Saturday, April 24, 2010

Streets of the Modern Wild West

In my neighborhood there is a residential street named Filament. When we were first house-hunting here I thought how humiliating, to have to have one's address be on "Filament Street." That is not bad at all, I have now discovered.

How would you like to live on Deny Court? I'm not sure if I'd prefer to live there rather than on, say, Pretentious Way. I'd like it better if it were Denial Ct--that is something I can get my mind around, and most people who live in houses have to be personally familiar with the attitude.

In any case, I'd consider it risky to look for a house to buy, in some of the areas of Greater Sacramento where these and other strange names for streets are found. I might fall in love with a house on Elude Ct., and if it were a bargain, I would feel a lot of pressure to sell my literary soul for it. Do good deals tend to come up more often on streets with names like Image, Essence, Adorn and Agree? Perhaps if the quality for which the street is name is positive, like Esteem Ct. or Acclaim Dr., the houses cost more, not less.

Are the houses on Pretentious Way really so? Or are the people who live in them? Perhaps the residents are only illiterate foreigners. Forgive me, but I really can't imagine. Many questions present themselves, such as, What sort of qualifications does one need to be a street-namer? I suspect that the naming agency nowadays pulls words out of the dictionary by means of a computer database.

As I think about it, many if not most street names that we are used to are concrete nouns, or common or proper names after plants and people, places or events. When you start having words for intangibles, or verbs and modifiers, it is bucking the sensible tradition and causes confusion in the mind every time you turn into your lane.

I didn't like it when streets in new developments were called "Mountain Ave" or such like, even though there was no elevation even in sight. But at least we know what a mountain is, and it is a simple concrete and neutral thing.

But to live on Proper or Refined or Benevolent: it does sound as though the street, or the houses-- or the people?--are being described. I don't like that. These are all the true names of real residential streets I am listing!

Streets with number or letter names should be considered more, if they are running out of ideas. The picture is of the road on which my childhood home was located, and it had a number for a name. But this is the age when a lot of people make up new names for their children, and perhaps that is the next thing to look for in street names. It will happen in California.

There are also streets named for general categories. The typical School Street or University Ave usually refer to a specific example that is nearby, but one doesn't usually run across Savant Drive any more than you would see a street named for houses, students, or cars. We might just as well have a street named Avenue, though I didn't see that one. I did see Component Way, which goes into the same pocket of my mind as Filament Ct.

This aspect of our culture is so vast and jumbled, I am getting more confused and bored as I ramble on. Let me just say that if have to move to Sacramento, the street I will look on is Clarity Court.

6 comments:

margaret said...

I don't like street names like 'Meadow View' when there isn't a meadow for ten miles or 'Orchard Lane' when it's the site of an old jail or something and we get a lot of that kind of thing here but the ones you've described are downright bizarre.

Pom Pom said...

I don't even know what our street name means, but past streets have had sturdy names like Salsbury and Country Club Drive. That was the golf course house I grew up in. Your post makes me think of some of the funny neighborhood names in the Northwest. When there was a huge building boom, they got VERY gutsy with names. Peach Tree Lane when there weren't peach trees.

wayside wanderer said...

I do not like a numbered street especially when they go in a row 4th, 5th, 6th. I don't remember numbers, they jumble in my head, so I have a hard time remembering them. I have lived where I do for almost 17 years and it is very close to a numbered street that only this year do I have down. :p I am not an ignorant person. Really. :)

I am reading a book called Never Before In History about the founding of the USA from a Christian perspective. One whole chapter is on nomenclature which was really fascinating. People who first came to this country were named after conquerors (Alfred, James and the like), but the first generation here were mostly named after Old Testament people. I thought that was interesting.

What do you think about the naming of people such things as Blessing, Mercy and even Desire. I wasn't so sure about Desire but I am sure that is my 21st Cent. mind set.

Anita said...

You know you're in the South when you live down the road from "Butter and Egg Road". We looked at a house on that street and I just couldn't wrap my head around that one. By the way, the old community was called "Lickskillet."

Gumbo Lily said...

We've only just got a proper street name for where we live. Before it was a HC 50 (hand carrier) and then a box number. But now with the new 911 service, we HAD to have a street name for our physical address and I'm rather happy with street name since it is our last name. Courtney Lane is now our street address. All of us who live on this "street" (gravel drive) have the last name of Courtney. All the other roads into the country drives out here carry the last names of their owners or previous owners. I like it. At least it makes sense.

I love the street names that Anita mentioned!

Jody

Michael said...

That photograph needs a tumbleweed.

Near where I used to live is a street called My Street. I always imagine hat residents must have a difficult time giving their address to others over the telephone.

A number of the sides streets at the bottom of my street, (that's the street where I live now and not the street called "My Street"), seem to be named after stone. Granite Street, Marble Street, and so forth. Where I grew up, however, is on the site of former farmland, and the streets have beautiful names, for flora and other plant life.