Four more towns with unusual names that Ruth & I know well are Licking, Broken Arrow, Norman, and Walla Walla.
A town of about 3,000 people, Licking is a municipality that Ruth and I always skirt when we go annually from St. Louis to West Plains to visit her relatives. I often wondered if the meth problem rumored to afflict Licking is true and where the name came from. The latter was far easier to discover than the former. The town was named for an animal salt lick. Historically, farm animals like cattle got essential nutrients from licking a natural or placed lick. I was shocked to learn that actress Miyoshi Umeki died here. Way ahead of her time, this Japanese-American singer and actress won an Oscar for her performance in the movie Sayonara. She went on to make other successful movies and TV appearances and star on Broadway in a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. She moved to Licking to be closer to her son and died there in 2007.
Broken Arrow, OK has become a suburb of Tulsa with more than 100,000 residents. Now the 4th largest community in this state, it was originally settled by Native Americans expelled from Alabama. They came here on the Trail of Tears and called their town Rekackv, which meant “Broken Arrow” in their Creek language. There isn’t much for the tourist in this city except for a Blue Bell Creamery.
Norman, OK is an almost suburb of Oklahoma City. It was named for Abner Norman, the first local land surveyor. It has an attraction worth traveling to Norman for, the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art that’s home to the notable Weitzenhoffer collection. Norman is also home to the main campus of the University of Oklahoma and this state’s 3rd largest city.
We try to visit Walla Walla in our now home state once a year. This city of almost 33,000 with the redundant name is in the eastern part of Washington and got its Native American appellation from the Walla Walla tribe. In their language Walla Walla meant “many waters”. Walla Walla is now known for its wines and its high standard of living.