Monday, July 10, 2017

The towns and the county

It happened the other night when my teen bride and I were on the way home from my terrific birthday dinner at Friendly Farm. We stopped at Walmart to look for t-shirts (my main fashion component in summer, until they're replaced by long-sleeve t-shirts in winter.)

As it happened, the Walmart (known in Baltimore as "Walmarts," as Giant Food is called "Giants" and Sears is "Searses") we visited is in Cockeysville. I checked in on Facebook, and sure enough, an out-of-town friend asked me, "Is there really a town in Maryland called 'Cockeysville'?"Image result for map of baltimore county md

Yes, Todo, there is a Cockeysville, founded by the Cockey family a long time ago, and there are still plenty of them around here. In the 60s, someone from, I guess, the Chamber of Commerce came up with the idea to call that part of Baltimore County "Hunt Valley," because a) it's not far from where people go fox hunting and b) it's sort of a valley. I guess someone from Walnut Knob, Maine, thought "Cockeysville" was a funny name.

I also guess that people find "Cowpens Avenue" a funny name for a road, although in my dim memory, I remember when there were cow pens on that road. Hence, the name. And where Cowpens Avenue meets Cromwell Bridge Road (named for an old railroad crossing), they tore down many acres of apple trees and built Loch Raven High School, named for the reservoir nearby that was created by tearing down the town of Warren and flooding it with the Gunpowder River it so that we'd have drinking water.  And yes, Warren, a town in the memory of no one still alive, was named for the Warren family, which settled it.

I'm sure that there were marriages between Warrens and Cockeys, but there is no evidence that there were feuds between the clans.

Baltimore County also has a town called Phoenix, one Texas, a Jacksonville, and of course the world-famous Boring, Maryland. An annual highlight for anyone approaching that town on Rte 30 is the sign advertising the "Boring Firemen's Carnival," which is a big fundraiser for their volunteer fire company, and not the ennui settling in over people wearing red suspenders, and helmets, but with nothing to do.

There's Hyde Park, not the one where Franklin Roosevelt had a place, and Nottingham without a sheriff, and Hebbville, which is often Sunny but not named for Bobby.

There are no incorporated towns in our county, so we don't get to enjoy the antics of someone who is the mayor of a burg with a population of 314 souls making proclamations proclaiming an official language or anything. But years ago, due to some unfortunate choices, a friend of mine wound up living in Houston, Texas, and he was flabbergasted to ask a co-worker what part of town he lived in, only to get "Exit 13" as a reply.

Here, we identify by our local town names and are glad to tell you their provenance and their exact limits. For instance, I'm from Providence, which begins at Providence Rd and Cowpens Avenue, and ends where the road runs into Loch Raven Drive, which snakes around the reservoir I told you about.

Going up York road toward Pennsylvania, there is an exact place at which Lutherville ends and Timonium begins, and then further up you come to Cockeysville, Sparks, Hereford, and then Maryland Line.

The east side borders on waters and rivers off the Chesapeake Bay. The two principal towns over there are Essex and Dundalk, and there are Essexites who will not travel to Dundalk for any purpose, and vice versa.

The west side borders other counties (Carroll and Howard) and the west side is where Woodlawn is, and that's where Social Security Headquarters is located, meaning thousands of jobs for thousands of people who are at this very minute making sure your retirement will be plentiful, so you can come here and take your choice of where you want to live.

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