Where the Streets Have No Name?
In 1830, a survey map of the town of Northborough was created by resident Gill Valentine. The historical significance of the rendering comprises the names of landowners, vital industries, and familiar topography of the town. Curiously, the streets are not labeled, although they were named at that time.
Today those are the same streets we drive on regularly, whose names are often too familiar to warrant a second thought. While many bear the names of old families, such as Brigham and Fay, others simply carry the ID of landmarks and land forms, such as Church and Stirrup Brook. Attractive and elegant new red street signs are a testimony as to the importance of street naming and I like how they show you both where to go as well as where we have come from.
As for those signs? My friend who lives on Valentine Road is used to her street sign disappearing every February, a la incurable romantics. My friend who lives on Tomahawk pretty much assumes that anything with the high school mascot's name on it won't last more than a week or two. So when Fox News showed up last week to cover the story that over 100 street signs in town have gone missing, I wasn't very surprised.
You may or may not have seen the coverage on the late evening news a few weeks back, but as my other friend, Serendipity, will tell you, always put on lipstick and style your hair before heading out to a baseball game near the center of any town. Yes, a few of the sound bites were ME (and my hand gestures) explaining what I have seen and heard about this local scandal.
The $15,000 price tag to replace those elegant new red signs is a serious matter, as are the safety and "getting lost in your own hometown" factors. Off camera, though, I'll admit that I joked that I was more concerned about the loss of visible reminders of Northborough's founding families' names.
Mapmaker Gill Valentine would certainly have gotten a huge chuckle out of this, considering he did not use the street names 1830 anyway, and that his namesake sign had nothing to do with a holiday!
Map of Northborough, Surveyed by Gill Valentine. Northborough Historical Society, 1830.
Beth Finch McCarthy