Monday, March 18, 2013

Forbidden Newspaper Column

In 2001, I began writing a column for a weekly newspaper in Fulton County, Arkansas. When I first started, I tried to do mostly humor items and won several awards for humor columns by the Arkansas Press Association.

But after about two dozen columns, the editor refused to publish the following column submission, which she deemed to be offensive to the citizens of Fulton County. I replaced it with another piece and life went on, never missing a weekly column until I walked away from doing them in the fall of 2007.

Since I am no longer employed by the newspaper, I present the forbidden item here. I seriously doubt if many will be offended by it -- if so, I suggest switching to decaf or perhaps some psychological therapy.


Arkansas has many towns with descriptive names such as Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Hot Springs, Eureka Springs, Mountain View, Mountain Home, Lake Village, Lake City, Pleasant Plains, Walnut Ridge, Black Rock and so on. The names are indicative of a prominent feature of the surrounding area.

Sharp County has its share of such places.

1) Ash Flat – A flat area containing lots of ashes
2) Cave City – A cave within an area populated by cave people
3) Evening Shade – A town with lots of shade trees blocking the late afternoon sun
4) Hidden Valley – A community in a hard-to-find valley
5) Cherokee Village – A village established along the Cherokee Nation Trail of Tears with simple street names like Tonganoxie, Pottawattamie, Monongahela and Choctawhatchee
6) Ozark Acres – Acreage in the Ozark Mountains, or close to the Ozark Mountains, depending on whether you’re a seller or a buyer

Izard County also has many towns with descriptive names.

1) Violet Hill – A hill with violets
2) Calico Rock – An area of rock formations that are calico in appearance, predominantly white with dark patches
3) Horseshoe Bend – A community along a river that makes a curve in the shape of a horseshoe where lots of retired horseshoe players reside
4) Mt Pleasant – A high knob giving off pleasant vibes
5) Pleasant Valley – A hole in the ground giving off pleasant vibes
6) Lone Star – A spot reserved for Arkansas’ lone movie star, Billy Bob Thornton, when he gets expelled from show business

With the exception of Mammoth Spring, Fulton County has no such descriptive names. Mammoth Spring is a community built alongside a large spring of water oozing out of the ground. At first, they were going to call it Big Ooze, but that was soon scrapped because the high school didn’t want their sport’s teams to be known as the Big Oozers and the Lady Big Oozers. Apparently, it had something to do with teen-age angst. After a few more suggestions, like Large Leak, Wondrous Waterspout, Giant Gusher, and Stupendous Seepage, they settled on Mammoth Spring.

Legend has it that Fulton County wanted to be descriptive with their other township names too, but didn’t want to spend much money on paint for their town signs. The citizens of Fulton County are very practical and frugal, otherwise known as cheap. So they held a secret meeting and potluck dinner on the banks of the South Fork River, where they decided to give each town an acronym that would best describe it -- short, yet descriptive, names.

An acronym is a word formed from the initial letter of each part of the compound term.

For example, USA in an acronym for the United States of America, FBI is an acronym for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and SOS is an acronym for Something On a Shingle.

Some of the Fulton County acronyms are:

SALEM – Site All Law Enforcers Meet
VIOLA – Very Interesting Odd Little Area
AGNOS – Another Good Neighborhood Outside of Salem
GEPP – Gently Elevated Peculiar Place
CAMP – Concentrated Area of Municipal Parking
MOKO – Mostly Old Knobby Oaks
HEART – Hilly Earth Area of Removed Trees
UNION – Unobstructed Neighbors Inhabit Outhouses Nightly
BYRON – Back Yonder Right Over Nearby

I live in Fulton County in the township of Fairview. It seems like the perfect place for someone like me.

FAIRVIEW – For Annoying Individuals Requiring Very Intense Evaluation Weekly

In fact, I’m so annoying I may actually be mayor by default.

Quote for the Day -- "Cities force growth, and make men talkative and entertaining, but they make them artificial." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Bret Burquest is the author of 9 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where political correctness is in the eye of the beholder.

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