Lancaster County, keeping it real since 1710

(Dave’s note: I know I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but today’s post is a special one, this time for two reasons. 1. It’s our first post profiling funny names of anything other than people, and 2. we are also welcoming our first-ever guest contributor, whose last name is actually Mailman, even though she is neither male nor man. Her first name may or may not be the same as the title of a 90’s sitcom. She is a dear college friend of Arto’s and mine – not just because of her name – and holds the distinction of being the first person to tell me about Bald Knob, Arkansas. Without further ado, let’s welcome Mailman!)

Hello, The Blog of Funny Names fans! I’m so excited to be a guest contributor today! As a funny-named individual (last name: Mailman; first name: sort of rhymes with Mailman), I share a similar fondness for funny names and know firsthand the plight that comes with owning one. On my first day in seventh grade, I, the innocent new girl, got sent to the principal’s office since the librarian thought I was “playing funny” when I told her my name to get my library card – these things can change the way you look at the world, but I think I’ve managed just fine. Anyway, enough about me and my tales of nominal woe. I’m mixing things up a bit on The Blog of Funny Names today and bringing you a collection of preciously funny town names, courtesy of Lancaster* County, Pennsylvania.

I’ve spent a handful of weekends up in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country over the past few years, and between the wide open spaces, the unparalleled Amish baked goods, and excellent outlet shopping, the place has a lot to offer – but my favorite part always has to be the wealth of funny names. Let’s get started with my top 3:

Everything you need to know is already on the sign.

Bird-in-Hand, population 402: There’s something really great about a hyphenated, figure-of-speech-based name. The history of this village’s name stretches back to 1734, almost rivaling blog favorite Outerbridge Horsey for longevity; the place is now known best for its bake shop and smorgasbord. Originally called Enterprise, a great name in itself, the sign for the hotel in town had on it a picture of an outstretched hand holding a bird, with two other birds perched in a nearby bush. As a result, the very literal, landmark-centric folk called the area “Bird-in-Hand” until the name officially changed in 1873. Now that we’ve covered the bird in our hand, we can move on to the two in the bush….

It’s real, and it’s fabulous.

Intercourse, population 1,558: Right next door to Bird-in-Hand is the giggle-inducing village of Intercourse. The area was originally called “Cross Keys,” named after the local tavern. There are so many theories about the history of the name that you can’t help but wonder if they are all just face-saving measures for a population embarrassed about re-naming their town after a few too many at said tavern, but the village’s official stance is that they just don’t know. As if Intercourse on its own isn’t great enough, a look at any map will also show that it happens to be sandwiched between two other little gems named Blue Ball and Paradise. Thankfully, this hasn’t been lost on the entrepreneurs of the area, and innuendo-based souvenirs are never in short supply.

No more Willows for Willow Street.

Willow Street, population 7,258: This one doesn’t often come across the radar of funny town name enthusiasts when looking at the area, simply because there are so many chucklers to choose from. However, the people of Willow Street face a constant struggle in describing their locale. They tell you they live in Willow Street and you ask what town that’s in. They tell you it’s a town so you ask what street they live on. They tell you the street, and you say you don’t know where that is because you’d never even heard of Willow Street until just now. And then you ask if Intercourse is a real place! The poor Willow Streeters. As with Bird-in-Hand and Cross Keys (and Intercourse, if we’re being honest with ourselves) the town was literally named because the main street used to be lined with Willow trees, though the originals were removed long ago.

Rounding out the baker’s dozen are 10 other excellent and mostly self-explanatory names within the County:

  1. Mount Joy
  2. East Cocalico, West Cocalico and plain old Cocalico
  3. Lititz (pronounced LID-itz –sorry)
  4. Farmersville
  5. Fivepointville
  6. Mechanics Grove (is it just me or do these things seem mutually exclusive?)
  7. Hinkletown
  8. Bareville (full name: Leacock-Leola-Bareville)
  9. Nickel Mines
  10. Safe Harbor

Thanks to the gang for having me on the blog. Let’s do it again sometime.


Until we meet again.

*The people in PA are very particular about the pronunciation of their funny-name-laden area. It’s pronounced “LANG-kiss-tur,” so if you have any hope of impressing people with your newfound funny name knowledge of the area, whatever you do, don’t pronounce it LAN-caster. LANG-kiss-tur. LANG-kiss-tur. LANG-kiss-tur. Excellent.

About Mailman

I like funny names too.
This entry was posted in Greatest hits. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Lancaster County, keeping it real since 1710

  1. I’m from PA! That’s all I can say is they’re a strange crew up there in Lancaster Co. and I’m sure they think the same about us Philly folk. Great guest post!

  2. Someone I knew went to Intercourse and bought one of those funny t-shirts.

    • Mailman says:

      That’s awesome! I’ve gotten postcards, fridge magnets and wine tasting glasses that say “Lover’s Paradise: Intercourse PA” with a buggy on them, but have not gotten so bold as a t-shirt. Yet.

  3. Great guest post. Just makes we want to go there.

  4. amb says:

    Dear Mailman,
    I know we don’t know each other, but I have to tell you, you will forevermore hold a special place in my heart for penning the following segue: “Now that we’ve covered the bird in our hand, we can move on to the two in the bush….intercourse.”
    Best. Innuendo. Ever. If it wasn’t for this summer cold my coffee would’ve come out my nose. The boys are going to have to step up their game after this!
    Love, amb

    • Dave says:

      Mailman is pretty spectacular. I’m glad we could finally convince her to contribute. It took three or four requests before I could finally get her to.

      Amazing puns like that only come around once in a while. I’m always trying to step up my game, but that one might not be topped for a while. I’m fine with Mailman getting some love (in fact, I’m glad that she is, because she deserves it), but don’t ever forget the first person who ever made you swoon digitally. 😉

      • amb says:

        Dear Dave,
        Apple of my eye, light of my life, etc etc etc. Don’t be fooled by my recent lack of blog-attention; in light of recent events, I’m just trying to play it cool and avoid a restraining order. You know you’re my favourite.
        Love, amb

    • Mailman says:

      Wowie! Thanks for the high praise! Anyone telling these boys to step up their games means business.

      I definitely had some fun with that segue. These town names have so much hilarity potential that it would be a shame to let a line like that go. I’m just sorry it wasn’t funny enough to propel your coffee right through that summer cold and out your nose. Feel better!

      • amb says:

        Thank you! I’m working on it. Reading blog comments when I’m supposed to be working definitely helps 😉 Hopefully your guest-post-of awesomeness becomes a tradition around here!

  5. Bumba says:

    Yes, a great post.

    • Dave says:

      Thanks! Mailman must be our lucky charm, because we’ve pulled in more hits today than any other day in our blog’s history. Most of it is because of our Olympics coverage, but it’s still something she can brag about.

  6. Dave says:

    Fun fact: back in college, I had a friend who decided to play a prank on me by adding “e” at the end of everyone’s last name in my cell phone’s address book. Mailmane was one of my favorites.

    • Mailman says:

      That had to have one of the highest time consumption:impact ratio pranks I’ve known.

      On a side note, I’ve had a hilarious time coming up with possible names based on my 90s sitcom description. “Who’s the Boss” Mailman is my current favorite, followed closely by “Murphy Brown” Mailman.

  7. Mailman says:

    Thanks for all the love, folks!

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  12. cliff says:

    So glad I found this one. You might enjoy my blog (place names only) too:

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