Wednesday, May 03, 2006


City Names that Make Me Smile, or, The Fruits of Sleep Deprivation


Walla Walla







Rancho Cucamonga

Lake Titicaca



Here in the Northeast, there’s a convenience store chain called Wawa. There's a city called Mahwah. I don't know if there's a Mahwah Wawa, but there should be. I’m waiting for them to open a store in Walla Walla, so there could be a Walla Walla Wawa.

In Princeton, there’s a small shuttle train the locals call the Dinky, which has a stop near a Wawa. If a similar train were built in Walla Walla, you could catch the Walla Walla Wawa Dinky. I could say that phrase all day long.

What city names make you smile?

Sleep…need sleep…

Yazoo City, MS.
Possum Grape, AR.
Tomato, AR.
Of course, there's Hell, MI

And then there's Climax, MI

There's a town in Iowa called "What Cheer," which is pronounced as one word, something like "Whacheer."
There is also Climax in Georgia.

Here is a great site:
Truth or Consequences, NM, of course.

Also, Eighty-Eight (I think in PA), and when you're traveling on Rt. 80 to State College, PA, there's a town called "Jersey Shore" that's not very close to NJ, nor is it by any water.

NJ also has TWO towns called Manunka Chunk.

Clearly, I've given a lot of thought to this issue.
I lived in Washington state for a short period of time, and saw a larger number of amusing city names there than anywhere else.

Hoquiam...Humptulips...Snoqualmie...Puyallup...and yes, Walla Walla.

And I'm amazed that nobody has mentioned Intercourse, PA yet.
Given that you live in the Northeast and enjoy baseball, I thought you might appreciate what comes to my mind when I'm sleep deprived...

At one point, my hometown team, the Phillies, had Ricky Jordan playing first base; Mickey Morandini playing second; and Dickie Thon playing shortstop.

I wish that, just once, I had heard Harry Kalas say "Dickie to Mickey to Ricky...DOUBLE PLAY!"
That Austrian town living happily for centuries until everybody started to learn English: Fucking near Salzburg.
Australia has some of the best:


coming to mind immediately. You can chase irritating small children while saying the names of any of these in a basso-profundo voice and they will stop being irritating.
Canada has our fair share, but the most named is probably Dildo, Newfoundland.
But why would they name a convenience store after a town in Ontario? The last time I was in Wawa, there was not a Wawa there.
I don't think Mahwah has a WaWa; the chain is based in areas/states south of the city.
Have you heard the story of how Nome got its name because the mapmakers put "Name?" on the map & it (a) was mistranscribed and (b) stuck? (Story, I said; I don't know if it's true or not.)
You already got some of my favorites (and, funny, having *grown up* in Washington State none of the names that Anonymous mentioned actually struck me as odd!), but here are two that do:

Cos Cob (CT)
Yreka (CA--pronounced why-REEK-ah, and not to be confused with Eureka, which is a different town).
I had a friend that grew up in Sandwich, IL and went to the Sandwich High School.
Cos Cob is a good one! And I like "Humptulips."

I forgot Normal, Illinois.
And western Nebraska has an Ogallala, which means if there were a train from there to Washington, it'd be the Ogallala-Walla Walla.
Bean Blossom, IN, home of Bill Monroe's bluegrass festival.

Also, I'm fond of Rising Sun, IN, where the high school athletic teams used to be called the "Dawns".
A favourite of mine has always been Baie des Ha! Ha!, Quebec. (And yes, you do have to use the exclamation points.)
Some more from WA are Sequim (pronounced "Squim"), Pe Ell, Vader, and Adna. There's also Boring, OR, Drain, OR, and Weed, CA.
Just take a ride on Amtrak's Empire Builder ... Wauwatosa, Oconomomowoc, Ixonia, Wyocena, Wabasha. You're not too far from Westosha, Winneconne, or Oshkosh.

Sandwich and Normal and Harmony are not too far from where I'm posting.
Damn. Someone beat me to Weed, CA. I've actually been there. There's an airport. Given its name, you'd think it would fit in better over by Eureka, but it's actually closer to Yreka...which isn't all that exciting a town.

I also have Surprise, AZ to share
Gualala, CA

So, if there was a train from Nebraska to Washington to could be the Ogallala-Gualala with a stop-over in Walla-Walla.
Our WA reps forgot one of the best: Mukilteo. (Muck-uhl-tee-oh)
Bucksnort, TN
Bogue Chitto, MS
Guin and Gu-win, AL (a couple miles apart)
Tickfaw, LA
Pumpkin Center, LA
Senatobia, MS
Tillatoba, MS
Gluckstadt, MS
Yazoo City, MS
Skiatook, OK
Sapulpa, OK
Umatilla, OR
Toppenish, WA
Sedro-Woolley, WA
Sekiu, WA
Auchenshuggle (outskirts of Glasgow)
Footdee - old part of Aberdeen and pronounced 'Fittie'
Findochty and Garioch in Aberdeenshire - pronounced Finechty and Geerie - to taunt the non-locals I'm sure.
Temple of Fiddes
Frome Ferry (the road sign has another sign underneath saying 'there is no ferry at Frome Ferry' - always makes me laugh)
Gardenstown - but often still called Gamrie, took me years to realise they were one and the same.

