by Rick Winterson
Last Friday, there was an interesting article in The Wall Street Journal (still America’s best newspaper). And it was on the front page, yet. Entitled “Come to Our Stores – They’re Absolutely Not in a Mall”, this article described a new trend in America, a trend away from calling shopping centers “Malls”. In a spectacular display of poor English, the article quoted one marketeer as saying, “This Mall needed to de-mall.” Sigh-h-h!
But bad English aside, the term “Mall” is derived from “pall-mall”, an urban game that was played 400 years ago in alleyways with a small wooden ball, something like a muscle-bound version of croquet. Yes, “Mall” derives from the Queen’s English. But no, it’s not a word describing something modern or attractive or dignified.
The only mall near South Boston is South Bay, a strip mall that is almost always called just “South Bay” anyhow. With only two unfortunate exceptions of the word “village” – one of them almost 150 years old – South Boston is blessedly free of cutesie-poo jargon words that describe our landmarks and important points. Just a few “Squares” do the job for us. In fact, there isn’t even a Broadway Square at our Broadway Red Line station. It’s (sometimes) called “Lower Broadway”. More often, that area is referred to “near” or “next to” Broadway Station. Cool!
However, let’s use our imaginations for a moment. The word “Mall” is now out. “Square” is tired and old-fashioned. “Village” means a few one-room houses with thatched roofs on a cobblestone road. But “Crossing” stands for a key intersection, and what could be busier than the six roads making up Andrew Square? We think that John Albion Andrew, Massachusetts governor and ardent abolitionist, might welcome a change, since his “Square” has become a six-road hexagon. And the word “Circus” once meant “Circle” (as in “rotary”). And “Trivia” (seriously!) originally meant “Three Streets”.
So let’s try this trio of new names on for size: “Andrew’s Crossing”, “Broadway Circus”, and “Perkins Trivia”. Let us know what you think.