What’s In A Name?


By:  Neal Wooten

It is sometimes said that naming a location in the simplest direct terms is often the most effective. A fancy restaurant that caters to the who’s who of Boston comes to mind. It was called The Café. Likewise, here in the South, we often follow that format.
The Hole in the Rock. This used to be one of my favorite places. As a kid I spray-painted my name there like so many other locals. The last time I drove by the old dirt road leading down to the cave, however, it was closed. Does anyone know if it still is? But it was basically a large hole in the side of the rock face of Sand Mountain, so it was aptly named.
Dead Man’s Curve. I grew up hearing horror stories about this patch of road on Hwy 11 out past the airport. A few months ago I was driving through there in the pouring rain and immediately realized those stories might be true. The water was pooling up right in the curve and my big truck with oversized tires suddenly hydroplaned. It scared the crap out of me.
Joe’s Truck Stop. For anyone reading my articles who are not from this area, let me explain. Years ago a fellow named Joe grew weary of 18-wheelers coming off Lookout Mountain on Hwy 35 and losing their brakes, something that was pretty common back then, and driving through his house. So he constructed a stone/concrete wall in front of his property about four feet high to stop them. It worked.
The Barn. Do you remember this nightclub in Scottsboro that opened way back when the town first went wet? I went there once and ran into a girl from high school. She asked me to sit at her table because someone kept throwing ice at her. I was obviously not a deterrent since it continued to happen with me there. Finally I changed seats with her and discovered the big air conditioning unit in the wall above the seat was dripping.
Even places that have longer, more descriptive names are usually shortened to a more common word or phrase that is used amongst locals. Before Scottsboro went wet, it was normal to hear someone say they were going to the line. They didn’t have to say the DeKalb County/Etowah County line. We knew where it meant and why they were going.
We know “the river” is the Tennessee, “the lake” is Weiss, “the beach” is Gulf Shores, “the mountain” is Gatlinburg, “the canyon” is Little River, and “the bakery” used to be Merico, then Earthgrains, then Sara Lee. Now I have to send this to “the paper.”