Dec 26th, 2011 | By | Category: Senior Travel

Seniors Enjoy Bumble Bee and Surprise

Since my wife and I now spend most our year in Arizona, I thought that I would share with SCJ readers a few “weird names” of towns in this state.  California has the longest list of names, and Texas and Pennsylvania comes close. You may never have an opportunity to visit any of these sites, but some of them are quite nice and have a rather large population (See: Show Low, Bumble Bee, Carefree, and Surprise). So seniors, I’ll make a wager that you have lots of weird names for towns in your home state as well.

I find each amusing and of course there is always a good reason and a history as to why these sites have a particular name.  Show Low in NE Arizona is a good example. According to the legend, the city was named after a marathon poker game between C.E. Cooley and Marion Clark. The two men decided there was not enough room for both of them in their settlement. The two men agreed to let a game of cards decide who was to move. According to the tale, Clark said, “If you can show low, you win.”

Bumble Bee and the nearby creek were given its name in 1870 when a Nevada former slave owner, J.X. Theut, first spotted the water source that saved his life. It is at this creek that Theut ran into the legendary drunk named K. Billingsley Callaway. Legend holds that Theut, known for being notoriously swift on his feet, tossed a rock at a bee hive which rested 2 feet from the maniac Billingsley Callaway. Theut tossed the pebble and the bees attacked Billingsley. Billingsley, being allergic to bees fell ill and crawled away back into his cave. Nobody has seen either man since.

Characterized as an upscale residential area, Carefree was conceived in the mid-1950s by business partners K.T. Palmer and Tom Darlington as a master-planned community. Land sales commenced in 1955 and homebuilding followed shortly thereafter in 1958. Typical of Carefree’s character are its street names—Tranquil Trail, Easy Street, Ho-and-Hum Roads and Long Rifle, Stagecoach and Bloody Basin—which reflect both its quiet, casual air as well as its Western heritage. The motto of Carefree is “Home of Cowboys and Caviar, Where the Old West Meets the New.”

Surprise was founded in 1938 by Flora Mae Statler, who named it Surprise as she “would be surprised if the town ever amounted to much”. Surprise officials previously thought the city was founded by Statler’s husband, real estate developer and state legislator Homer C. Ludden, but in 2010 property records were discovered which listed Statler owning the land before she met Ludden. Although there were only a few houses and a gas station on the one-mile (1.6 km)-square parcel of land when it was subdivided to build inexpensive houses for agricultural workers, Surprise has experienced tremendous growth in the years since.  It incorporated into a city in 1960.

More Strange City Names

While you are in Arizona,  you will find small burgs that have interesting names like Bagdad, Boneyard, Bootlegger Crossing, Chloride, Floss, Goobertown, Goodyear, Many Farms, Nothing, Strong, Three Forks, Tuba City, Two Guns and Why. The last one always intrigued me until I passed by this wide spot on the road from Ajo (= garlic) to Puerto Peñasco, Mexico.  I discovered the unusual name of the town comes from the fact that the two major highways originally intersected in a Y-intersection one leading off to Tucson.

So be alert and see if you can find any of these in your Rand McNally Guide… Bald Knob, Okay, Possum Grape, Romance, Blue Eye, Greasy Corner, Nuckles, Pocahontas, Gasville, Flippin, Turkey Scratch, Weiner and Smackover. Incidentally, they are all in the same state.  Good luck on this one seniors!  Have fun. If you give up easily, find the answer here.  jeb

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