Whats In A Name?

You would think that a certain amount of care and checking goes into the manufacture of street signs throughout Westport.

But you would be wrong.

Setting aside the lack of standardization — there must be half a dozen styles of signs on public roads, plus the hundreds of private ones — there are also instances in which even the people who live somewhere must be confused.

Consider Sipperley’s Hill/Sipperleys Hill Road. (Which, I am sure, most Westporters think of as “Slippery Hill.”)

Sipperleys collage

Or Hillspoint/Hills Point. (Which, I think, was actually named for a family called Hill, not the geographic feature heading toward the beach. That means neither rendering is correct; instead it should be Hill’s Point, right?)

Hillspoint collage

Now look closely at the sign above, on the right. It says Greens Farms Road. There’s an ongoing debate which is correct: that, or Green’s Farms.

Whichever side is right, I know the one below is dead wrong:

Green Farms Road


(Hat tip to Bruce Nemirow — who actually lives in Norwalk.)

35 responses to “Whats In A Name?

  1. Tom Feeley

    “Attention to detail” and
    “lack of supervision” are
    two phrases that come to mind.

  2. Mary Ann West

    Bruce (and Dan) has hit a nerve!
    Sign confusion or lack of signage seems to be a Northeast kind of thing. I wish we would work on more cohesive standard signage: better identification (with numbering) of Post Road East & West, upcoming notice of major North & South intersections, larger, brighter, reflective and easier to read street signs etc…

    The lack of adequate signage and the random placement of state road numbers lead to confusion and creates accident potential as people realize they have blown past a road. Sure GPS has changed the game…for those with the technology.

  3. Morley Boyd

    The Green(‘)s Farms thing has always confused me. Plainly the term is a reference to an area of the town that was once owned and associated with the Green family. Shouldn’t it be possessive? As in Green’s Farms?

  4. nlongman@optonline.net

    Yeah, and I live on Steep Hill Rd., Weston, which for some reason I like to see as 2 words. It is a steep hill.

    When it’s written mushed together, I like to think of a French address: St. Ephill; why not?

    And Weston also has Good Hill Rd.

    Norbie Longman

  5. and Lyon’s/Lyons Plains Road…..

  6. Jack Backiel

    There were seven Bankside farmers in Westport near what is now the Farfield line. They had “long lots” running from the sound inland. In other words, their farms were long and narrow. Thus is the origin of the name Long Lots Road. One of these seven farmers was John Green. His long lot became the name of that section of Westport.

  7. Bobbie Herman

    And then you have signs reading “Maple Avenue South,” but on the other side of the Post Road, the sign says “North Maple Avenue.”

  8. Morley Boyd

    Barons South…

  9. Brett Aronow

    When I was PTA president at Green’s Farms School we were quite particular about the spelling of our school with the apostrophe and s. It was Mr. Green’s farm. Also, what is the scoop with Minute Man Hill. I’ve seen that spelled differently everywhere. Is it one word or two?

  10. Scott E. Brodie

    My understanding is that considerable care was taken to explain to the students that their school is called “Greens Farms School” without any apostrophe (as it is chiseled in stone over the front door!), notwithstanding any preconceptions one might have based on the usual rules of English or the conventions suggested by local history. The town’s web site is quite consistent about it. Burr Farms Road, and Burr Farms School seem to have inherited the plural “s” by analogy. Burr School Road successfully avoided the controversy, though the school is now long gone.

  11. Lawrence Weisman

    Check out Sycamore/Sycmore. And while we’re at it, take note of the brass plaque at the open space parcel on Imperial Ave.where a word intended to be “whose” appears as “who’s”

  12. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Any “field” vs “feild”? The latter denotes a touch of aristocracy.

  13. Morley Boyd

    I’d love to hear the explanation that the GFA students receive to get their minds right about the school’s – sorry – schools name. I wonder if it takes place in History class? Or English?

    • Nancy Hunter Wilson

      Sure enough, looking at my old 1975 Staples Football Awards Night program (we were 11-0, by the way!), I see that one of the raffle prize donors is “Greens Farms Spirit Shop”. Right under “Ed Mitchell’s”, then followed by McArthurs”s Sunoco, Leong’s Palace, “Taylor’s Flowers”, “Mario’s Place, “Bill’s Smoke Shop”, “Schaefer’s Sporting Goods”, etc.

      And then there is “Chubby Lane’s”. And I always thought it was “Chubby Lanes”.

      • Thanks, Nancy. It’s Chubby Lane’s, because the guy who owned it was named Chubby Lane. Well, actually, Mark Lane. Chubby was his nickname. So I guess: “Chubby” Lane’s.

        • Jack Backiel

          Chubby Lane must have been Paul Lane’s brother. Paul Lane was a gym teacher at Staples. I think Paul had a piece of ownership with his brother. I always thought Paul owned it outright, but according to Dan, it must have been with his brother, Mark.

          • Nancy Hunter Wilson

            Paul Lane was our Head Coach indeed, and there’s a great photo of him in the Staples ’76 yearbook looking either shocked or very pleased that the football team did so well. I never knew the connection with Chubby Lane’s.

            • Bobbie Herman

              Was Coach Lane named for him?

              • Paul and Mark (Chubby) were brothers — and there were about 6 other Lane kids, too. I worked at Chubby’s (at the beach and on the Post Road — Westport’s 1st $1 hamburger!), and as far as I knew it was all Chubby’s. I don’t think Paul had anything to do with it. Although Paul lived then (and still does) on Soundview Drive, a few houses away from the beach concession stand. Chubby is now in Delaware, though his grandson is at Staples.

                And no, Coach Lane (in the Gault Park section of town) was NOT named for the football coach!

      • Nancy Hunter Wilson

        p.s. As an aside, is it PC now to have tobacco and liquor stores sponsor high school events???

  14. Arlene aavellanet

    Then there’s Lyons Plains Rd, Lyon’s Plains Rd and Lyons Plain Rd. It is my understanding that the first is correct as the apostrophe was officially removed.

  15. Morley Boyd

    Who are these apostrophe vandals and how did they become officials at the Ministry of Silly Signs? Clearly GFA is somehow involved.

  16. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Clearly, they have turned away.


    Personally, I like the idea my four year old grandson had. When I asked Luke if he knew what street I lived on ( Hillspoint Road ) he answered ” of course I do. You live on Grandma street.”

  18. Iain Bruce

    The US Board on Geographic Names has been conducting a war on the apostrophe since its creation by President Benjamin Harrison in 1890. Apparently they have only approved five names with apostrophes in them, and have re-ratified their anti-apostrophe apostasy numerous times. See the Wall Street Journal, 15 May 2013. I’d paste a link, but can’t figure out how to do that in Dan’s comment window, and it’s probably behind a paywall anyway. Here’s the URL in case it shows up as a link, or I guess you can cut and paste it: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324244304578471252974458308

  19. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    The “US Board on Geographic Names”?
    And people complain about their town taxes?
    What’s the sense in that? Oh, just a pain the (blank) for standardization.

    • And how is that any different from your own counterpart, Nancy, the Geographical Names Board of Canada? http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/earth-sciences/geography/place-names/9174

      • Nancy Hunter Wilson

        Yes, quite true. However, I’ve never heard people complain about apostrophes. Maybe we should. (Then again, there was the “field”/”feild” issue!) Maybe we should both be spending less money on federal gov’t boards and more on our towns and cities.
        I wonder what it costs to run these Geographical Names Boards?

  20. Tom Feeley

    Thinking “Chubby” was not polite, I called him “Mark” once. He corrected me, said: “my names Chubby!”
    Nuff said.