Thats just in Scotland - don't get me started with England.
Stephen, you added a syllable to Oconomowoc. Other Milwaukee area / Wisconsin jems are the Kinnikinick (a river), Pewaukee, Oshkosh, Waukesha (accent on the first syllable, please!), Chenequa, Kewaskum, Hubertus...
Illinois also has a town named Oblong, IL, which is a couple of hours from Normal. The proximity of these 2 communities once yielded the immortal headline on the society page of the Bloominton Pantagraph, "Oblong girl marries Normal boy."
Peculiar MO -- it says it all..
I was born in Normal, IL.
Thanks, Anonymous Wisconsin ... I'll delete one "mo" from Oconomowoc and add one "c" to Kinnickinnick. But we've missed a some gems near Madison, namely Mazomanie, Baraboo, and the one, the only, Waunakee. So one could go from the WaWa at Waunakee (wasn't that the home of the original Culver's?) to the WaWa at Waukesha (where people used to go to take the waters) to the Wauwatosa WaWa.
One of my favorite town names is DimeBox Texas. My mom had this book called "Why Is It Called That" about names of locations around the Southwest. It seems that a dimebox was an actual toll box placed at the edge of someone's property for people to use the road that went through it. Another wonderful Texas name is Gunbarrel City. And then there's Paradise. But I think the best one is Truth or Consequences New Mexico.
I go for pronunciation foibles, myself.

Versailles, IN (Ver-sayles)
Rio Grande, OH (Ryo-grand)
Cairo, IL (Kay-ro)
Milan, OH (and MI) (My-lan)

There are more subtle ones, which can be used by local people to detect aliens and furriners relatively easily. The exact pronunciation of Lancaster, PA's name will point you our as a city slicker or a local rube, every time.
Ogallala - Walla Walla is too cool an idea not to use. I'll get on the horn to Amtrak immediately!

I love "Oblong girl marries Normal boy." My favorite headline ever was from the sports page of a New York paper years and years ago: a Catholic high school called Christ the King had lost a basketball game to its archrival, St. somebody, earlier in the season, and a rematch was imminent. The headline read "Christ the King Seeks Revenge."

I, for one, found that fairly alarming.
Well, since you mentioned Wawa, Dean Dad, we now know (vaguely) where you're located -- either northern DE, South Jersey, or Philadelphia, PA area.
not true-- there are now Wawas here in Maryland as well.

trying to help you cling to anonymity, Dean Dad!

Also, I once had a stepfather who came from Mahwah, and it is a delightful name.
For me, the winner will always be Yeehaw Junction, FL.
Sequim (Skwim) WA
San Ardo, CA
Carpinteria, CA
Pe Ell, WA
Cle Elum, WA
Someone pointed out Climax, MN. There's also a town called Fertile, MN. And a (real) headline that made Jay Leno's show?

"Fertile woman dies in Climax."
Toad Suck, AR (They even have a toad suck festival.)

(Yeah, I'm late ... but I couldn't resist.)
Slapout, OK
Ding Dong, TX
and the best... you take Lotawata Road to get to Nowata, OK! You have to say that last one aloud.
I'm surprised no one mentioned Menominee.

Rotorua is another good one.
Ah yes, Walla Walla, Native American for “Many Waters,” pronounced W-ay-ll-ah W-ah-ll-ay. Now say it out loud at least twice.

I'm just kidding about the pronunciation; it's said just as it is spelled: W-aw-ll-ah W-aw-ll-ah. However, for some reason, people who aren't familiar with the town often have a hard time wrapping their tongue around the second Walla. They tend to drawl it out like the town belongs in Texas, not SE Washington.

Or sometimes people will say it more like an inquiry: Walla Walla?
As though they still don't quite believe they should be saying the same word twice and are questioning you on whether or not it’s possible for a whole town to be playing a practical joke on them.

FYI Walla Walla is a great town to live in. Look it up sometime. It was Money Magazines 2006 top voted place to retire.
...and Lake Eufaula is near lotawata road. When visiting this lake, make sure you stay at Eufaula Inn.
For all you suffering New Yorkers, there's Suffern, New York.
Suffern, right next to Mahwah where there should be a WaWa.
My 2 cents: Okay, Oklahoma.
Tahlequah, OK
Hooker, OK not far from Beaver.
Chickasha, OK
Okmulgee,OK and Lahoma, Oklahoma :)

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