February 28th, 2008
When I sent the Animal Hat Gang to Alaska [see CAT TOWN 24 and 25 - Ed.] I decided to send them to the humble town of Bacon, mostly because A. I like bacon and B. it's a non sequitur which hasn't fully turned old and stupid yet and C. whoever heard of a town called Bacon, anyway?
Earlier today I was busy playing with Google Maps and took a look at one of my childhood hometowns, Shutesbury, Massachusetts. I may have mentioned before that my beloved Shutesbury has an interesting past, having been case study for Eugenics in 1928 and the inspiration for a 1934 book entitled The Case for Sterilization. When I was a teenager and stuck on the mountaintop with not much to do I did indeed curse the town (I wrote a Duck Tales parody song about Shutesbury which included the lines "Might see some sheep / Or go to sleep") but I do not believe it deserved that.
However, Google Maps revealed something else interesting and curious about the ol' homestead. For there's a note on Google Maps what hovers over Leverett Road, right near the intersection of my road, West Pelham Road (and close to the elementary school).
The austere note marks that section of town as Baconville.
Baconville! Could it be? Had I really grown up in Baconville, of all places? If so, that'd explain a lot.
However, Google has not been able to help much beyond the initial instigation. Most of the web results are canned pages that rely on the US Geological Survey Places database (and, indeed, Google Maps does the very same thing) so that there are a lot of places offering to show me eligible singles in Baconville (oh so hot and crispy!) or deals on cars in Baconville or what have you. The only clue I was able to find is a canned page listing Baconville as having first been seen on the USGSP survey in 1978.
Some towns in Western Mass. towns often still refer to villages or neighborhoods which either no longer exist or were never incorporated in the first place and have no ZIP code of their own, but their names still persist and are known locally. North Amherst has Cushman Village, for instance. Shutesbury seems to have quite a few, according to Google Maps, and if I remember correctly, there was at least one Bacon family in town and a quick search reveals others in the 19th Century and the turn of the 20th. It's most likely that the Bacons lived at the intersection of Leverett Road and West Pelham, but one has to wonder sometimes if it was all just a good ol' fashioned joke on someone's part. I'm hoping it's the latter and Baconville was a sort of proto-Ripton, but on the other hand, even the more mundane answer gives me a full sense of glee for, no matter what, I can proudly claim I grew up in Baconville and that's quite all right by me.
Right next to Pratz Corner!
The funny thing was that I knew of Pratt's Corner (the Pratts were still a Big Family Name in town) but heck if I knew Baconville.
And the other good thing about having grown up in a town called Baconville is that it's a dactyl, so you can write a song about dreaming of Baconville to the tune of 'Galveston'.
|Date:||February 29th, 2008 12:12 am (UTC)|| |
I remember being perennially amused that some of my friends lived in Wapping.
|Date:||February 29th, 2008 12:39 am (UTC)|| |
It's always strange when I have to explain to people that Turners Falls was a village in the town of Montague. I don't quite get it myself, really, but there it is.
When I was teaching in the netherregions of the state, I never knew for sure where my students lived, because they were all in random places that weren't on maps but were just known to locals. It wasn't really a big deal until I started bribing them with a trip to Friendly's when they'd learn their times tables and then find out that it was a 20 minute drive to their house along forest roads up in the hills with no street lights.
Maybe Baconville is the sister-village of Newstead Montegrade. Ya think?
I would totally believe that and, were it not true, tell people it was anyway.
There were several Bacon families who lived near the intersection at Baker Road and West Pelham Road back in the 1870s. In fact, John Harrison Bacon lived in his house there until he died in 1920. My Great-Great Grandfather, Calvin Carter, was murdered at Bacon's home in May 1871 by Lyman White. Lyman White about 300 feet away from Bacon's house. So this obscure geographic area has quite a connection for me from a family & historical perspective.