ATHOL The Town of Thurman received international news exposure last week — and it wasn’t focusing on the town’s nationally-recognized broadband initiative, nor any controversy that’s been sparking angry debate at recent town meetings.
The article on the front page of the Wall Street Journal Wednesday May 15 was instead about language, punctuation and the naming of a mountain dear to Thurmanites.
The article quoted four residents of Thurman, stemming from on-site interviews conducted by famed Journal Reporter Barry Newman.
Titled, “There’s a Question Mark Hanging Over the Apostrophe’s Future,” it focused on the naming of the hill known locally as “Jimmy’s Peak” — and the U.S. government’s 113-year-old policy of deleting apostrophes when establishing official names for locations, natural features and municipalities.
The news story featuring Thurman has been aired on television and published in print media from San Jose to Canada and throughout Europe. As of Wednesday evening, the article describing the Thurman apostrophe affair was mentioned on no less than 207,000 web pages.
Newman has traveled all over the world to report on quirky situations that have broad intellectual appeal, and Thurman Supervisor Evelyn Wood said Sunday May 19 she was happy Newman visited Thurman and focused on Jimmy’s Peak rather than Pike’s Peak in Colorado or another destination with an apostrophe quagmire.
“This was something that doesn’t happen every day,” Wood said. “Barry called me and asked me if anyone in town would be interested in talking to him about Jimmy’s Peak, and I said ’Of course they would.’”
The article notes that Wood, 35, possesses a college degree in English, and it quotes her objecting to the apostrophe being deleted, as doing so obscures the difference in a reference between plural and possessive.
“Apostrophes are an important part of our language and I like to see them used,” Wood said Sunday.