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Editorial: It's one word -- but who's counting?

Monday, August 5, 2002

It's either no big deal, or it's a really big deal. And it probably depends on where you live.

Ask almost anyone who lives in the town about four miles east of Marble Hill, Mo. -- on Highway 34 with about 100 hardy souls -- how to spell the name of the town, and they will gladly oblige. After all, this is a friendly small town.

Two words, they'll tell you. Not one. Two.

And that's the way it's been for as long as anyone can remember.

Except for one thing: The Missouri Department of Transportation, which puts out the state's official highway map, shows the name of the town as one word. And the U.S. Postal Service agrees -- although it would be a rare Postal Service representative who would try to make a big deal about it at the local post office.

Folks have spelled the name of the town with two words for so long they will actually argue -- nicely, of course, and with a smile -- if you show them the map.

Yes, they'll say, it's hard to imagine how both the state and federal governments could be so wrong.

Along came the newspaper asking questions -- snooping, some might say. In the end, the official spelling of the name -- reluctantly verified by some local authorities -- is one word.

Maybe you've noticed that this editorial hasn't mentioned the name of the town. Look, we're in enough trouble already just for raising the question.

So if you want to spell it "Glen Allen," that's perfectly OK with us.


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