Monday, February 20, 2012

981 Jew Pond

981 Jew Pond

That’s what they call it.  It ‘s the official name.  It’s in Mount Vernon, New Hampshire and it’s been called that since the 1920s when Jewish people owned the hotel it faces.  

Funny name.  But, so what.  It’s just New England wasps speaking typically New England plain talk.

Now comes the local Roman Catholic bishop, Peter Libasci, who has started a local flap about the name, which he says evokes contempt.  Some residents counter “it’s a part of our history.”  Voters will decide next month whether to change the name.

A puddle named “Jew Pond” is not exactly like flying the Nazi or confederate flags.  But the defenders of the name are invoking the same defense as those who want to keep the stars and bars or the twisted cross in the air.

And “Jew Pond” is not exactly as bad as some of the names they could call it, and probably do, privately.  

The hotel was started by a couple of Boston lawyers as a place where Jews could vacation during an era in which some other local hotels barred Jewish customers.  The name of the hotel was and is Grand Hill.  So residents will decide whether to call it “Grand Hill Pond.”

They could name it for the founders, whose names are buried somewhere in the local record books.  Goldberg Pond?  Horowitz Pond?

The hotel in its heyday was indeed grand.  One hundred rooms on four stories, surrounded by a charmingly monstrous Victorian shell.  It burned down in the 1930s.  But since ponds don’t generally catch fire (except in areas where they drill for gas,) it’s still there.

Thanks to the bishop, Jewish organizations are suddenly appalled. Please, gang, it’s not THAT terrible.  Using “Jew” as an adjective is generally offensive.  Maybe they can change the name to “Jewish Pond.”



Shrapnel:
--An ESPN play-by-play announcer recently used the phrase “chink in the armor” to describe a play involving Taiwanese-American basketball star Jeremy Lin, and people are making all kinds of excuses for the slur.  Lin has revitalized the Knicks and in some ways the entire NBA.  And there IS no excuse for the slur.

--There’s been a fight in New York for about 20 years over whether to rent public schools to churches for weekend services, and at the moment, the church-state separatists are winning.  But the state legislature wants to force the city to let services take place in its buildings, which it forbids, except when it doesn’t.  So now it’s up to the courts and we’ll see which side has the bigger budget or the more influential friends on the bench.


Have You Noticed? It’s always windy on the day they’re scheduled to pick up the recycling and later in the day everyone has to go out and collect the debris to get it ready for next week’s windstorm.


I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

1 comment:

Rich said...

Just a few tidbits on this for ya, Wes. First, out Town is "Mont Vernon", not Mount Vernon. The hotel (Grand Hotel, not Grand Hill Hotel) was started by George Bates, who dug out a pond to irrigate the hotel's golf course and called it "Spring Pond". The name Jew Pond was apparently coined decades later when two Jewish attorneys from bought the closed hotel. Jewish orgainzations didn't suddenly become appalled when the Bishop submitted his letter to the editor, they had heard about the name when it hit the papers that Jew Pond was closed because of an algae bloom a year prior, and when a town resident interviewed the director of the Jewish Federation as a part of a documentary she made for a UNH class. Although the name isn't maybe as bad as flying a Natzi flag as you suggest, many of us (I submitted the proposal to the USGS to change the name - and BTW I'm not Jewish) think it perpetuates an insult and should be changed (again). That's all.