Tired of your town? Call it by its maiden name.
Wisdom came when I scheduled a home delivery from Sears, before they closed all their stores, of course. After asking for my address and zip code, the sales clerk read from his screen, “Maple Hill, Connecticut?”
Clearly not. I’ve lived in Newington for more than a decade. I never heard of Maple Hill, aside from a road in town. I asked where Maple Hill came from. The clerk didn’t know. I started digging. Turns out, Maple Hill is one of six boroughs in Newington, and one of countless others in Connecticut recognized by the Secretary of the State’s office, even though they don’t have a post office of the same name.
Being a history enthusiast, I loved this news immediately. I’m a transplanted Nutmegger, going back 20 years now, and certain that many people know about these towns, boroughs and villages. But I’d never heard anyone refer to my section of Newington as Maple Hill, or any section of town as anything other than Newington.
Besides sparking an interest, I wondered how old Sears’ internal systems were for “Maple Hill” to appear. If Sears was ready to deliver there, would I receive mail if I used Maple Hill instead of Newington? Newington is a decent town, but I wanted to see if I’d like Maple Hill better.
I sent my wife a letter addressed to our home in Maple Hill. It arrived proclaiming, “Can you believe this worked?!” and my wife’s unamused look and slow head shake didn’t deter me. Maple Hill had been legitimized.
Whenever hometowns came up in conversation, I told people I live in Maple Hill. They had no idea where that is, and I enjoyed confusing them. My perspective changed, too. Our typical, vinyl-sided suburban home seemed to take on the appearance of a log home in the woods, befitting an abode in a rustic-sounding place such as Maple Hill.
I figured I didn’t need to rake leaves anymore, either. No one does that in the woods. I also took fewer trips into town because I understood it’s dangerous traveling through the dense forests of Maple Hill leading to downtown and the Berlin Turnpike, especially late at night. I spent more time thinking by the fireplace in my newly imagined cabin.
How many other residents could embrace a new life? Turns out, thousands upon thousands, and they may not even know it. At some point, these old villages and boroughs were absorbed into one town post office. But consider what was lost.
If you live in a specific section of Killingworth, wouldn’t you rather receive mail at your address in Roast Meat Hill? Or at Christmastime, you could have family and friends wonder about the religious irony of mailing cards to Devil’s Backbone, which is part of Bethlehem.
Personally, I’d like to tell people I live in the Connecticut towns of Rattle Snake Ledge (Salem), Breakneck (Union), Sucker Brook (Winchester) or Whipstick (Ridgefield). Presumably mail sent to these places will find its way home through the municipal post office, if you don’t change the zip code.
I’m not sure I want to play with the fire of Sodom (Franklin) or any of the Beelzebub-inspired places like Devil’s Den (Weston), Devil’s Hopyard (East Haddam) and Satan’s Kingdom (New Hartford), though. Speaking of, where would mail go when addressed to Dudleytown, CT, since it shares the name of the ghostly and off-limits settlement in Cornwall?
Is there postal confusion when addressing mail to anyone living in the village of Obtuse (Brookfield)? I wonder if the State Capitol’s mailroom inadvertently receives a lot of those letters.
When outsiders ask where you live, don’t casually respond with Podunk. Specific people in South Windsor get mad. Where else would I live? The village of Headquarters, in Litchfield, where mail is delivered with an air of secrecy and authority.
So if you think your town is uninspiring, clearly, the problem is you. All you need is a slight change of address.