Once I get past the perennial question, "Where's Salemtown?" the next question I tend to hear is, "How did Salemtown get its name?"
I have yet to be able to track down an authority on the answer to the second question, although I have heard a couple of legends that I cannot disprove. My favorite is a story S-townWife related to me from a conversation she and our next door neighbor had with a life-long neighborhood resident at a local yard sale.
Upon hearing of the fellow's life-long status, our neighbor asked him why the place was called "Salemtown."
"I don't really know," he replied in a gravelly voice. "I'll tell ya why I think it's called 'Salemtown': this used to be where the workers lived. See, the Germans came here an' owned the slaughterhouses for the cattle an' this is where all'a their workers lived an' this was the part'a town where they would drink an' smoke an' gamble. This was one'a the only areas where you could buy cigarettes an' jus-bout everybody smoked Salems back then. I think it got called 'Salemtown' because'a that."
S-townWife said to him, "That was not exactly what I was expecting for an answer, but it was more colorful anyway. I'll bet you've got lots of stories like that."
The fellow chuckled and said, "Well, my buddy an' me are prob'ly the only ones who could tell the stories. We're the only ones left who've lived here all'a our lives. We both lived in 'bout 5 diff'rent places in Salemtown. I remember as a lil' boy, my Daddy worked at the Werthan Fact'ry. Yeah, you could hear the hum o' that plant 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They had 3 shifts an' they never stopped. When I got old 'nuff I even worked there."
"You did? You mean you didn't have enough of it from your dad?"
He responded, "I worked there long 'nuff to draw a paycheck ... 1 week." His small audience laughed.
Our neighbor saw her opening and said, "Well, maybe you would like to help us and join our neighborhood association."
He effectively deflected her invitation. "No," he said, "I've never been one much for gangs. I'm kinduva lone wolf."
And with that our "gang" lost a recruitment opportunity, but gained a story about the naming of Salemtown.