It may be reasonable to assume that most people have at least a passing familiarity with Abbott and Costello’s signature Who’s-on-First comedy routine, developed in the late 1930′s. I referenced a possible Who’s-on-First scenario recently in No Way! Way! thinking that most readers would understand the reference. It came from an era long before I was born — hey, I’m not that old! Nonetheless, it’s a timeless classic whether one has never heard of it before or is listening to it all again for the hundredth time.
N Abbott St & W Costello St, Washington, Kansas
That made me wonder, made me hope anyway, could there possibly be an intersection of Abbott and Costello streets? Someone would be able to say, "I live at the corner of Abbott and Costello," and of course everyone would get a little chuckle out of it. Sure enough, I found an occurrence (map) in Washington, Kansas.
What about other comedy duos from the classic age of Hollywood when color films were still a novelty, when married couples couldn’t be shown in the same bed and nobody ever dreamed of dropping the F-Bomb in a movie? There were plenty of successful duos or "double acts" that followed the familiar straight-man / funny-man precept. One person took a somewhat normal persona and the other acted like a fool. The straight-man served as a foil to the funny-man’s antics which heighten comedic tension and make it even funnier. It’s a somewhat faded formula although elements of it still exist (e.g., Chumlee as funny-man to Rick and other cast members as straight-men on Pawn Stars).
I knew my search for street intersections would be daunting. The odds of matching comedy duos randomly had to be low considering the endless variety of street names available. Sure, I’d find an odd housing development with a Hollywood theme with forced associations here-and-there, so I considered they would not count as much as places where matches happened naturally.
Laurel and Hardy
Laurel St & Hardy St, Macomb, Michigan
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy might have been the most memorable of all the double acts, and one of the few teams to transition easily from silent movies to the talkies. Their successful pairing lasted for more than a hundred films and their short movie "The Music Box" won an Academy Award in 1932. That’s the film where they spent the entire time pushing a piano up a flight of long stairs.
There had to be a Laurel and a Hardy street intersecting somewhere. Both sounded like feasible street names individually so I hoped for a coincidental paring, and finally located Laurel St. & Hardy St. in Macomb, Michigan (Street View)
Hope and Crosby
SOURCE: Screen grab from Google Street View image, Garden Grove, California, March 2011
Bob Hope and Bing Crosby paired-up repeatedly for the "Road to…" series, beginning with Road to Singapore in 1940 and lasting through Road to Hong Kong in 1962.
I found great success with the intersection of Hope and Crosby. Hope seemed to be an extremely common street name. That greatly increasing the odds of a random Crosby crossing. I found several.
- Hope St & Crosby Ave, Altamont, Oregon (maps)
- Hope St & Crosby Ave, Garden Grove, California (map)
- Hope Ln & Crosby Ln, Redding, California (map)
- Hope Cir & Crosby Dr, Fort Washington, Pennsylvania (map)
- Hope Way and Crosby Dr, Knoxville, Tennessee (map)
The instance from Knoxville came from one of those Hollywood-themed subdivisions I mentioned. I granted it partial credit anyway because Lamour Street ran parallel to Crosby Drive and interested with Hope Way, reuniting Dorothy Lamour’s supporting role to Hope and Crosby for a final road trip. It seemed fitting that the trio from the Road pictures would be intertwined by roads, even if created artificially.
Burns and Allen
Burns St & Allen St., New Bedford, Massachusetts
George Burns and his wife Gracie Allen intersected in New Bedford, Massachusetts (map). They also served as namesakes for a major intersection on the campus of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. In the latter case, their names were applied to streets explicitly. The intersection’s full name was N George Burns Road and Gracie Allen Drive. Burns and Allen were major benefactors of the hospital according to The Hollywood Reporter. Cedars-Sinai additionally includes a Burns and Allen Research Institute.
And the Rest
I tried to find other classic comedy duos without much luck. That’s fine. I got the big names. My only true disappointment was failing to discover an intersection for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The best I could do was Marty Ln and S Lewis St, in Garden Grove, California (map).
I broadened the scope to include more recent decades. There wasn’t a Cheech and Chong, and in fact, not even a single Cheech. We might also have to wait another generation or two for a Harold and Kumar too.
"Ross" sent me an email about the “Saatse Boot” (map), a place where travelers can legally enter Russia from the Schengen Area without a passport check and without going through any border controls at all. Estonian Route 178 includes a brief segment that clips Russian territory between two Estonian villages, Lutepää and Sesniki, providing direct access between them. There’s a catch: one can travel through the boot in a motorized vehicle only — no pedestrians — and drivers cannot stop. Still, this might be an easy way to "visit" Russia without any paperwork.
Ross mentioned that the source topic came up in Reddit’s MapPorn subreddit and he forwarded a link. I’m not going to post it because I’m still angry with MapPorn for stealing peoples’ work (although let me emphasize – I have no issue with Reddit in general, just its MapPorn subreddit). I’ll leave it at that. All credit to Ross and none to MapPorn.
