What's in a name? In this land, we have places named for saints and scoundrels, princes and dukes, merchants and generals, and even for vice presidents such as George M. Dallas, who was probably barely known in his own term (1845-49). But one of the quirks in this land is that, with the federal system, there potentially can be 51 or more towns or post offices with identical or similar names.

Metro Scene's attention has been called to an article entitled "Hey! That's my hometown too," in Modern Maturity magazine, published in Washington by the American Association of Retired Persons. Writer Burton Schindler tracked the number of different places in the nation in which one finds identical place names.

For example, he found 26 Washingtons, and I don't know whether that includes another city where I once plied the journalist's trade on a daily called the Record-Herald: Washington Court House, Ohio.

"Since, in the early days, town-naming usually was handled by the first settler on the scene, sometimes the new towns were named for the ones left behind," Schindler wrote.

"If you ask folks to pick the name they believe occurs most often, Springfield usually will win. That's because it seems to pop up on every state road map when you are driving across the country. Well, not quite. But it does appear in 24 states" -- including Virginia, where it's by no means a new name. It was a station on the railroad as far back as 1861.

Schindler's article sent me to the postal guide to check the number of post offices bearing the names of metro region communities. Across the land, you'll find 22 Arlingtons (plus three places named Arlington Heights and one Upper Arlington), 17 Mount Vernons, 15 Richmonds, 14 Winchesters, 12 Alexandrias (and one Alexandria Bay, in upstate New York), 11 Viennas (one each in Maryland and Virginia), 7 Rockvilles (including a Richmond, Va., suburb), two places called Silver Spring (the other is in Pennsylvania) and, if you're interested, three called Silver Springs.

Baltimore would seem to be a potentially popular name, but there are only two (the other is in Ohio), plus a Virginia hamlet this side of Warrenton called New Baltimore.