If Little Red Riding Hood could visit the area, she might say “My, South Philadelphia, what a great history you have!” Yes, my fellow residents, we inhabit an interesting stretch with immense pride and fortitude. We are, however, not short on oddities. I have compiled what I deem our neighborhood’s strangest avenue and street names, with background for a few and attempts at humor for all.
I became aware of this one while a student at St. John Neumann High School. Not as interested in etymologies as I am now, I could not have cared less about the origin of the name. Learning two years ago that it comes from the Lenape term for “pigeon droppings,” I wish I had stayed ignorant.
Another Lenape offering, Passyunk translates as “in the valley.” Much more pleasant than “pigeon droppings,” it has inspired a few debates on its pronunciation, and though I am open to accepting counterpoints to most topics, never ever expect for me to make this word three syllables!
A third Lenape gift, this one translates as “peaceful place.” Situated near the Delaware River, it sounds apt for every time of year except for the Christmas season, when shoppers at adjacent stores curse their fate while dealing with long lines.
I do not eat meat, so I do not hanker for any cow when I hear this one; however, could someone order me some French fries?
This one makes my list only because it sounds like “warlock,” and I would love to put spells on certain people to pay me back borrowed money. Guilty conscience, anyone?
Iseminger is a real humdinger in the name department. Another one that can be a pronunciation nightmare, it makes me want to use it in a poem, if only to rhyme it with “linger” or “singer.”
Sharing its name with an area and electoral ward in the London Borough of Lewisham, this one can have someone sounding very American if the last syllable is pronounced like the pig product or ultra English if someone utters the entire word much like “synonym.” Try the latter!
The Greek mythology fan in me loves this one; my humble side leads to speculation on the namer’s modesty.
Birthmarks are fine by me, so I am not deeming this one goofy because it conjures thoughts of blemishes. Instead, it merits placement because the mammal version creeps me out!
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