Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the last few decades, you’ve probably heard of the slew of oddly named Pennsylvania towns in or around Lancaster County.
There’s a story about a traveler who is looking to Mount Joy in Intercourse, but she already left to find Fertility and Lickdale. The traveler goes off to try his luck in Virginville but gets lost and ends up in Blue Ball, only to find Climax in Bird-In-Hand.
Ok. Not my story, but too good not to steal―and that’s not the only thing stolen.
Generations of feeble pranksters have been coveting and carting away those infamous town limits signs of Intercourse, Pennsylvania (that was me 20 years ago) as well as some other towns with knee-slapping names. The fact that Intercourse is in the heart of zipperless Amish country, and the generally conservative, pious Amish apparently are unbothered by the name, makes it more ironic and that much more amusing. The locals even got in on the joke, producing a postcard of the Intercourse sign, with an Amish buggy airbrushed in the background, reprinted for many decades. (Damn Capitalists!)
Laugh, world. Laugh at our funny town name. The joke is on you!
All churlish quips aside, let us dispense with the part of the story that has droves of tourists by the busload making a beeline for Intercourse, Blue Ball, Bird-in-hand, and if they’re lucky…Climax. Of course there are other stranger sounding towns: Coldplay (synonym for foreplay?), Lickingville, Pleasureville, Puseyville, Rough & Ready, Standard Shaft, (really bad porn) Black Lick, Two Lick (don’t want to know), Virginville (not with the way those Amish women are pumping out babies), Balls Mills, Gringo (the only town populated exclusively by Mexicans) and Hosensuck……Jesus…that was a mouthful!
You’ve got to wonder what the hell they were thinking when they named these sexually-suggestive sounding towns. Was it pent-up lust? Repressed sexuality? Are the Pennsylvania Dutch a religious group of horndogs?
So let’s clear this up right now. Intercourse, PA has nothing to do with intercourse. (*giggle, snicker, smirk*) so get your minds out of the gutter. There is nothing dirty about this wholesome town, population just under 5,000. In fact, it offers a historic Old World sort of charm―the kind you and your family would actually want to flock to. Even as my own curiosity gets the best of me, and I venture out on a five mile walk to Intercourse, I am reminded instantly of Harrison Ford in “Witness,” (my first introduction to Intercourse…the town silly) and the various scenes filmed in and around this quaint little village. Okay, I admit I let out a few chuckles as I entered the town.
So how did it get named THAT really?
A few theories. The town was named after a “noted old Tavern stand,” according to a sign, and not for sexual activity. Some say Intercourse got its name from an old race track on Old Philadelphia Pike called Entercourse (pre-spellcheck days), which later evolved into Intercourse. (how convenient)
Another theory pertains to the use of language in the early days of the village, in which the term “intercourse” was used to describe social interaction, fellowship, and friendship in small rural towns (close friendship…I’ll say!)
Regardless, it doesn’t get much more wholesome than the village of Intercourse, right? (*giggle, snicker, smirk*)
One of the biggest giggle provokers comes from the popular Intercourse Pretzel Factory with a wood-carved sign that boasts “Soft, Stuffed & Hard” Intercourse pretzels. Of course, most find that hilarious, as well as the “Welcome to Intercourse” sign. How many men have thought they were entering that very town after they got married only to find it was a one-way-trip to Blue Ball, PA down the road, but I digress.
A good thing the towns are close by.
The sign thefts are another matter and have precipitated some tough Intercourse love. The town, from what I hear, no longer posts these “Welcome to Intercourse” signs, although I did find them on both east and west approaches—the mounting post now a solid metal, anchored in concrete. (Ha! They’ve really shown us hoodlums!) And although Intercourse and Blue Ball, PA often get attention for obvious reasons, it has got to be better than living in Spread Eagle, Wisconsin, a city that albeit tough on crime, must leave you feeling invaded.
Next stop…Climax, PA.