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The Ecphorizer
The Observatory Tod Wicks
 
Some time ago I resurrected an old record of mine on which the Mills Brothers recorded hits of the 50s. One of these asked the musical question, "Why did Constantinople get the works?" and answered, "That's nobody's business but the Turks'!". Of course yesterday's Constantinople is now known as Istanbul. It occurred to me that over the ages, as governments and cultures shifted across the sands of time, a number of other cities have been known by names other than those which we find an contemporary world maps. I thought that the idle curious night like to peruse the following list of past monikers of cities across the globe and try to match them with their respective present-day names.

Chemnitz

Detskow Selo

St. Petersburg

Stalingrad

New Amsterdam

Tsaritsyn

Peiping

Pogorica

Hollandia

Wesermuende


As I was recalling from memory these names, and later checking them in the section of Webster' s listing geographical names, I realized that, beyond two or three, most that I found were locaticns within the Iron Curtain. It seems that the Soviets and their "client" states in Eastern Europe needed to glorify communist statesmen and so renamed many cities in honor of the likes of Pushkin (Detskoe Selo), Karl Marx (Karl-Marx-Stadt, nee Chemnitz), and Josip Broz (after whom we have Titograd). St. Petersburg was changed to Leningrad. It was extremely interesting to note that even the town whose name was changed (from Tsaritsyn) to honor Josef Stalin was subsequently again renamed from Stalingrad to Volgograd during the times when Stalin's name was being erased from Soviet history books.

It is interesting to note that commercial expansion of one city can gobble up smaller towns, as happened at the mouth of the Weser River in Northern Germany when Bremerhaven annexed Wesermuende.

Sometimes the written phonetic representation of Oriental characters in English can be the culprit, as happened recently when a modern method was introduced for spelling such Chinese cities' names as Beijing (Peiping).

And, although Holland is most remembered for founding New Amsterdam (New York), the port of Hollandia in Indonesia was changed to reflect the break in Dutch colonialism. This city is now known as Djajapura. I think I'll just be content to remain here in Mayfield, oops, I mean Palo Alto.  


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Count Your Blessings Jerry McCann
Don't you worry, February,
And brood about your length;
Rare indeed the adversary
Who can match your strength,
You've a Saintly Luminary,
George and Abe, his Friend,
A Hedgehog in the secondary
And an open end. 



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About
Tod Wicks
Globetrotting engineer TOD WICKS recently blew in from Tibet, wearing a fur hat and complaining that they don't brew yak-butter tea like they used to. He may or may not be off to Australia shortly, depending on whether or not they need more telephones. [He was off to Australia when his boss said:  "Go to Australia for a couple of weeks to help out.  We'll get another engineer to replace you after three weeks tops.  Three months later he returned.  Famous last words from El Jefe.]

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About
Jerry McCann
A writer, editor and bon vivant, he poetizes from San Jose, where he struggles to cultivate the art of graceful living.
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