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Town nicknames offer claims to fame

Our readers probably didn’t notice my absence, but I’m back after a few days of vacation.

No, I didn’t go to the beach – just a half-day trip to Jackson and back. The rest of the time, I’ve been unpacking and getting settled into my new house.

Sunday at church, people were even asking me when I was going to get moved in. Well, it has seemed like a long time since the moving van left the house on Becker Street. That was the second week in April.

It just took a little longer than expected for the renovations on the house on Hardy Lane to be finished.

But I’m here now and getting used to my new location, which is only a little bit farther from work than the old place. I didn’t even have to change city wards, which was nice, considering we voted twice since I moved.

Speaking of voting, as I write this Monday night, the election and its outcome awaits, but by Tuesday night, the results will have been posted, and we’ll know how it all came out.

One thing I found interesting was that both sides of the debate on the liquor referendum cited quality of life as an issue. Let’s hope that everyone can go back to being just neighborly again, once the vote is over.

Quality of life is certainly something that our town’s nickname, Homeseekers Paradise, is meant to convey to potential residents. I wonder where the slogan came from?

If anyone can provide the background on this, please drop me an email or a letter.

My hometown, Columbus, has two nicknames. One – the Friendly City – is, like Homeseekers Paradise, designed to entice visitors into moving in and staying put. The other, Possum Town, traces its origin, I have heard, not to the marsupials that appear feet up on roadways from time to time, but to an early settler who resembled said marsupials, according to the Native Americans who lived around him at the time.

Meridian is called the Queen City for the gypsy queen who once lived there and is buried in a local cemetery, and Hattiesburg is dubbed the Hub City, reportedly because it was an early center of the railroad and lumber industries in its region.

Artesia, a little town near where I grew up, was once known as the Hay Capital of the World, I learned as a kid. However, an online search gives the hay city’s nickname as the Johnson Grass Capital of the World. Pretty much the same thing, I guess.

The same online source that provided me with the Johnson Grass tidbit also listed Belzoni as the Catfish Capital of the World – I’ve heard that before – and Greenwood as the Cotton Capital of the World. That certainly makes sense.

Apparently Mississippi towns like being world capitals. Gulfport was listed as the Root Beer Capital of the World, and Long Beach has been known as the Radish Capital of the World.

Port Gibson’s nickname is the Town too Beautiful to Burn, because it was spared by Union troops during the Civil War.

Oxford, home of William Faulkner, was listed as the Literary Center of the South. Not the World, mind you, just the South.

Another nickname for Oxford was The Little Easy (versus New Orleans’ Big Easy). I’ve never heard that one for the home of the University of Mississippi, but Ole Miss’s Southeastern Conference competitors might latch onto it.

Rachel Eide is editor/general manager of The Daily Leader. Contact her at rachel.eide@dailyleader.com.