I enjoy corresponding with Steve from Connecticut Museum Quest. We seem to have a similar appreciation for maps, odd coincidences and strangely-named places. I first came across Steve and his wonderfully-written CTMQ as I investigated the Southwick Jog more than three years ago. I think Mystic Seaport may be the only Connecticut museum I’ve ever visited in my entire life, and yet I read every article he posts. It’s that good.
Anyway, enough of that. Let’s bring things back into the present and discuss Steve’s latest discovery. He couldn’t wait to tell me — and of course I couldn’t wait to hear — all about:
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He found carnage in Raleigh, North Carolina. Well, Fred J. Carnage Middle School on Carnage Drive. I realize mentioning carnage and school within a single statement can be a bit of a touchy topic in the post-Columbine era. I mean no disrespect and I hope this article doesn’t land me on a travel restriction list (guess I’ll find out the next time I try to board an airline). The larger point is that seeing carnage in this context feels vaguely disconcerting.
We are all led by our personality quirks. My natural and completely predictable next step was to try to unmask the identity of Fred J. Carnage. This led me to an article in the Raleigh Times
Mr. Carnage had just been appointed to the local school board. He had an impressive résumé: a graduate of Harvard Law School; a distinguished career as an attorney; a high-level member of prestigious civic organizations; and an appointee of various government boards and commissions. Oh, did I mention that this was 1949? And that Mr. Carnage was African-American? And that only a third of Raleigh students at the time were African-American?
The recipient of this appointment is a tall-gray-haired practitioner of the law in Raleigh for 17 years whose position in the city is such that in the weeks following the appointment, Mayor P. D. Snipes observed that not a single note of criticism was received by him of residents of this southern community about the selection of a representative of a minority group for this responsible position.
A couple of things came to mind as I pondered the context of that specific geography and that troublesome slice of history. First, Fred J. Carnage must have been an amazing man to accomplish what he did when so many opportunities would have been denied to him by definition. He recorded a lifetime of "firsts" as an African American. Second, we tend to think of prejudice in the American South of that time as being somewhat monolithic, yet here was an instance when perhaps a more nuanced view might be warranted.
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The thought of carnage led me to reminisce about my undergraduate days long ago at the University of Virginia where we had the Slaughter Recreation Center. In the Commonwealth one might think of "slaughter recreation" as a euphemism pertaining to our penchant for hunting and our relaxed view of firearms restrictions. However, let me assure the 12MC audience that the recreational facility fit a more typical model of indoor basketball, squash courts, exercise equipment and the like. It was named for "Edward R. ‘Butch’ Slaughter, a Charlottesville resident who was Director of Intramurals at the University of Virginia from 1958 until his retirement in 1973."
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I don’t know about any actual mayhem but I thought it sounded good in the title. Google Maps was kind enough to suggest Mayhem Avenue in Rustenburg, South Africa, just west of Pretoria. Street View suggests it’s probably the antithesis of mayhem. It seems to be a tidy, orderly, affluent street.
I discovered a few other likely candidates as well.
- Massacre Lane and Massacre Pond, in Scarborough, Maine (map). There are lots of "massacre" places in the United States, many of them associated with attacks on settlers by displaced Native Americans forced from their land.
- Berserker, Queensland, Australia (map). An entire neighborhood gone berserk!
- Murder Lane, Rison, Arkansas (map). This one looks like someone’s driveway. I am going to guess that they don’t want or receive many visitors.
- Blood Cemetery, Dunstable, Massachusetts (map). A perfect spot for a Halloween party.
- Headless Cross Drive, Redditch, Worcestershire, England (map). Well, it’s headless.
Maybe the astute 12MC audience can add to the list?