Friday, September 10, 2010

Rearview Mirroring TX Towns

Texas has 254 counties and about 1030 school districts. In googling for the exact number of districts, I ran across different totals. Every 10 years, school district boundaries require verification. Texas Education Agency (TEA) is in charge of delineating the borders. The project is harder than it might sound. School districts expand, contract, consolidate, disagree with other districts over where the borders are, use natural borders that change because of nature, etc.

Back in the early 90s, TEA hired me as a contract "mapping technician", a title much more impressive sounding than the reality. I, along with other co-workers, needed to verify Texas school districts' borders according to legal definitions. (School district superintendents mailed back a TEA-sent letter.) Also, we needed to read descriptions that might be subject to different interpretations. One task was taping narrow red tape (!) on paper maps to delineate the boundaries.

During my time at TEA, I logged the names of many cities and towns—160, to be exact—because they caught my eye. I recently ran across my hardcopy file while reorganizing my workspace. Because I couldn't find Broom City in my computer, I knew I'd need to re-key the list before I could write a decent article about the places. As I re-keyed, I could see certain commonalities gel—lots of food, bodies of water, communities, money, gaps and related, wordplay (homophonic), a few names that could either try peoples' spelling or induce residents to learn spelling quickly, comforting words, a few peoples' or celebrities' names, shooter's paradise, ...

I've listed my best theme categories and cities/towns, a subset of the group I logged originally. I omitted county names so they won't dilute the collective impact of the names. A file with the names of all 160 municipalities and their counties is available in a table-formatted file. An asterisk below (*) denotes a municipality that I put into more than one category (asterisked in its first category appearance).

Food (one of my favorite subjects)
Oatmeal, Pancake, Sunny Side Community*, Coffee City, Teacup Community*, Honey Island*, Pecan Gap, Atwater Prairie Chicken (national wildlife refuge), Turkey, Birds Nest [soup], Krum* (okay, not the most appetizing, not normal spelling), Plum, Punkin Center (ok, another not normal spelling), Crabb (phonetic anyway), Hungerford (not food, but related), Bootleg Community*

Water bodies and related
Runaway Bay, Lake Run-A-Muck*, Hide-A-Way Lake*, Lake O' The Pines*, Possom Kingdom Lake, Bland Lake, Lake JB Thomas, Newgulf (24 miles from Old Ocean), Old Ocean (24 miles from Newgulf), Canyon Lake, Canyon Lake Acres, Canyon Lake Forest, Canyon Lake Mobile Home Estates, Canyon Lake Shores, Canyon Lake Village, Canyon Lake Village West, Honey Island (42 miles inland), Rock Island (80 miles inland)

Bootleg Community, Teacup Community, Sunny Side Community, Tobacco Patch Community, Type Community, Profitt Community*, Ding Dong Community (in Bell County), Eulogy Community*, Welfare Community, Old Bowling Community

Structure, Sweet Home*, Fosters Store*, Guys Store*, Carls Corner*, Pearsons* Chapel

Words of comfort
Comfort, Point Comfort, Sweet Home, Blanket, Cool, Sublime, Happy, Smiley*, Sunny Side Community, Eulogy Community

Cost, Dinero, Cheapside, Nickel, Dime Box, Jerry's Quarters*, Lohn*

Gaps and related
Cranfills Gap, Indian Gap, Buffalo Gap, Notrees, Nada

Names and celebrities
Bumstead, Kermit, Bigfoot*, Bebe, Panna Maria (Virgin Mary, not bread), Big Sandy, Jerry's Quarters

Shooter's paradise
Gun Barrel City, Cut and Shoot, Bangs*, Point Blank, Trophy Club

Body parts or features
Cheek, Wink, Smiley, Shiner, Bald Hill, Bangs, Whispering Wings, Bigfoot

Hyphenations and apostrophications
Jot-Em-Down, Lake Run-A-Muck, Hide-A-Way Lake, Lake O' The Pines, Hell's Half Acre, Jerry's Quarters

Apostrophe deficiency
Fosters Store, Guys Store, Carls Corner, Pearsons Chapel

Wordplay (mostly homophonic)
Lohn, Hoop and Holler, Priddy, Inadale, Arp, Tye, Blewett, Pyote, Rhome, Profitt Community, Krum, Dew

Other special names
Loves Lookout, Barwise, Pelican Spit Military Airport (Reservation), Tool

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