IN A PIG'S EYE!
By Eric Shackle
For 150 years, Cincinnati, Ohio has been called Porkopolis*, because of its pork-packing industry. But did you know that St. Paul, Minnesota, was once officially named Pig's Eye?
Professor and freelance editor Katherine Levin, who lives in St. Paul, disclosed this in an e-mail, after reading our recent stories about U.S. newspapers' odd names.
"I'm devastated that no one so far has mentioned the St. Paul Pioneer Press in St. Paul, Minnesota" she wrote.
"James Goodhue founded the Minnesota Pioneer before Minnesota was even a territory of the US, and early in the twentieth century it merged with the St. Paul Press and received its current name.
"At the time Goodhue founded the Pioneer, the largest settlement in the territory was called Pig's Eye, after a Frenchman called Pig's Eye Parrant, who sold booze in one of the caves under the Mississippi River bluffs.
"When Minnesota became a territory in 1849, Pig's Eye was in competition with the towns of St. Anthony (now Minneapolis) and St. Peter to become territorial capital. The town fathers felt that Pig's Eye was an insufficiently serious name for the capital, so they decided to rename the town.
"The only other landmark was St. Paul's Church, a 17- by 21-foot
Catholic church on the bluff over the river. When the new name was chosen,
Goodhue wrote a poem for the Pioneer that ended:
"Too bad the paper isn't the Pig's Eye Pioneer Press."
In a pig's eye is rhyming slang for lie, and usually means Nonsense! "As an expression of scorn the expresion was picked up in 1872 by Petroleum V. Nasby (David Locke) in one of his satirical newspaper columns 'poetical cotashuns' which wuz "Kum one, kim all, this rock shel fly From its firm base - in a pig's eye." (From The Dictionary of Cliches by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).
If you want to see what a pig's eye looks like, it's shown on the website of the Pig's Eye Pub in Hartford, Connecticut. Then there's a common Australian phrase referring to another part of porcine anatomy: "pig's arse it did!" which Strine, or an Aussie Lexicon translates as "a term of disparaging disagreement".
Several other correspondents have kindly added to our lists of newspapers' quirky names:
From Robert Love, Vice-President, The Tombstone
From Frank Gibson, Madden Library, California State University,
From Hank ("the Yank")
Ickes, Arlington, Virginia:
Copyright © 2002 Eric Shackle Story first posted January 2002