(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:
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….
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.
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:
- Mount Joy
- East Cocalico, West Cocalico and plain old Cocalico
- Lititz (pronounced LID-itz –sorry)
- Mechanics Grove (is it just me or do these things seem mutually exclusive?)
- Bareville (full name: Leacock-Leola-Bareville)
- Nickel Mines
- Safe Harbor
Thanks to the gang for having me on the blog. Let’s do it again sometime.
*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.