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What's in a name, anyway?

March 25, 2004|by TIM ROWLAND

A quilt or a bridge? There's a choice.

Once again, the state of West Virginia completely ignored my solid opinion that the new state quarter should incorporate a picture of a still, and went instead with a quilt - or a bridge.

Like every other state doesn't have a quilt and every other state doesn't have a bridge. At least the bridge is the one spanning the scenic New River Gorge, so I can sort of see that. But a quilt? What does that say to the rest of the nation? We're cold? We feel a draft? They should have just gone with a shawl.

It doesn't even look like a quilt. It just looks like the state in plaid, like someone overlaid West Virginia with Scotland. Or, like you're looking at the state through the lattice that hides the crawl space under your porch.

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If they're going the cloth route, why not a T-shirt? I see that Gov. Bob Wise is bent out of shape over Abercrombie & Fitch's marketing of a T-shirt with the slogan, "It's All Relative in West Virginia."

Oh please, hasn't he heard that any publicity is good publicity? I'd say it's progress that a hip outfit like Abercrombie & Fitch even realizes that West Virginia exists.

And goodness, this is Abercrombie-Fitch, not Miriam-Webster. They're the company that tries to sell clothes by making their sales staff and catalog models wear less of them. Who over the age of 17 takes them seriously, anyway?

But we're all tied up in symbolism and perception, which is why, for example, the City of Hagerstown has approved a new name for its "Municipal Golf Course."

Hagerstown Administrative Services Director John Budesky said, "Traditionally, many people associate 'municipal' with a course of lower quality of play."

Oh really? Why ever would that be?

A more fitting name, he suggested, would be "Hagerstown Greens at Hamilton Run."

Um, OK. It's a real one-eighty, I'll say that. "Municipal Golf Course" to "Hagerstown Greens at Hamilton Run." You've gone from lunch pail to fox hunt in a split second.

The downside, and I don't mean this in a critical way, is that it sounds like a subdivision. Or a salad. I've seen gated communities that have shorter names than this. And less pretentious, too. It just seems if someone invites you to Hagerstown Greens at Hamilton Run, you're likely to show up in the back seat of a stretch Bentley. "Oh. When you said to be sure and bring my driver, I assumed..."

I can't say I've ever been there, but does Municipal Golf Course have a clubhouse where you can get a beer? If so, they can name it, "Tavern on the Greens."

But in today's hectic world, no one's going to want to say Hagerstown Greens at Hamilton Run. There isn't time.

Granted, "municipal" isn't the sexiest word in the world. Neither is "City." Or "Dual." We may need a whole raft of name changes to shape up our image.

City Park becomes The Carp at Dogwood Flats. Dual Highway has lots of restaurants up and down the strip. Let's call it the "Chomps Elysees."

Gonna have to do something about Municipal Stadium, too.

(A quilt, what were they thinking? A quilt. Heavens to Betsy.)

Maybe "The Diamond That's Really Rough" or "Very Short Meadow on Antietam Creek."

City Light is kind of pedestrian, too. The Hagerstown Illumination Works would be better. And they will have to do something about "Public Square," too. Maybe "The Commons on Don't Tell Me Agnes Went With Yellow Tulips In The Planters Again Way."

Of course, I don't know that anything would help Public Square, which has changed its look so often over the years it's like it's in the Witness Protection Program or something.

But look, I've argued against Hagerstown and Washington County's bland names for years, so in the end, I am a supporter of the move to Hagerstown Greens, and any other changes they might wish to make. If they can keep them under six or seven syllables in the future, hey, so much the better. But either way, I'm on board.

I refuse, however, to give in on the quilt.




Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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