What’s in a Name?

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luforslideshowrevise-copyParis has the Champs Elysees, Rome the Via Veneto. London’s got Pall Mall. New York has Broadway. So why doesn’t Chestertown have a Fish Street? Like it used to, as shown on the old maps.

Why does the grand entrance to one of the world’s great villages – once named with Early American redolence, ah, Fish Street — now go by ubiquitous Maple Avenue, changing to commonplace Washington Avenue, or sometimes just plain Rt. 213? Every burg in America is boasting the first two monikers and even Elkton shares the last. I look at street names around town and I can’t help but think, somebody’s got imagination deficit disorder. Elm? Cedar? Holly?

Now Philosophers Terrace, that’s panache. Water Street has the virtue of evoking what happens there when Isabel comes. But College? And Campus? I’ve heard Old John say, “My dog can do better than that.” I don’t know about that “my,” quite the reverse I’d say, but in fact I can. Why couldn’t one of those be named for the man who founded Washington College: Reverend William Smith Avenue? How come there’s so little attention paid to our not-so-favorite native sons? What about a Capt. James Vickers Way for the hero of the Battle of Caulks Field? What about a General George Vickers Boulevard, for the U.S. senator who voted to acquit in the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson? Oops. Turns out there’s a short drive named Vickers (for which one, if either, is not specified) off Flatland Road — it leads to jail. But how about something for three other Chestertownians who sat in the U.S. Senate: Ezekiel Chambers Avenue, James A. Pearce Place, Philip Reed Road? Or something for the silent film actress, say a Miriam Cooper’s Loop, who starred in Birth of a Nation? Or what about a roundabout for our very own Perry Hall — and this comes from Wikipedia, so must be so — “a notorious skateboarder.”

Well, renaming probably isn’t going to happen. But Councilman Gibson Anthony is researching the possibility of street signs that would also take note of some old names and the earliest dates we’re aware they were in use. It’s a subscripting, so old names would go under some current ones. “It’s so you can see the current postal address but also see the original street name,” he says. The Town Council hasn’t formally decided to do this, it’s just exploring it. Why subscript, why not go back to some of the old names? Anthony notes there’s a cost to getting that done and there’s a matter of inconvenience to residents, who’d need all their documentation changed, like notices to credit card companies.

Me, I’d just change it, then tell Visa, go Fish for it.

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Letters to Editor

  1. You must not have grown up in C-Town and watched it grow. There is nothing wrong with the street names. Fish Street should be in Rock Hall.

  2. If you had grown up in this town, you would have observed many of the streets actually being name. Looking back, that was history in the making. Don’t mess with the current names! If you do, some of us will never find our way back home when we come to visit.

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