Could You Name This Place or Person?

by Andy Rooney


I don't know how many people are as dumb -- or as smart -- as I am, but when I look at the newspaper every day I seldom recognize many of the people whose pictures are in it.

There's usually someone I know, but most of the people are strangers. The President is pictured quite often. We all recognize him. We've seen him in a thousand different settings and he always looks good, but who are these other people? They must be famous for something they've done -- but not to me.

Nancy Pelosi's picture has been in the paper a lot recently as Speaker of the House, yet most people wouldn't recognize Nancy if she walked into their living room. I'm getting to know what she looks like, but to tell you the truth, I don't know what the Speak of the House "speaks" about.

Ten to one you don't recognize New Mexico's much-photographed governor with a very average name: Bill Richardson.

Ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich -- however you pronounce it -- had his picture in the paper a lot a number of months ago. But how many people in Illinois even know how to spell "B-L-A-G-O-J-E-V-I-C-H"? When people need to write his name, they must have to look it up or just refer to him as "the Governor."

When I was a little boy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was governor of my state, New York. His name was unusual at the time, but "Roosevelt" seems common and easy to spell today. We don't all like it but we all know how to spell it. I wonder if "Washington" was ever considered hard to spell? It's hard to understand but we know how to spell it.

I suppose our capital might have been called "Lincoln" rather than "Washington," in which case we would refer to it now as "Lincoln, D.C." The city was once called "The District of Columbia," but later became commonly known as "Washington, D.C." It could very well have been named simply "Columbia."

The names of some other cities don't seem to fit. I won't mention the ones I don't think are right because I don't want to make a lot of people mad.

The largest city in the United States is, of course, New York. It's more than twice as big as Los Angeles and more than three times as big as Chicago. I live in New York and like it. Because it's so big, it has everything. I don't think anyplace in the world can match New York, although I like the sound of the names Shanghai, Bombay and London. I've been to Chicago often. It's a nice little city. I've been to almost every city in this country, although I don't recall ever being in Minneapolis or El Paso. Maybe I was there and forgot.

I once took a helicopter across the country and we stopped just about everywhere. A car followed along, and at night the driver picked us up at the airport and we went to a hotel or motel and had dinner at what they told us was the best restaurant in town. Sometimes I felt sorry for the town if that was its best.

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