Honestly, that Frank Forrester. We scribes thought we'd gotten some peace when he retired as public relations honcho at the U.S. Geological Survey. But to judge from the letter he sent the other day, the old trivia buff hasn't slowed down a bit.
"Perhaps some of your readers can answer the question, 'What are the official names of inhabitants of the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts?'" Frank wrote.
After all, he pointed out, there's no question about the other 48. Mississippian rolls right off the tongue. Iowan, Californian, Texan leave no room for doubt.
There are even official names for inhabitants of our territories and possessions, Frank points out. Maybe you didn't know that a resident of Guam is a Guamanian, but at least the word exists, which is more than our friends in Hartford and Boston can say.
But what do they say? Rather than wait to put it to my readers, I picked up the phone.
"Well," said Clark Strickland, Connecticut's Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, "um, uh, nobody knows."
Then he asked me to hold on: maybe some other guy in the office knew. There was a lot of scurrying and giggling, spiced with that funny noise a human voice makes when its owner cups his hand over the receiver so he can shout a question down the hall.
Finally, Clark was back.
"Well, 'Connectikittens' is the joking name. And the most common and preferred serious name is 'Connecticut Yankee.'"
"No one-word name, like 'Floridian?'" I asked. "Nope, sorry."
On I charged to Valerie Talamage, the state archeologist for Massachusetts.
Her first answer was the best.
"We call them Taxpayers," she said.
Then she, too, asked me to hold on. Scurry, gigle, cupping of hand over receiver. Finally, she was back:
"I'm sorry, but the only official title is Bay Stater." Anticipating my next question, she added: "But 'New Yorker' isn't one word, either, you know."
Neither are the other "News" (Hampshire, Jersey, Mexico), or either Carolina, or either Dakota, or Rhode Island or West Virginia, I replied. But surely the state where they landed at Plymouth Rock. . .?
"Nope. Sorry," she said. "But we are a little special because we have names of our neighbors. We call the Connecticut people Nutmeggers and the people to the north Mainiacs."
So there you are, Forrester, you miserable Old Dominionite. You keep it up, and we all just might learn something.
STATES SEQUEL (from Smith Hempstone Oliver of Northwest): Which are the five states that, pre-Zip Code, we never abreviated? Answer tomorrow.
Thanks to Dawson (Tack) Nail of Northwest for the report of a great scam an RFK Stadium parking lot attendant tried to pull.
Tack pulled into the lot just before the July 19 Diplomats-Montreal soccer game. He already had his $2 out.
"Three bucks," said the attendant.
"Oh, when did it go up?" Tack asked him.
The attendant then corrected himself and said he meant $2.
Smelling a large rat, Tack waited for the next car.
"Three bucks," said the attendant. Which is how much the next moterist paid.
SON OF SCAM: Alan Huguley of Silver Spring thought nothing of it when the U.S. Park Policeman motioned him onto the grass beside the Jefferson Memorial the other night.
After all, Huguley was only one of dozens of motorists arriving for the Air Force Band's free concert. And surely the cops knew what they were doing.
Entirely too well, as Alan and dozens of other music lovers discovered. When they returned to their cars, every last one bore a $10 parking ticket.