June 8, 2016
The story goes that Eleva, Wisconsin got its name due to an unfinished painting job. The town, founded in 1880, was originally called New Chicago. But in 1899 workmen partially painted the word "elevator" on the side of a new grain elevator by the railway track, but stopped because it got too cold, leaving just "Eleva." Railroad passengers assumed that was what the town was called, and eventually the name stuck.
Eleva's wikipedia page
repeats the paint job story as the official history of the name, but in the references there's also a link to a 1908 reference book — A History of the Origin of the Place Names Connected with the Chicago & North Western and Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railways
— and here we find a different history of the name:
Eleva, Trempeleau County, Wisconsin. This town was started in 1880 and was named by R.P. Goddard of Mondovi, Wisconsin, on the suggestion of Mr. Gates who formerly lived here. The origin of the name is unknown to Mr. Goddard, but he thinks Mr. Gates found a place of that name in France.
So I guess you can take your pick of which story you like better.
Mt. Vernon Register-News - Jan 21, 1964
April 27, 2016
Upon becoming a U.S. citizen, Turkish-born Haroutioun A. Aprahamian changed his name to Haroutioun A. Abrahamian.
I know this got reported as weird news in the 1950s because it seemed like an odd twist on the phenomenon of immigrants Americanizing their names, but this guy probably just wanted to correct the spelling of his name which perhaps had been misspelled by an immigration official.
When my dad moved to the States from Germany in the 40s, our last name Böse got written as Boese, making it unpronounceable. My sister was smart enough to start spelling it as "Bose" from an early age (actually, whenever possible she insists it be spelled "Böse"), but I never did, so now I'm stuck with the unpronounceable spelling.
The Wilmington News Journal - July 11, 1959
November 15, 2015
Warren Times-Mirror and Observer - Jan 15, 1973
ARMY ORIGINALITY — To boost morale, the Army Materiel Command recently held a contest to name its new national headquarters. More than 524 names were suggested, and the AMC's official Contest Committee to Name the New Building solemnly studied the offerings. At last, Maj. Gen. Charles T. Horner, the AMC chief of staff, announced with pride: "The name of the new AMC building is the AMC BUILDING." The lucky winner, Francis Sikorski, received $100 in appropriated monies for his shrewd suggestion.
The AMC Building - 5001 Eisenhower Ave. via Flickr.
I first encountered the story of how the AMC Building got its name in Chuck's 1989 News of the Weird
book. Later, I also noticed it in National Lampoon's True Facts
. So because I'm amusing myself over at about.com
by telling the story of some classic weird news stories in more depth, I recently decided to try to find out if there were any more details to the AMC story. For instance, what other names were submitted in the contest? Were all the other entries so bad that the committee decided it had to choose the most obvious name possible? Or was this really just "army originality" at work.
But after a lot of digging, I've come up empty.
The story of the name-choosing contest is mentioned in the Army Materiel Command's own official history
(pdf), published in 2013. So I contacted the AMC and asked them if they knew of any more details to the story. Their pr rep contacted the historians, who returned the answer that, no, that's all there is to the story. No other details survive. So we'll never know exactly why the "AMC Building" was the winning entry in the "Name the new AMC Building" contest.
But I can report that the AMC Building no longer houses the headquarters of the AMC. The AMC moved out of the Eisenhower Ave. building in 2002, relocating its headquarters first to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and later to Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, where it currently can be found.
October 29, 2015
[Click to enlarge text]
Wikipedia page here.
August 7, 2015
Right in the middle of charming little St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin (population 2000), Geoff Gorres and his business partners opened a gun store. Their choice of name: F-Bomb Ordnance.
Local residents aren't too happy about it, thinking it lowers the standards of the community to have the f-bomb "displayed prominently" on Main Street.
In response to the controversy, the owner says he may be willing to consider other options for signage, but he's definitely keeping the f-bomb name. More info: CBS (WCCO)
; The Sun
June 29, 2015
The FRED Society
was founded in 1984, and still appears to be going strong. It's a kind of support group for people (mostly men) named Fred, designed to address the negative connotations associated with the name. That is, when people hear the name Fred, they tend to think of characters such as Fred Mertz (the bumbling neighbor on 'I Love Lucy') or Fred Flintstone. The Fred Society would like us to think of Fred Astaire instead.
December 13, 2014
There was Christmas Jones, sent to prison for debt in January 1815.
Christmas Allen (father and son), both charged with larceny.
And Christmas Crisp, who did six months for larceny in 1837. His son, Christmas Crisp Junior, appears to have been an honest man.
Perhaps being named Christmas was the 19th Century equivalent of having the middle name Wayne. [via Criminal Historian
January 18, 2014
October 14, 2012
Washington state's Saar Pioneer Cemetery
contains an unusual grave. It's the resting place of John C. Monster (1851-1890) and his child "Baby Monster" (1888-1889). I haven't been able to find any additional details about the Monster family. (via the Oddment Emporium
September 1, 2012
Strange job title.
'Shepherd of the Royal Anus' (neru pehut) was a title held by several court physicians in Ancient Egypt, including Ir-en-akhty (who lived during the First Intermediate Period
) and his predecessor Khuy. It could also be translated as 'Herdsman of the Anus' or 'Guardian of the Anus'. Here's a partial explanation
As in all ancient cultures, the doctor was part of the priesthood. Each physician was responsible for curing only one illness. The god-king was attended to by a host of medical practitioners, each specializing in one body part and bearing such titles as Royal Keeper of the Pharaoh's Left Eye, Royal Keeper of the Pharaoh's Right Eye, or Shepherd of the Royal Anus.
[Neru Pehut was] a title borne by physicians qualified to prescribe and administer medicines rectally. Herodotus frequently speaks of the alimentary canal: the Egyptians, he says, 'purge themselves, for their health's sake, with emetics and clysters." Diodorus Siculus, writing four hundred years later, echoes this observation, saying that 'in order to prevent sicknesses they look after the health of their bodies by means of drenches, fastings, and emetics.' Enemas were among the most common modes of treatment, employed several times a month for preventive purposes.