Hilda, a woman I once knew, prided herself on having visited all the capital cities of the 48 contiguous US states. She explained she'd never visited the capitol buildings themselves because she had a fear of government, technically known as “taxaphobia,” but she had at least entered the cities and patronized a McDonald’s or Pizza Hut located there.
During our discussion of her journeys, she pointed out that two state capitals, Columbia, South Carolina and Columbus, Ohio were named for the Italian explorer who discovered the “New World,” Christopher something or another.
Three capital cities, she noted, are French--Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Des Moines, Iowa and Pierre, South Dakota. However, she added, she found no one who understood French in Des Moines and no one who didn’t refer to Pierre as “Peer” in South Dakota.
Hilda went on to explain that the two Spanish-named capitals of Sacramento, California and Santa Fe, New Mexico are Christian names along with St. Paul, Minnesota.
Helena, Montana and Augusta, Maine are named for women, Hilda told me.
Jackson, Mississippi, Jefferson City, Missouri, Madison, Wisconsin, and Lincoln, Nebraska are named for US presidents, but Denver, Colorado, Hilda pointed out, was named after John Denver, the famous country-rock singer of the 60’s and 70’s.
That Denver remark caught my attention as my mind had begun to drift off during her dissertation.
Colorado’s capital city was named for a man who didn’t even exist when Colorado became a state? What was next? Was she going to tell me Mayberry was the capital of North Carolina?
Hilda said her favorite state capital of all was Chicago, Illinois. She loved Lake Shore Drive, the Museum of Science and Industry, Wrigley Field, the Art Institute, State Street, the Sears Tower and McCormick Place. She said she loved to spend the day meandering through the Lincoln Park Zoo from the hour it opened until the minute it closed.
Hilda’s favorite part of her visit to the Windy City was a cruise on Lake Michigan after sunset. The city was alive with lights flickering, flashing and bouncing off the waves of the Great Lake. She sighed as she reflected on her fond memories.
“That sounds lovely,” I responded to Hilda’s Chicago travelogue, “but I’m afraid the capital of Illinois is Springfield.”
Highly insulted by my correcting her, Hilda’s temper flared. “Have you visited all the state capitals, Mrs. Know-It-All?”
I shook my head. After all I had never even visited my own state capital. I’m taxaphobic too.
“Then don’t try to tell me Chicago is not the capital of Illinois,” Hilda replied smugly. “Chicago is just as much the capital of Illinois as Spokane is the capital of Oregon and Albany is the capital of New Jersey and Montpelier is the capital of New Hampshire and Bangor is the capital of Massachusetts.”
It seemed there was no arguing with a woman as astute as Hilda was. I simply shrugged and issued a smile. “When you’re right," I said, "you’re right.”
I hope your Easter is a wonderful one.
Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author