Hamham? Isn't that Near Chatham, Ashburnham, and Wareham?
Yes, Virginia, there is a New Braintree. (Image via iStockphoto.)
If I told you I grew up in West Lameham or Shamesbury, you probably wouldn’t bat an eye. Michael Brodeur, an assistant arts editor at the Globe, riffs on our quirky municipality monikers in his list of fake Bay State towns, pubbed on McSweeney’s today:
Though I wasn’t born here, I think that the fact I read Unstable to myself as (/unst’-a-bull/) — without looking at the handy pronunciation key — means I’ve finally assimilated.
May I add Sadchester, where “30 Rock’s” Jack Donaghy hails from? Boston mag staffers also suggested: Poorchester on the Harbor, Dunkinhaven (it runs on … you get the idea), Eastborough (it’s only fair, considering that there’s a Westborough,a Southborough, and a Northborough), and Groucester (Gloucester + Worcester = grau-ster?).
Here’s what Michael had to say about the list via email:
CH: Was there one town that really sparked this idea?
MB: I’m a Fitchburger by birth, raised in a region that sounded like a sneeze (Montachusett), so I feel like I’ve been surrounded by bizarre town names my whole life. (Swampscott. Hubbardston. Mashpee. Belchertown. Plainville.) I come from a poetry background so I love to chew on words, and a drive down Rte. 2 has never disappointed me in that regard. I think at the time this list was born, I was thinking about how unfortunate the word Athol is.
Were there any other faux towns that almost made the list?
Yeah, there were a few. There are some pretty great “first name” towns here (Sharon, Dennis, Dudley), so I wanted to get something like “Ralph” in there, but I didn’t think it would work in isolation. We’ve got a handful of “food towns” in Massachusetts, too (Sandwich, Orange, and to a lesser extent, Chicopee), but I think I covered that territory enough with all the “-ham” I scattered around the list.
What is your favorite REAL town name in Massachusetts?
Even though I’m still not convinced it’s real, I’ve always been enchanted by the idea of Braintree; though I suppose it’s not much stranger than, say, Liverpool. This makes me think I should have included some more “organ towns”: Spleenfield, Lunglow, Duodedham, Mouthmouth …