The Town Crier

Some time ago the Town Crier surveyed the street names around town and the county. It was an overview and covered famous local people, hence Hamilton Street, nature-named streets like Walnut Avenue and even streets named for carpet companies like Polypac Way.

There are streets with presidential names, like Jackson Street, and there are roads like Highway 41 with nicknames like Old Dixie Highway. But this time around the Town Crier is more interested in neighborhoods or areas where the street names tie in with one another. We’re going to range a little wider in our survey but to places not too far away and where you may have actually been, so hop in your hot rod and let’s hit the road and keep an eye out for the street signs ... and the speed limit signs.

‘But honey, I named a street after you!’

I lived on the west side of town in a neighborhood called Dickson Acres. It was originally a farm, but was bought by Mr. Dickson and developed into a subdivision. When we moved there there weren’t that many houses. The empty lots were like fields and meadows to us kids that lived there.

Our street was a curvy, hilly road that was very scenic as it passed the ponds of the old farm. The name of the street was Ella Lane and after many years I discovered it was named for Mr. Dickson’s wife Ella. I thought that was pretty neat that if you owned the neighborhood you got to name the street. Now that I’m older I also appreciate that he named our street after his wife instead of himself. And just think, if he ever walked in the house and realized he had forgotten their anniversary, he could always fall back on “But honey, I named a street after you! The Post Office of the United States of America delivers mail to your name!”

Actually, me and my neighbors had a chance to name our street when they added shared driveways as separate street addresses for 911 purposes. I was thinking about pitching something to the neighbors to see if we could agree on something. I like movies so was thinking maybe Karloff Way or Groucho Court, but I read that names being focused on were to be historical or nature oriented. Near us we have a Blackberry Way and a Shakespeare Way.

What did we get? Malvin. In the romance languages mal means bad and vin is wine. I think I’ve pointed this out before but that basically makes our street Bad Wine or, in the American vernacular, Rot Gut Way.

To add insult to injury, they gave us the wrong number for our house and we didn’t discover it for a year. I ran into a city worker and asked how they got Malvin if all the new street names were to be historical or nature focused. It was then I learned the county had just paid for a list of random names with no real focus at all. Malvin indeed.

But let’s get back to the people who have developed whole neighborhoods and who had a vision of theming the street names. In a short paragraph in the previous street name article I did cover a couple of the places where the names do go together.

The city of Dalton has a golf course called Nob North and it’s surrounded by the Highland Forest neighborhood. You’d think with a name like Highland Forest the streets would bear names like Lady Macbeth Street or Kilt Drive or maybe Bagpipe Way. But of course, all eyes were on the golf course. The neighborhood has names like Birdie Lane, Eagle Drive, Dog Legg Drive, Driver’s Lane, Golf View Drive and Tee Top, all of which are golfing terms.

Of course, golf was invented in Scotland so maybe it does all fit together after all. By the way, if you’re in the neighborhood and look up to that tall hill crested with fine houses, it’s Tee Top. If you leave the neighborhood and look back at the rise it reverts to its old name, Gobbler’s Nob, a pretty American name, and with no golf connections.

Just southwest of Highland Forest there’s another neighborhood with street names all of a kind. In this case it’s horses that inspire the names. There are streets named Appaloosa, Palomino, Percheron, Belgian, Welsh and Stallion. If they had asked me to name streets after horses there are folks who would be living on streets with names like Silver Way (The Lone Ranger), Trigger Drive (Roy Rogers), Traveller Street (Robert E. Lee) and Bucephalus Lane (Alexander the Great), although Bucephalus sounds a little like a disease instead of a horse that helped conquer the world. And in one area in the county the names of the streets are those of rapture birds of prey. The names include Falcon, Osprey and Peregrine Way.

Heading to the south end of the county there’s a neighborhood I’ve liked the street names of since I was a kid and first came across them. Just east and a little north of Carbondale Road off the I-75 Exit there’s a neighborhood where the streets conjure up visions of Merry Olde England and that Prince of Thieves who stole from the rich and gave to the poor.

There are intersecting drives with the names of legendary characters and places: Sherwood and Nottingham Drive, and Little John Lane and Robin Hood Drive. Get your bow and your green felt hat and let’s take to the trail to give Prince John’s men the what-for!

Something automotive going on

Over in Murray County there’s a neighborhood that will really get your engine running, all the streets are named for cars. Heading south from Spring Place down 225 the first street you come to in this neighborhood might make you think there’s a British Empire thing going on because the street is Imperial Boulevard, but soon you come to Riviera Boulevard and so it dawns on clever car lover you something automotive is going on.

Turning into the neighborhood you can cruise Skylark, Torino, Monte Carlo and Catalina Drive. Granted, this neighborhood has outlasted some of these auto makes, but the nostalgia for driving down Chevelle Drive, followed by Bonneville, Charger and Corvette Drive, brings back memories of cars you may have had or ridden in. LaSabre Boulevard will take you back to the main road and into the present.

Or, if you like gardening as well as cars, go further into the neighborhood and surprise! surprise!, there’s a section of streets named after flowers. Roll down the windows and enjoy the breezes of Daisy Lane and it’s connectors like Daffodil Lane, Daylilly Lane and Poinsettia Lane.

A national craze

The car names seem to go back to the 1970s and ’80s but naming neighborhood streets fancifully goes back much further. Let’s take a trip up the road to Lookout Mountain and, while still barely in Georgia, let’s see what the founder of Rock City had in mind back in the 1920s and ’30s.

Garnet Carter came up with the idea of developing a neighborhood on Lookout Mountain. His wife Frieda was interested in European folklore so he decided to name the community Fairyland. The area was laid out and part of the attraction was to be a clubhouse and golf course.

The golf course was taking longer than expected so Garnet whimsically created a tiny golf course just for putting. Modern miniature golf was invented. Ever the promoter, Garnet franchised his mini-golf under the Tom Thumb moniker and it became a national craze in the 1920s, landing Garnet a fortune. During the Depression miniature golf took a dive and Garnet’s next adventure was to expand his wife’s trails filled with floral landscaping into a tourist attraction called Rock City.

But let’s get back to the Fairyland neighborhood and the streets you can live on. Among the streets there’s Robin Hood Trail and Aladdin Road. There are known character names like Cinderella Lane and Red Riding Hood Trail and Mother Goose Trail. There are also general fairy tale character names like Elfin Trail, Wood Nymph Trail, Princess Trail, Fairy Trail and Gnome Trail. From the English tradition you’ve got Peter Pan Road, Tinkerbell Lane and Wendy Trail, and there’s even a character from Germanic folklore that may be as real as Robin Hood, the Pied Piper, who gets his own trail.

I like the idea of areas that have names that go together, it shows someone was looking at the big picture and trying to bring a little something extra into people’s lives. Whether you’re a muscle car lover who lives on Charger Road, a golf enthusiast whose address is Dog Legg or maybe a kid growing up with birthday cards addressed to Peter Pan Road, it adds a little something to everyday living. Meanwhile, I’ll be on Malvin scheming of a way to get a name change here. How about King Kong Avenue?

Mark Hannah, a Dalton native, works in video and film production.

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