sorabji.com: Words: poteet!

By droopy on Friday, August 26, 2005 - 12:32 am:

    the ongoing renovation of the suite next door to the shop i work in has started up again. right now a plumbing company is in there - poteet plumbing co. every day i see their van with the name emlazoned on the side in blue letters. now i can't get it out of my head.


    it's actually a pretty common name in texas. there are 28 poteets and 2 poteetes listed in the fort worth white pages. 9 more than my surname yields. the plumber pronounces it "poh-TEET". apparently it's of french origin, a corruption of either petit or pottet (according to one web site).


    there's actually a town in texas called poteet. it's 20 miles south of san antonio. the name comes from co-founder francis marion poteet, who in 1886 became the first postmaster general by running the post office out of his blacksmith shop. poteet is known as the "strawberry capitol" of texas. the poteet strawberry festival is one of the top ten festivals in the nation. according to roadsideamerica.com, "flat, dry" poteet has the 2nd, 3rd, & 4th largest replicas of strawberries in the world.


    if that wasn't fame enough for this small town, it became even more famous in the 1950's when milton caniff named one of the characters in his comic "steve canyon" after poteet. "poteet canyon" was steve's cousin (from texas). poteet - a young woman - was apparently attracted to steve, despite the family relation. by the 70's, poteet was written into what many thought were an inordinately large number of kidnapping (bondage) story lines. i haven't been able to find out how ohio-born caniff even heard of poteet, texas. though some say it may have to do with his love for texas-born comic artist roy crane, whose "wash tubbs" and "captain easy" comics were the first true adventure comics. (there is also the "poteet/petite" thing.)

    sweet 'n poteet!

    i feel certain that somewhere in texas, someone pronounces it "POE-teet". that's how i heard it in my head when i first saw it on the plumber's van. i like it. it sort of sounds like the beginning of some old west texas saying - "it's a po' teat thet gives no milk!"


By TBone on Friday, August 26, 2005 - 12:44 pm:

    We've got Poteet around here too. Whenever I see it, I find the word resurfacing in my mind several times throught the remaining day.

    You know, I bet that's the reason it's so big now.

By droopy on Friday, August 26, 2005 - 03:03 pm:

    could be. don't you live in montana? it's hard for me to imagine that name spoken in anything but a southern accent.

    another interesting name i've come across in my travels: worthy slutz. that was the name written down on a piece of paper given to me when i was trying to track down a jazz album. the long version turned out to be j. worthington slutz, the pronounciation "slootz(rhymes with boots)".

    i should find a nice poteet girl for him. the poteet-slutz wedding.

By droop on Friday, August 26, 2005 - 03:15 pm:

    (just so people know - it do know it's spelled "pronunciation")

By droopy on Saturday, August 27, 2005 - 12:31 am:


    he's this guy who comes to the shop maybe once a month to sweep our sidewalk. he's maybe in his late 50's, early 60's - short, portly but not especially fat. when i first met him it was just me at the shop. he walked in with a broom in one hand and a long-handled dust pan in the other and said he would sweep the sidewalk in front of the shop for $5. he claimed he did that for a lot of the businesses on bluebonnet circle. he had a simple quality, and i could part with five bucks no problem, to i told him to have at. i watched him through the window - he took his job seriously. he'd sweep, then stop and look around, then sweep some more, then get on his hands and knees like a golfer checking the lie of the grass before a putt, sweep a little more.

    when he was finished he came in holding some piece of metal he'd found. he said, "do you see this? i found it out at the edge of the street. it makes me so happy when i find something like this. something like this could get caught in a cars tire." he seemed to be sincerely proud. i gave him his $5 and he walked over to a corner of the shop and stared at some old box cameras we had for several minutes before leaving.

    i found out that most of the people on the circle really did let him sweep their sidewalk. nobody really knows his story, though. sometimes he seems mildly retarded, or possibly autistic. other times he seems pretty lucid. but he does a good job and seems honest enough.

    one day he gave everybody on the circle little poems - basically short little non-rhyming lines about friendship or love or something like that. he convinced my boss to sell them in our shop, and a few people actually bought them.

    he was in today. it was about 102 today, and he looked exhausted after he swept the sidewalk. after i paid him, we started talking. he jumped around on different topics, but one of them was about queen anne (queen of great britain and ireland 1707-1714). he'd read parts of a book about her and really respected her. he also told me his hobby was doing math, just sitting a a table and doing equations on a piece of paper.

    he talked quickly, stumbling around with his words and often seemed at a loss at how to express what he wanted to say. finally he said, "you know, really i'm an introvert. i guess it doesn't seem so now, but if you somebody who knew me when i was younger....you could introduce me to a group of 4, 5, 6, people and i'd just say 'hi' and not say anything else. just stand back and listen, i like to just listen. but i like to talk to you, you're good to talk to." with that he said good-bye, picked up his broom and dust pan and left.


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