The Corner

Places & Names

Last week, I had a column that touched on Americans’ knowledge of geography — which is much derided. I brought up Missouri (for reasons that need not be gone into now). And this occasioned some mail from that state, including this note:

You got me to thinking. I live in Mexico. I grew up south of Lebanon. My dad worked for several years around Versailles. I have been to Cuba several times. I worked for a while in Troy. I visit Paris on business. I have fished near Warsaw. Driven thru El Dorado (Springs, that is). I’ve visited Nevada, Milan, Parma, Vienna, Westphalia, Sparta, Athens, Rhineland, and Washington. All without leaving the borders of Missouri.

And I can tell you the origins of the names of all. Even though I was born in Springfield, the town generic enough to house the Simpsons.

Isn’t that marvelous? Also, I sometimes discuss names — beautiful ones, unusual ones. A reader of ours mentioned a name found in a Financial Times article. She is “Hong Kong project co-ordinator for the International Federation”: Serenade Woo.

Not bad at all.

Recommended

The Latest