I assume that Mordechai Schiller is aware of the many, many weird place names in America (Hell, Truth or Consequences, Surprise, Slapout, etc.) that one can find with a simple internet search. They do not, however, have wonderfully ironic stories like Neversink (“Glub, N.Y.” Hamodia Prime, Dec. 11).
My immigrant great-grandfather and -grandmother had a farm in Connecticut that became part of a reservoir. They decided to vacate first. There is a legend — most likely told in more than one locale, but I think I read it in a Pennsylvania context — of a farmer who absolutely refused to vacate his farm before they flooded it. The legend says that on some nights one can see a flickering light down in the water. That’s the farmer going to the barn to check on his cows.
My wife and I used to camp every summer by the former site of West Thompson, Connecticut, which was taken by the Army Corps of Engineers in ’55 and flooded for a flood-control reservoir. Somehow, the legendary local historian Alice Ramsdell managed to hold out and refused to sell her farm to the Corps, continuing to live on that property till she departed for a better home in 1995.
As for New York City’s chauvinistic boasting of the city’s clean, delicious water: bobe mayses. I stopped drinking NYC tap water years ago when I noticed that the room began to smell like a swimming pool when the taps were running. They achieve “clean” status for the water by loading it with chlorine and other delights. No thanks! I was shocked to find out how much of upstate New York is actually under the thumb of the City due to watershed rights. Downright creepy if you ask me (which, of course, no one has).
Fishel Bresler, EMT (Emergency Musical Technician),
Providence, Rhode Island
Mordechai Schiller replies:
Thank you both. There’s a time and place for everything.
My inner hermit keeps wanting to move to
Seldom Come By, Newfoundland. But I still long for an old found land. My favorite place is still Yerushalayim (aka Jerusalem) — Yireh-Shalem “the city of peace.” Talk about irony.
As Rabbi Mendel Weinbach, zt”l, wrote:
“What’s in a name? Plenty! ‘Yireh’ refers to the Divine choice of His abode — ‘He will see and will choose this site.’ ‘Shalem’ alludes to human striving for ‘shalom’ — peace and ‘shalem’ — perfection. By placing ‘yireh’ before ‘shalem’ … the name given to the Holy City communicated the timeless message that all of human striving for the noble goals of peace and perfection are exercises in futility if man fails to recognize the need for following the Divine directives for making these dreams come true.”
The word “shalem” also means to “pay.” And the ultimate payback will be in Yireh-Shalem — when we all see true peace.