Interviewing Tom Bean Mayor Sherry Howard for the paper’s year-in-review article got me thinking about eponyms — important people whose names are attached to places or events. Howard said one of the town’s major accomplishments from 2013 was naming a portion of Highway 11 after longtime Tom Bean resident Lucy Williams, and I’m sure Mrs. Williams would have been honored by the recognition.

Interviewing Tom Bean Mayor Sherry Howard for the paper’s year-in-review article got me thinking about eponyms — important people whose names are attached to places or events. Howard said one of the town’s major accomplishments from 2013 was naming a portion of Highway 11 after longtime Tom Bean resident Lucy Williams, and I’m sure Mrs. Williams would have been honored by the recognition.


But over time, things change, meaning honors long ago bestowed on places and dates eventually lose their connection to their namesakes.


This area of the country, in particular, seems to draw from a small list of surnames for its labels. To wit: there’s a Denison Street in Fannin County’s Bonham, a Fannin Avenue in Denison, a Bonham Road in Tom Bean, and the list goes on. What dear old Mr. George Denison, the 19th Century railroad man who died in 1872 and never saw a car, would have thought of all this, who knows.


Other historic figures would likely turn in their graves if they could see what’s become of their namesakes. The chaste and sober bishop Saint Patrick, in particular, would be livid at the countless twenty-somethings who get rip-roaring drunk — ostensibly in his honor — each March.


I broached the subject of naming things after important people with U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall during my interview with him last year, and the subject left him nonplussed. The 17-term Congressman may have an 11,000-acre lake named after him while he’s still very much alive.


Hall didn’t comment on the lake specifically, instead offering a story about his friend and political mentor Sam Rayburn, whose birthday was last Monday and whose name adorns a stretch of highway connecting Texoma with the Metroplex.


"I can see old Sam smiling a little up there, looking at them finishing that highway, especially getting over there into Dallas County," said Hall. The Congressman laughed along with the punchline. "Sam hated Dallas."


You can only control what you can control. And once you’re gone, you can’t control anything at all. So happy birthday, Mr. Rayburn. I kind of hate Dallas too.



Happy birthday Friday to Lauri Johnston of Gunter; Savanna Hall of Denison; Greg Middents, Pat Smith, Lanora Bunn and Peyton David Reed, all of Sherman; Rebecca Conrad of Howe; Lynnette Walters of Allen; Tim Grigg.


Happy birthday Saturday to Johnny Waldrip, Anna Laura Page, Ashlund Carson, Dr. James Harrison, Chris Hawthorne, Starr Barbara Bailey Brown and Willa Pruitt, all of Sherman; Kevin Jerome Smith Jr. of Denison; Kristi Servati of Van Alstyne; Tammy Cecil of Houston; Michael Larue Conine of Woodward, Okla.