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COONBOTTOM AND COWBOYS

A story in our December edition was headlined Cobber, Like the Concord, is History. So when an email arrived from Concord, Florida, we guessed, before reading it, that someone there wanted to deny that Concord was extinct. Not so. It was from Linda Jamison, who was more interested in our recent story about odd U.S. place names. She wrote:

I come from one of those places with the crazy names---not a big city at all---a nickname for a teeny-tiny place that has a church, a convenience store, a blinker light, ample horse manure, armadas of armadillos--the state roadkill, you know--and throws a chicken pilau dinner every November that attracts in excess of 3000 people from at least three states.

The official name of my teeny-tiny town is Concord, a suburb of slightly larger Havana (kiddingly pronounced HAY-vana), Florida, but folks hereabouts call the area Coonbottom. People think I'm making it up when I tell them I'm from Coonbottom, but all the oldtimers, when I meet them, know exactly where I'm from, and they'll say, "Oh, you're so-and-so's neighbor."

I haven't the foggiest where Coonbottom begins and ends---I'm a Daytona Beach transplant. I guess only the oldtimers - or maybe the raccoons - know that, but there's no doubt that that's where I'm from. You can even buy a tee-shirt silkscreened with Coonbottom if you attend the annual chicken pilau dinner!

In the vicinity may also be found Sopchoppy, Two Egg, and Dogtown.

Pennsylvania, in addition to having Blue Ball, Climax, Intercourse, and Paradise, has Slippery Rock, home to the local college of the same name, also Camptown, where Stephen Foster lived, and of course, the genesis of his song, Camptown Races, aka Doo-Dah. My several-times-great grandmother was purportedly engaged to him, but something must have gone awry there.

Another reader, Page Wilson, sent us an interesting comment on the story about the origin of the word jackeroo. [Last month, we wrote: "We know a jackeroo is an apprentice stockman or cowboy (the female counterpart is jilleroo), and we guess that the word combines jack-of-all-trades with kangaroo. But we still don't know for sure."] Page wrote:

Perhaps jackaroo has something to do with buckaroo, a term used in the western part of the States that means cowboy. It seems we have borrowed this term from our southern neighbor, Mexico. In the Spanish language, vaquero means cowboy (from vaca, cow) and often, v's are pronounced as b's. When said quickly enough, vaquero becomes buckaroo. Since jackaroo means cowboy, it may have a connection to buckaroo. Maybe the word is a play on all three terms - buckaroo, kangaroo, and jack-of-all-trades.

Our thanks to both those readers for their interesting contributions.

 

Copyright 2004

Eric Shackle

Story first posted January 2004

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