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Kentucky by Heart: When it comes to having pun in Kentucky, there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit available

By Steve Flairty
KyForward columnist

I have always enjoyed playing with words, and mostly in a fun sort of way. Call me corny, silly, or otherwise, but I consider myself a “pun guy.” (Some would say “fungi,” but I’m not sure how to take that.)

Until recently, it didn’t dawn on me that my own state of Kentucky’s geography possesses such a gold mine of punny material. Well… one might think this middle-aged former teacher has too much time on his hands, but he really doesn’t. A looming book deadline, a weekly column, book reviews for a magazine, and occasional sub teaching gigs keep me in focused motion.

Now, as for the puns about Kentucky, they’re low-hanging fruit found in my regular research on the state, especially when it comes to both incorporated and unincorporated towns—often being tiny map dots.

(Image from ballardcounty.wordpress.com)

Where I was raised, I always took a shine to nearby Silver Grove, on track as having one of the most intriguing high school sports mascots -— the Big Trains. And at Claryville, Campbell County’s Camels seldom need a water break, and if they do, they can stop at Cold Spring. If you are young and growing Wilder, you just may need a Mentor.

But punning goes on all over the state, so watch for children playing in Totz; they’re of all Ages, and it’s good to Foster a good example, even if you don’t plan a Stopover there.

Be sure to wear your ugliest Christmas sweater in Tacky Town, and stay away from fighting in Scuffletown because you might get a Blackey eye. Instead, seek Unity.

Remember that you’ll have to Ford the Grassy Creek because it is too shallow to take Combs Ferry, and just because you’re on a High Bridge doesn’t mean you’ll see a Sun Valley…or a Sunrise. If your traveling dog needs a potty break, you might stop at Lone Oak; if for something to eat, there is a Big Bone.

Steve Flairty grew up feeling good about Kentucky. He recalls childhood day trips (and sometimes overnight ones) orchestrated by his father, with the take-off points being in Campbell County. The people and places he encountered then help define his passion about the state now. After teaching 28 years, Steve spends much of his time today writing and reading about the state and still enjoys doing those one-dayers (and sometimes overnighters). “Kentucky by Heart” shares part and parcel of his joy. A little history, much contemporary life, intriguing places, personal experiences, special people, book reviews, quotes, and even a little humor will, hopefully, help readers connect with their own “inner Kentucky.”

As you see the Beauty of Kentucky, here’s hoping you have Lovely weather, though it often rains in Webbville, but not in Dry Ridge.

On a Normal day in Oddville, don’t Rush; it might, however, be appropriate to whiz through Bullitsville, but be careful for the speed Trapp. If you’re Mayking good time, spin over to see your old girlfriends at Bonnieville. There, you might come across Hazel, Polly, Nancy, Lily, Laura, or even Betsy Layne. Watch for Jeff; he liked those girls, too.

Hope you’ll weasel your way to Ermine, but watch out for a Wolf hoping to make a Pig or even a Hogg of itself. You must make a short stop in Dwarf, and if you’re looking for a really Little spot, check out Tiny Town. Look down at the ground in Fearsville; there might be a Viper or a Mousie afoot. I wish I had a nickel for every time I passed through Buffalo, where those bison are grazing on the Fresh Meadows and like to rub their Shoulderblade against a tree.

Kentucky has surely taken its share of Licks: Grants, Salt, Bee, Beaver, Mays, Paint, Wolf, Sulphur, and Deer. Things are slow in Terrapin, but sometimes you have to Settle. There are a Million reasons to like Kentucky, and Number One is Seventy Six! One town has a female name because no man is an Island. Be assured, Halfway or Midway through your travels, you’ll be in Center.

Be careful not to get lost in Rabbit Hash; you’ll be a hare out of place.

I’ll warn you…it’s not very exciting in Blandville, but it might get better for you Farmers in Fancy Farm. I would scratch Briarwood, but they say Artville or Paintsville is a good place to bring your Ezel. And if you are a sculptor, Little Rock or Stone is your place; but remember, you can always do a Gravel Switch. A Pleasant place to stay is Stay, except in the summer when you might fight off a Black Gnat.

I would combine a trip to Pleasureville and Whoopie Hill, and I would seek a Keene understanding at Science Hill. You may want to take stock of a trip to Cowan or Horse Cave, or pick Booger Branch as a destination, also. Be nice to Thelma and Louisa, whose acts may lead them to Peewee Valley…and their final Lair.

If you think this exercise in punnery is within a Monkey’s Eyebrow of Tyewhoppety, you are possibly a Possum Trot away from personal Independence — or maybe on the road to Ruin.

Editor’s Note: This column originally appeared at KyForward April 5, 2016

Steve Flairty is a teacher, public speaker and an author of six books: a biography of former Kentucky Afield host Tim Farmer and five in the Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes series, including a kids’ version. Steve’s “Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes #4,” was released in 2015. Steve is a senior correspondent for Kentucky Monthly, a weekly KyForward and NKyTribune columnist and a member of the Kentucky Humanities Council Speakers Bureau. Contact him at sflairty2001@yahoo.com or visit his Facebook page, “Kentucky in Common: Word Sketches in Tribute.” (Steve’s photo by Connie McDonald).

To read more of Flairty’s Kentucky by Heart series, click here.

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