Thanks Ross! I love little geo-oddities like that.
I noticed high-quality reader input on the recent He Went Thata Way article. I never imagined that there were so many creative Ways to approach the situation and it proved to me that I might be able to mine additional road name gold. I’d have said "No Way" while the 12MC audience responded "Way" and all that irrelevant quote from Wayne’s World accomplished was to make me feel old when I noticed that the movie was released in 1992, and of course based on a recurring theme from Saturday Night Live even earlier. Great. That was a fine way to start the week.(¹) Confronting my own mortality.
Let’s recap a few comments since I realize most viewers don’t go back once they’ve read the original article. It also gave me an opportunity to credit a few people for their excellent discoveries.
- Greg flagged Anchorsa Way in Saint Inigoes, MD (a waterfront community near a U.S. naval facility, not surprisingly)
- Jbapo mentioned a garbage disposal company located on Throwita Way in Placerville, CA
- Glenn noticed an abundance of Milky Way. I hoped to find one inspired by the candy bar. Alas, they all seemed to observe astronomical themes.
That got me thinking about the possible existence of No Way. Wouldn’t that be cool? Sadly I couldn’t find one. I did uncover North Way in Oceanside, California. One could abbreviate that as No. Way with a little twisted logic. Does that count? How about Know Place in New Bloomfield, Missouri?
Know Place, in Particular
"Where do you live? Know Place." I could see that creating a wonderful Who’s-on-First scenario without too much effort.
Then I decided to use Scrabble Finder to review every word ending in Way or Away. I don’t play much Scrabble and I spend Sunday morning writing Twelve Mile Circle instead of solving the New York Times’ crossword puzzle so I don’t normally have much use for this kind of tool. It felt a bit like cheating although it worked effectively enough for my purposes.
That allowed me to uncover numerous additional gems. I’ll highlight only a few:
- LOTS of examples, too many to mention, for Drive Way, Express Way, High Way, Free Way, and Road Way. I did discover that the faster the implied speed of the name, the more rural and remote the location of the street in question (e.g., does this road look like a freeway?) It also amused me that Maps abbreviated Road Way as Rd Way.
- Cara Way — as in the caraway seed used as a food seasoning — made frequent appearances. I don’t think residents consciously intended to be clever or funny. Cara has become a somewhat common given name for women (albeit waning in the last decade) and I’ve noticed that housing developers seem to have a penchant for naming streets after family members when they run out of other ideas.
- Any Way? Everywhere.
- I found Stowa Way in Daly City, CA; Cottonwood, CA; and Garden Valley, ID.
- And Sea Way in Bodega Bay, CA; San Rafael, CA; and Harwich, MA.
Nor Way isn’t Norway
My favorite instance, however, did not appear on the list. That was Nor Way. I couldn’t tell if its usage implied Norwegian heritage or whether residents simply considered it amusing. Either way(²), I found Nor Way locations in Ithaca, NY; Barnstable, MA; and Harwich, MA.
Are we done with WAY or will the great 12MC audience continue to find even better examples?
I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight additional recent input not directly related to today’s topic, although noteworthy as standalone curiosities.
- Longtime reader Peter mentioned what he considered the "best street name anywhere." I concur for obvious reasons.
- Finally, Doug sent an email to Twelve Mile Circle. It wasn’t about a street, rather a town. Take a look at the peculiar boundaries of Round Mountain, Texas including its spindly legs and a divot at its primary intersection.
I enjoy these little discoveries so kindly keep them coming!
(¹) Please forgive me if I sound a little surly. I’m still trying to ease back into normal 12MC production after my recent holiday. I appreciate everyone bearing with me as I posted a long series of travel articles. I know from reader statistics that those are not audience favorites, however I enjoy them so that’s what you got. I did try to sprinkle in a few genuine anomalies like the KYTNVA Tripoint and the Time Zone thingy in between Turtleman and the Interstate rest stop. The usual geo-oddities will now take center stage going forward until the next vacation.
(²) Either Way is in Boulder Creek, California, by the way.(³)
(³) Bytha Way is in Shelby, North Carolina.
I’ve slowly been overhauling the non-12MC part of my website — the portion for which the howderfamily.com domain was obtained long before Twelve Mile Circle became the tail wagging the dog — to upgrade to Google Maps API v3. It’s been a slow and tedious process. Recently I revisited a genealogy page I wrote about ten years ago and created a map where one hadn’t existed previously.
It reminded me that I’ve had it pretty easy when we visit the in-laws in Wisconsin, with an elapsed airtime of about an hour between airports. My ancestors undertook a journey of similar distance when they moved from Maine to Wisconsin in 1844. They seemed pretty satisfied that it took "just one month."
