Goin’ to a Town Where Nobody Knows Me

From the 2014 edition of my book series, Frontage Road U.S.A.: Adventures Just Off the Superhighway, I am pleased to present the chapter entitled “Oddest-Named Cities in America”. Special thanks to Jug-o’-Shine Publishing for permission to excerpt this material.

Nipples, FL. Originally planned as a cultural and intellectual haven in the theme-parks-and-outlet-malls wasteland of central Florida and meant to be called Naples, this planned community was doomed from the start after a misunderstanding involving the county record-keeper, whose poor spelling was legendary, and the city planner, a Swiss immigrant with a pronounced Teutonic accent. Far from becoming a mecca of learning and art, it in fact attracted record numbers of pornography stores and gentlemen’s clubs. And, although there are an above-average number of museums, they commemorate not local folklore or ethnic pride but such subjects as “The History of the Tit”.

To Be Determined, MT. A note scrawled on the town charter by Mitchell Ormand, the thoughtful founder of this former mining camp, illustrated his determination not to make a hasty decision with something as important as the name of the growing settlement that would bear his legacy into the future. Unfortunately, he was hit by a train only three days later, and his son and heir proved to be rather literal-minded. “We always meant to get around to changing the name of the place to Ormand or Mitchelltown or something,” says five-term mayor Frances Keller, “but after all of this time, it sort of seems pointless.” Visitors are encouraged to visit the To Be Announced Festival, time and date pending.

Ass Munch Loser Town, MI. Struck by hard times in the 1980s, when the auto industry that supported it began sending jobs out of the country, the city of Springdon held a widely publicized contest in1986 in which entrants would pay a substantial fee in the form of a special tax to enter a raffle. The winner would be granted the right to rename the town, and the municipal coffers would receive a much-needed infusion of cash. However, the public relations firm which engineered the raffle neglected to include a number of critical limitations and restrictions in the entry rules, and Carl Burroughs, the then 14-year-old son of a wealthy oil industry executive, won the right to saddle Springdon with its regrettable current name. Town elders hoped that after the young man matured, he might reconsider his decision, but much to their chagrin, Burroughs, now 41 and a wealthy oil industry executive himself, refuses to allow any name change. “I think it’s fuckin’ hilarious,” he says. “After all, you have to admit, that town is full of ass munch losers.”

Almost Hitler, NC. A small town in the north-central part of the state largely occupied by small farmers and tobacco growers, Almost Hitler (formerly Scovil) is the home of the Brande family, real estate magnates and the wealthiest citizens in the area. In the 1957, patriarch Kendall Brande, then the mayor of Scovil and a notorious gambler, lost ready cash to the tune of over $350,000 in a poker game to his rival, Henry Joiner, the mayor of nearby Coverdell. Desperate to recoup his losses, Brande offered Joiner a unique bet: if Brande won the next hand, he would get back all the cash he’d dropped that night. If he lost, Joiner would win the right to alter the town charter and give it the worst name he could think of. Fortunately, Brande won the round. Unfortunately, he stumbled home the next morning, still drunk after his late night of gambling, and imperfectly attempted to communicate to the city registrar that the name of the town was almost Hitler.

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