What’s In A Name?

Sometimes as I drive to work, I amuse myself by checking out the names of the roads on my way and wondering about them.

Yup. That’s me. Living the dream.

Anyway. The roads I take are a little strange, because they’re a combination of old twisty-turny farm roads and newer roads around subdivisions. I always wonder why the roads are named the way they are.

Some roads around here are named after people. “Brunner”. “Stryker”. Or, in that straightforward Pennsylvania Dutch way, for pieces of equipment – “Sickle”. “Chock”.

Some are named for landmarks. This can be a little confusing. For example there isn’t any blue church on “Blue Church Road”. The church that’s there is made of respectable grey stone. On the other hand, maybe the church feels blue? Does it play the blues? Does it have a Blue Christmas?

Some road names are ironic. “Beverly Hill Road” is indeed a hill, but the houses on it are respectable middle class, not high-end boutiques. People always give me a second look when I tell them I’m driving on Beverly Hill. Swimming pools. Movie stars.

Then there are the names that seem to come out of nowhere. I noticed this morning that one of the subdivision roads was named “October Glory Circle”. Wow. What a great name. Sounds majestic, doesn’t it? As if angels should be singing it. Oooocccctooobberrr GLLLLOOORRRYYYY!!!! AHHHH!!!!

We seem to have a lot of roads named after nuts. I can’t count the number of “Chestnut”s, “Acorn”s and “Walnut”s around. Sometimes a road is named after a physical characteristic, a landmark AND a nut. Thus we have “Chestnut Hill Church Road”.

Speaking of “Chestnut Hill Church Road”, it goes merrily along its way, then comes to a very short, gentle hill. At the top of the hill it’s Chestnut Hill Church Road. At the bottom it’s “Baumgartner Road”. WTF?

A lot of roads around here change their names at various points for no apparent reason. One road I drive on has at least three names from beginning to end. And it’s a straight road – no dog-legs. Hardly any turns. The main street in the town where I work changes names three times in about 5 miles. Why? Who the heck knows! “Take Second Street…I mean Chestnut Hill…I mean Grant…Oh, hell.”

And don’t even get me started on all of the roads with the same name. “Acorn. No, not that Acorn, THAT Acorn.”

Thus you now know the reason why nobody around here will give you directions.  It’s not that we’re rude.  There’s just no point.





  1. Oh, so true, Betsy. I think my favorite still has to be Street Road. I grew up hearing that and it never sounds funny unless you stop and think about it. i wonder if there is a Road Street anywhere?


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