Thursday, July 26, 2018

Time to change town name from Youngstown to Palmerville


Because it would lure ample tourist dollars to a needy destination, I’m proposing we rename Youngstown, Pa., … 

Palmerville!

Youngstown, pop. 314, was founded in 1800 by the Young family of pioneers back in 1800.

Like nobody would have found it in the next week or so. Heck, I can’t be sure but I think the local Taco Bell opened in 1804.

And what kind of pioneers come to within a day’s ride of Pittsburgh and say, “Okay, whoa, that’s far enough.”

These dainty souls were the sort who when they heard Horace Greeley say, “Go west, young man,” must have thought he was talking about Irwin, today a Pennsylvania Turnpike interchange thriving enough to support not one but two Sheetz convenience marts.

(Note: Sheetz convenience stores sell practically everything but sheets and asking the clerk for sheets is funny maybe once, but leaves them acting genuinely pissed after five days.)

And because the Young family stuck us with Youngstown we’re forever being confused with Youngstown, Ohio, a Rust Belt city so downtrodden Bruce Springsteen wrote a morose song about it in 1995 and in 23 years nothing’s happened that would warrant a lyrical brightening.

So there’s the sound reasons for dropping Youngstown, a handle with zero zip or zing.

Don’t get me wrong. I love it here — and so did the man I propose we honor with a splashy name change, a man who could have been pampered in palaces around the planet, but chose to live and die on the same Youngstown Street where he was born.

I’m, of course, talking about Arnold Palmer.

Can you imagine the global publicity if we announced we were changing the name from Youngstown to Palmerville? Golf Channel would cover it live. Tourists would pour in by the busloads.

It’s happening already. About every week or so, I’m summoned to the bar to meet someone who’d heard me speak or had bought the book and wanted to pilgrimage to the Tin Lizzy and visit some of the other Palmer landmarks.

I was flattered just last week when four lovely women in their 60s came knocking on my office door at 2:30 p.m.

“We heard you talk at the Mt. Lebanon Library and bought your book,” one said. “We decided to make a day trip. We visited the Palmer Nature Reserve, the airport, the hotel, the country club and we were hoping to finish the day by having a beer with you right here at The Tin Lizzy. I hope it’s not too early for you to have a beer.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell her I’d already downed three at lunch. 

We had a wonderful time. They said they’d be back. 

I say by then it’ll be time we welcome them back to Palmerville!

This sounds facetious, but I’m serious. How serious?

I’m pestering former Pennsylvania Gov. and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to get involved. Arnold Palmer has no greater booster than Ridge. Here’s some of what Ridge told me for my book that leads me to believe he’ll be supportive: 

“There’s no question there’s an enormous appetite to perpetuate his legacy,” Ridge says. “People are always going to want to see the town where Arnold Palmer grew up, see his workshop, his office, his memorabilia and play the course where he grew up.”
Arnold Palmer put Youngstown on the map.

It’s time we return the favor.


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