The family patriarch described the entire journey in a letter that he sent back to his brother in Maine. I received a copy of the letter in 2002 and wrote about it in a genealogical society journal. The resulting article is reproduced elsewhere on my site. It includes a lot of family history content so feel free to skip it. Instead I’ll focus on what will more likely interest the 12MC audience, the geography and logistics of a North American journey in the 1840′s.
View Sylvester Journey – 1844 in a larger map
I took a much closer look at the letter this time around so I could design a reasonable replica of the route. The letter contained several place names, a few actual dates, and a verifiable historic event, all of which allowed me to reconstruct a full sequence of steps including days of the week. I could determine with near certainty that the journey began on Saturday, October 5, 1844 in Phillips, Maine and concluded a month later on Tuesday, November 5 in Jamestown, Wisconsin.
Markers on the map include supporting text from the letter. Colored lines represent changes in transportation modes.
Phase I – Cart and Foot: October 5-7
The journey began by hauling family and freight down to a port. The group stopped to visit with some relatives along the way so it took three days to get to the nearest river town with ocean access. The port was just outside of Augusta, the capital city of Maine on the Kennebec River.
Phase II – Ship: October 7-8
They sailed down the Kennebec River into the Gulf of Maine, hugged the coastline and entered Massachusetts Bay. They disembarked at Boston, Massachusetts.
Phase III – Railroad: October 8-10
The Boston and Albany Railroad
SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons released to the Public Domain
The Boston and Albany Railroad received its charter in 1831 and laid track westward in phases. One could travel the entire route between the two cities by rail beginning in 1841. The family took early advantage of this transportation leap to shorten its movement across Massachusetts.
The letter never mentioned a railroad although no other feasible method could have covered the same distance in a similar amount of time. It referenced a three hour segment between Boston and Worcester for example, a distance of 46 miles. A stagecoach would have averaged 5 miles per hour. A typical speed for a train in the early 1840′s would have been about 10 to 20 miles per hour.
A rail line existed, the speed of motion matched historical averages for trains of that period, and towns mentioned in the letter (where the family stopped) mirrored the Boston and Albany Railroad route.
Phase IV – Canal Boat: October 11-18
SOURCE: Flickr by USACE Buffalo via Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) license
Erie Canal Boat Replica
Nothing moved faster overland than a railroad but routes were still a novelty in the early 1840′s. Rail hadn’t become a ubiquitous form of transportation like it would a couple of decades later so the family had to find another option. Waterways were still the superhighways of the era, and New York had a great one: the 363 mile (584 km) Erie Canal which opened in 1825.
It took the group a full week to cross New York. That duration was consistent with Erie Canal averages, where boats traveled at about 4 miles per hour (6.5 kph), with rest stops and additional time to traverse dozens of locks that often became choke points.
In one of life’s odd coincidences, my mother’s side of the family (in a canal boat) and my father’s side of the family (farmers living near Lockport) came within amazingly close proximity of each other on or around the evening of Thursday, October 17, 1844 — literally a "ship that passed in the night." The families wouldn’t get another chance for more than a hundred years and in a completely different location.
The canal boat docked in Buffalo, New York on the shores of Lake Erie.
Phase V – Great Lakes Steamship: October 21-26
The Great Lakes Steamship Great Western – 1838
Once again it was logical that the family would take advantage of a waterway. The first commercial steamboat services began in the first decades of the 19th Century and were quite common by the 1840′s. The Great Lakes were filled with them.
Here the family narrowly averted a calamity. They had the misfortune to arrive in Buffalo on the afternoon of Friday, October 18. Four steamships were ready to set sail that evening but they were already crowded with passengers. The family wasn’t in a hurry so they decided to wait until the next morning. A huge storm with hurricane-force winds hit that night and lasted into the following day, a storm so severe that it is still recorded in history as the Lower Great Lakes Storm of 1844.
As described in the History of the Great Lakes, Chapter 36:
For several days before the occurrence of the flood a strong north-east wind had been driving the water up the lake, but on the evening of the 18th a sudden shift of the wind took place, and it blew from the opposite direction with a tremendous force, never before or since known to the inhabitants of Buffalo. It brought with it immense volumes of water, which overflowed the lower districts of the city and vicinity, demolishing scores of buildings, and spreading ruin along the harbor front, playing havoc with shipping, and causing an awful destruction of human life.
The family escaped unscathed and was able to resume its journey the following Monday on the steamship Great Western. It took less than a week to arrive in Chicago.
Phase VI – Cart and Foot: October 30-November 5
The family decided to rent a hotel room and rest in Chicago for four days. Then they purchased "a wagon and a span of horses" and continued onward for the final leg of the journey. It took 6 days to cover approximately 180 miles (290 km) to their new home, so about 30 miles (48 km) per day which was described as "the most fatiguing and expensive of our journey."
The family arrived in Jamestown, Wisconsin, their final destination, pretty much exactly a month after they left Phillips, Maine.
I’ll keep that in mind the next time I fly up to Wisconsin and complain about an airport weather delay.