Saturday, February 24, 2007

A Place to Hang One's Hat

Shavuah Tov, everyone. Sometimes brilliant ideas come to mind over Shabbat; you can't write them just have to hope you remember them -- for your blog! -- for when Shabbat is out. Lucky I just remembered that something today triggered an idea for a post...

I was looking at an item in my armoire today and noticed the label. Made in China for some corporation located in...CITY OF INDUSTRY, CALIFORNIA.

What the heck kind of name is that? It sounds so Orwellian, so "1984" as in "Big Brother is watching." It doesn't sound real, so I just decided to look it up. It's a real place with real history, real people, and, of course, real industry.

And then I thought of other "odd" names of places I've heard or seen.

The one that stands out for me the most is INTERCOURSE, PENNSYLVANIA. It lies in the heart of Amish country, and is a tourist attraction...probably simply 'cause of the name. I was there many, many years ago with very frum Yeshivish cousins of mine and we toured a homestead. When I got to the gift shop, I decided I had to add to my slogan button collection. Up to that point, for all the years I'd collected buttons, I'd never purchased one, aside from perhaps giving a donation to a cause to get one. But I just HAD to buy this one: "ASK ME ABOUT INTERCOURSE." (Of course that button just got shoved into a box in my cupboard along with the rest of the collection; I was never brave enough to wear it on a shirt...just to get a reaction from people).

I also read this about the town:

This is the name of a small town in the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch country in Lancaster County. It is mostly a tourist attraction in the summer. There are lots of small shops and there is also an old hardware store that the Amish people frequent.

It is not hard to find but you cannot find any road signs directing you there. They are stolen as fast as they can be put up so the road dept. doesn't buy them anymore.

While there, I also picked up a free newspaper "The Intercourse News" -- I'd always wanted to copy that banner and design my own newspaper with its own sections and headings, writing up my own fun, and salacious articles. It would've been so appropriate in later years when I worked for the world's largest and most popular romance publisher, don't you think?

There's somewhere in the country we go to via a smaller rural highway. I pass signs for MOON RIVER, and of course Dean Martin starts serenading me in my mind...or is it Andy Williams? I used to watch both their shows...and I'm guessing they both sang that song.

I've also passed a sign for GO HOME LAKE. C'mon, now what kind of message are you giving tourists in Ontario when you have a sign like that? Upon seeing the sign, no doubt people can often be heard murmuring, "WHAT?! We just got here! Harumph, seems as if we're not wanted 'round these parts..."

I just looked up the name of that lake...and apparently the name doesn't just stop with a lake.

Fur traders would meet on Go Home Lake at the end of the season to "go home", hence the name. Go Home Lake is approximately 5 miles long and ranges from a 1/2 to 3/4 miles wide. Its length runs in a north-south orientation. The lake is fed at its most northern point by the Moon River. Go Home Lake empties into the Gibson River at the south end of the lake as well as into the Go Home River at the north end of the lake.

You're really not wanted if Go Home Lake becomes Go Home River. There's probably a sign somewhere at the foot of the river that says simply: GO HOME.

(And it was merely coincidence that Moon River played into this description too. I didn't quite remember where I'd seen these signs, and that they were anywhere close to one another, but apparently these place names made such an impression on me, didn't they?)

I've not been to this place; it chills me to think it even exists with this name.

This is fun to look at; so is this. And if you've got nothing better to do, why not visit, BORING, OREGON? Or even better, COME BY CHANCE, NEWFOUNDLAND? And if it's too cold where you are, pop in to HELL, TEXAS. Don't get lost in LOONEYVILLE, WEST VIRGINIA! And WHY, ARIZONA might be what you ask after your trip!

If any of you have a personal experience with or knowledge of an odd place name, why not share it with us? (the experience couldn't possibly be any weirder than the name!)