As I said at the time, I’ve been thinking about names. Especially place names. Take “Baltimore,” a name most of us use repeatedly and never consider. There’s Balty More, kind of salty. Or Balta moor, rather Mediterranean. The name itself sounds Irish. I know, they were English. But it sure sounds like Ballyhagen or . . .
Of course, not everybody pronounces quite the same. I was in Florida a couple of years back and we went out to a restaurant owned by a woman and her husband, who had retired from Tennessee and, well, got so bored with the retirement life they went back into business just to take their minds off the boredom. So, following the dinner, she asked us where we were all from and the first of my colleagues replied, “I’m from Los Angeles,” and she said, “Oh, that’s very nice,” and the second colleague replied, “I’m from Chicago,” and she said, “Oh, that’s a nice city,” and the third said, “I’m from right here in Florida,” and of course she had to ask what neighborhood, and then my fourth colleague drawled, “I’m from right outside Atlanta,” and naturally they had that Southern thing going right away, in ways we Northerners can never know about. Finally, she turned to me and I said, as some folks around here do, “Bal’mer.” All of my colleagues looked at me queerly. Bal’mer? Not Bal-ty more? But not that lady, no sir. Without missing a beat, she came back, “Oh! Merlin!” Yessirree. I’m from the state of Merlin.
But back to Bal’mer, which sounds like something you put on a wound. Especially a burn.
At one time, the name made sense. Unique, except for the home plantation, wherever that was back in the British Isles. Named for the good Lord Baltimore, and all that.
But it’s time for a change.
For one thing, there are so many other Baltimores around the country, we’re only the biggest of them these days. I mean, there are all of those West Baltimores, New Baltimores, and North Baltimores, and so on running around, who needs them?
Even the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad decided it was time to change its name to CSX or whatever. Even here, in the metropolis, we have problems confusing, as we do, between Baltimore City and Baltimore County.
No, friends, it’s time for a change. New and improved, as they say in the advertising business.
We could turn to the original names, but Fells Point just doesn’t ring quite right. And Jonestown just won’t work, not after the Reverend Jim and his little band of suicidals. Nor would Otterbein, with its sectarian overtones as a denomination that no longer exists, for that matter. Harbor City doesn’t quite say it. Our nicknames Charm City, Mobtown, Crabtown, and so on, fail us as well.
What I am proposing is Pimlico.
Yes, this is Horse Country. And Pimlico has a nice ring to it. Consider the crowd that does Paris and Rome each year. Would they ever say, “I did Paris, Rome, and Baltimore”? Hell, no. But now try “Paris, Rome, and Pimlico” and you see what I mean. Pimlico has the kind of sound to it to reflect our definite up scaling of the city. It sounds just a tad racy, too.
Say Pimlico it shall be.
Remember, when you see the shining college students outside your favorite supermarket and they ask you to sign the petition, do not hesitate. And remember to vote yes on Proposition Fourteen, to rename Baltimore City and Baltimore County. Either or both.
Then we call all unite in saying, with renewed vigor: “Tally Ho, Pimlico!”
If only …