Thursday, June 23, 2011

Aptly named, tragically confirmed

I receive daily posts from Alaska (don't ask me why), where life holds perils that most of us never face. In our namby-pamby tri-state areas, skiers are rarely engulfed in avalanches or joggers eaten by wolves.

In Alaska nature looms. Names have a blunt, descriptive power. How about this river where two boaters tragically drowned:
Call me lily-livered. But getting me to venture onto a body of water called Dangerous River would require considerable urging from a Colt .45.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Indiana branding

Some brands are born, some are made, and some are thrust upon us.

Driving across Indiana on Route 46 you see poignant evidence of commercial strategies.

The barn’s faded sign reads “Mail Pouch Tobacco” – once a household name in rural America. For putting the brand on a barn, a farmer got a few bucks and his barn got a fresh coat of paint.

I follow Indiana 46 across Brown County – passing names of entrepreneurs’ dreams – like Red Bud Storage and Mike’s Dance Barn and Rustic Cove Apts. For drivers seeking refuge, there is Sweetheart Cabin and Salt Creek Inn.

I cross through the village of Gnaw Bone – doubtless a brand story there! – and pass Howlin’ Dog Inn not far from Pleasant Valley Church.

People will say anything to attract customers. They try a play on words, as with The Last Resort. They mix spirituality with show biz – as in Country Gospel Music Church. They show their neighborly lack of pretense – as in Scooter’s Family Restaurant.

When choosing a name and putting out a sign, people try to believe that others will care. They want to entice travelers – and take their money. What is a “yard sale” other than the intersection of one person’s hope for cash and another’s for cheap treasure?

I dodge a turtle crossing the road near the little bridge over Sand Creek. "Sand Creek"! – now there’s a name no one fussed over. No dreams packed into that name, no hope to strike it rich and move away. Sand Creek is just a narrow cut in the sandy soil… with a trickle of water that gave birth to a name.