Southerners slow to adopt new names

Published 10:31 am Wednesday, February 15, 2006

By Staff
What's in a name? Sometimes a lot of history, especially around here.
Someone pointed in a meeting last week that there's an industry in downtown Brewton, Citation. But most people refer to it as ADICO, short for Alabama Ductile, its former name.
In the same vein, many still refer to Smurfit Stone as &#8220Container” and the mental health building as &#8220the old medical center.” It's such a common description that a meeting announcement in today's newspaper (see Page 3) refers to the building as such.
Dogwood Hills, the municipal golf course, hasn't been a country club in about 10 years. But it's still &#8220the old club” to most people.
Jefferson Davis State Junior College became Jefferson Davis Community College late in 1990. When's the last time you heard someone say, &#8220she's enrolled at the community college?” Un-uh. It's &#8220the junior college” still.
It was earlier that same year that Atmore Community Hospital adopted a new name. To many, ACH is still &#8220Greenlawn Hospital.”
Eons ago, Buster's Restaurant on Hwy. 31 in Atmore was McMurphy's Dairy Bar. Still, it's &#8220the Dairy Bar” to locals who know that Friday's special is roast beef, best ordered with gravy fries.
Before Robert Faircloth bought a David's Catfish franchise, his Atmore restaurant was &#8220The Ponderosa.” Rather than make that name change, many people decide to eat &#8220down at Robert's.”
Speaking of the Faircloths, the same rule of thumb goes for married last names. I once identified Escambia School Superintendent Buck Powell's wife, Mary Bess, by her maiden name, &#8220Mary Bess Faircloth,” in a photo caption. Mind you, I didn't know Mary Bess before she was married, but I had heard enough people call her by her maiden name that it rolled right off of my fingertips and on to a newspaper page without a second thought.
The practically brand new three-county economic development association in our area was &#8220Tri-County” for only months before getting a snazzy name to make it resonate more with businesses and industries considering locating here. Still, if I refer to it by the new name, &#8220Coastal Gateway Economic Development Authority,” I almost feel as if I have a responsibility to qualify it with a &#8220tri-county” or &#8220Yank's group” description.
In the middle of my hometown, there's a one-stop convenience store that sells everything from gas to a pretty decent pizza to crickets and worms. It's a Shell station, but locals refer to it as &#8220the Elba Texaco.” You guessed it: it used to actually be the Elba Texaco.
Imagine the confusion to a newcomer, riding around looking for a Texaco sign so they can buy a pizza or crickets and all they see is a Shell station!
Yep. If you're moving to a small town, it's best to bone up on local history, lest you get lost in search of ancient signs.
Michele Gerlach is the publisher of The Brewton Standard. She can be reached at or 867.4876

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