When I was a youngster attending Pomona Elementary School, I always volunteered to help my teachers clean, organize, and store things away for the summer. I'd like to say that I volunteered out of the goodness of my heart and to lend a helping hand, but I had an ulterior motive. I volunteered and stood elbow to elbow with my teachers, so I could stake my claim to any discarded books. During the last week of school I'd lug a treasure trove of spelling workbooks, literature anthologies, and math books home. You'd think with all of this supplemental learning, I'd be extremely intelligent, but the books usually just cluttered up my room. To this day I like the idea of having a lot books within reach.
Being a teacher, allows me to still experience some joys of childhood: Snow Days. School Assemblies. Chili & Cinnamon Rolls Lunches. Pigs in a Blanket. Last week the librarian discarded some books, and once again I was a seven-year-old boy lugging a few treasures back home. One of the treasures was a book titled: Scratch Ankle, USA. American Place Names and their Derivation by Myron J. Quimby. The author's name and his photograph on the back of the book made me chuckle.
Then I read his biographical blurb:
"Myron Quimby was born in San Antonio, Texas, but grew to manhood in Atlanta, Georgia. Then he was aged, like a fine wine, in the United States Army. Entering the Army, with the Georgia National Guard, in February 1941, he served with the 4th Armored Division - Patton's Third Army. With the 179th Field Artillery, he landed on the Utah beachhead and took part in five European campaigns."
Mr. Quimby was quite the man.
For this edition of The Greasy Five, I used Mr. Quimby's book to compile a list of My Five Favorite Town Names:
- Licking, Missouri: "Settled around 1878, Licking took its name from a natural deer lick, which was located within one-quarter mile east of the town, and was alive with deer. Her hunters waited for the prey. Therefore, the place became know as The Lick, and later was changed to Licking. Licking is located in Texas County, named for the state of Texas, while the county seat, Houston, was named to commemorate Sam Houston's victory at San Jacinto."
- Pie Town, New Mexico: "This little village in New Mexico started out as a gasoline station where Cowboys (the modern ones) bought their gas. Later the proprietor, Clyde Norman, started frying small fruit pies to supplement his meager income. When Mr. and Mrs. H. L. Craig, who owned a mining claim nearby, bought him out Mrs. Craig kept on cooking and selling the popular pies. Prosperity brought a garage, a grocery store, a settlement, and finally the need for a post office. While they were scratching for a name, a cowboy suggested Pie Town, because, as he reasoned, 'We get our pies here.' And Pie Town, New Mexico, it is."
- Noodle, Texas: "Noodle, in western Jones County, ten mile north of Merkel, was named for Noodle Creek. Anderson Criswell of Fayette County brought 1,500 head of sheep to the area in 1882. Noodle Creek is an intermittent stream, which twists and turns its way across Nolan, Taylor, and Jones Counties, like a noodle"
- Hungry Horse, Montana: "The legend of Hungry Horse: 'Two husky freight horses, Tex and Jerry, working in the rugged wilderness of Flathead River's South Fork area, wandered away from their sleigh during the severe winter of 1900-01. After struggling for a month in belly-deep snow, they were found almost starved and so weak considerable care and feeding were required before they were strong enough to be led back to civilization. The name Hungry Horse was given to a mountain, a lake, and a creek in the vicinity of where the incident occurred, and later to the dam and town."
- Paw Paw, Illinois: "Three miles east of the present site of Paw Paw as a grove of Pawpaw trees. A settlement there was called Pawpaw Grove, then later East Pawpaw. When the Burlington put a branch track through this area, it missed East Pawpaw, so the residents simple moved the town to the railroad and called it Paw Paw, Illinois."
What's your favorite name for a town?