 1754."
No one knows for sure how INTERCOURSE acquired its name, says the Centre. It cites these theories:
The entrance to a racecourse east of the town was known as ENTERCOURSE, which gradually evolved into INTERCOURSE, the name given to the town in 1814.
Two major roads crossed there. The junction could have led to the town being called CROSS KEYS or eventually INTERCOURSE.
"Old English" language was more common in 1814. Intercourse referred to the "fellowship" or social interaction and friendship which was so much a part of an agricultural village and culture at that time.
So much for Intercourse. Now what about PITY ME? My friend Ian Scott-Parker, an Englishman living in HURRICANE, Utah, used to live near that oddly-named English village just north of DURHAM (pronouced Durrum).
He recalled other odd names: "COCKERMOUTH and GREAT COCKUP are always worth a giggle," he said. "The Scottish town of ECCLEFECHAN (birthplace of Thomas Carlyle), not far north of Carlisle, seems to please, though I never figured out why; visitors to Cumbria are amazed to find that TORPENHOW is pronounced Trapenna, and the delightful town of APPLETREEWICK in North Yorkshire is pronounced Apptrick."
British historian David Simpson says "It has been suggested PITY ME was the site of a small lake or 'mere' and that the name means Petit Mere, Petty Mere or Peaty Mere.
"A more fanciful suggestion is that St Cuthbert's coffin was dropped there by wandering monks on their way to Durham. The miracle-working saint is said to have pleaded with the monks to be more careful and take pity on him.
"Another suggestion is that PITY ME is the cry of the Peewits (or Lapwings) which inhabit the area. Other PITY MEs can be found in the north of England, including a small place near BARRASFORD in the North Tyne valley, and a PITY ME near BRADBURY in south Durham."
Across the Atlantic, there's a place named HELL in Michigan. "Tucked away as it is amidst the hills, creeks, and rivers, HELL maintains a strange combination of notoriety and attraction," says the website. "People come to visit, to see HELL, to say they've been to HELL and back."
It says there are two theories as to how the town gained its name in the early 1830s.
    Theory # 1: Two German travelers slid out of a curtained stagecoach one sunny summer afternoon, and one said to the other, "So schoene hell." "Hell," in the German language, means bright and beautiful. Those who overheard the visitors' comments had a bit of a laugh and shared the story with the other locals, who [promptly adopted the name for their village].
    Theory # 2: The area in which HELL exists is pretty low and swampy. Traveling through the area would have been wetter, darker, more convoluted, and certainly denser with mosquitoes than other legs of the journey. River traders would have had to portage between the Huron and the Grand River systems near the present location of Hell. You can picture them pulling their canoes, heavy with provisions and beaver pelts, through the underbrush, muttering and swatting bugs as they fought to get to the banks of the next river.
In California, there's a place named ZZYZYX (just the place for a quiet zizz).
Other countries have place names which sound strange to English-speaking visitors. Cuba, for instance, has a town called MORON. It has a population of 50,000. What do they call themselves?
Readers of the Sydney Morning Herald's quirky Column 8 trivia pagecontributed these imaginary yet familiar place names:
  • Going to Buggery
  • Drinking in Moderation
  • Living in Sin
  • Living in Exile
  • Living in Poverty
  • Living in Hope
  • Taking Care
  • Taking Umbrage
  • Dying in Vain
  • Placed in Jeopardy
  • Bombing at Random
  • Escapees at Large
Random has its place in history, says Ian Hunt, of Carlingford. After a foggy night during the World War II blitz, he says, the BBC reported that German planes had dropped their bombs at random in south-east Britain. That afternoon, the German propaganda broadcasts proudly boasted that "the town of Random has been heavily bombed".
We're reminded, too, that in the 1944 northern Burma campaign around Myitkina, the US forces, having captured the airfield, grandly announced they had captured the town, where the Chindits were still fighting. It's said a message went out that the "the British have taken umbrage". The Americans couldn't find Umbrage on the map. -- Sydney Morning Herald.
Link: Intercourse:
Posted by Eric Shackle Wednesday, 9 May 2012, from Sydney, Australia.

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