The White House in miniature?

James H. Bready

February 03, 1993|By James H. Bready

THE stranger had a gimlet eye -- and a challenge. "Why," he asked, "is Maryland spoken of as 'the White House in miniature'?"

Didn't know it was, we replied, but all compliments good-graciously received.

"Maybe it has to do with presidential names," the fellow said. "Go back to the start, and call the roll. Especially with President's Day coming up, maybe you can show that every single president so far has left his mark on Maryland."

Wel-l-l, OK, we replied. Washington, yes -- as in Washington Grove, a Montgomery County village. Adams, as in Frederick County's Adamstown. Jefferson Island, over in Talbot. Dorchester has a Madison. Monrovia, again in Frederick; Adams Point, in Anne Arundel; Jackson, in Cecil. Not so hard, really.

"Bet you haven't got a Van Buren," he said, with a disconcerting leer.

Will you settle for Van Bibber, in Harford? we offered. Sometimes one must allow for the vagaries of Maryland spelling and pronunciation. Without pausing for his reply, we pressed on: Harrison Ferry, in Dorchester; Tylerton (Somerset); Polkomoke City (Worcester).

The stranger, in some kind of spasm, was slapping his thighs.

Taylorsville in Carroll; Fulmers in Frederick (that groan -- was it from beyond the grave?); Pierce's Neck in Cecil; Buchanan in Allegany; Lincoln Avenue, a postal office in Hagerstown. (We were rooting around in a 1941 gazetteer of Maryland and a 1953 U.S. Official Postal Guide.) Johnson? Choice of bay, creek, crossroad, island, landing, mountain, pond or village. Grantsville (Garrett).

An unholy light shone in the stranger's eyes. "Bet you don't have an Eisenhower," he said.

Suppressing a chill of fear, we plodded onward: Hazen (Allegany), Garfield (Frederick), Arters Mill (Carroll), Clevelandville (Washington), Harrisonville (Baltimore County), McKinstry's Mill (Carroll). Well, it can be hard for a Republican in this state. Roseville (Queen Anne), Tate (Anne Arundel), Wilson Point Wharf (Kent), Herring Bay (Anne Arundel), and, egad, Coolidge Park (Prince George's university town). Back to Frederick for Hoover's Mill; to Balto. Co. for Rossville; to P.G. for Trueman Point.

OK, here it comes: Ijams (pronounced Eye-yams) Hauser, one in Montgomery and the other in Garrett but consolidated for the purpose.

Kennedyville (Kent), Johnson (Washington), Nicholson (Kent). Where had the stranger gone to? Just when we had his question all answered. Ford's Wharf (Kent), Carter's Crossroads (Carroll), Ragged Island (Dorchester) (the nearest actual Reagan is in Tennessee) and, ta-da! Bush River (Harford).

At least 28 states have a populated place called Clinton, but the town in Prince George's has to be the most apposite of them all. That's because it started life under another name (Surratts); and, as many voters are aware, our newest president changed surnames in boyhood, assuming that of his stepfather, which was Clinton.

But yes, Dukakis would've been a tough one.

James H. Bready is a retired editorial writer.

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