Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cow Town

My wife grew up in a place called Vacaville, California. It's about halfway between Sacramento and San Francisco.

For several years, I always got the same response when I would tell people where my wife was from. They would always smile and say "Cow Town". I thought they must have known something about the history of Vacaville that I didn't. Sure, I'd seen some cows in the countryside around the area where my wife grew up. But not that many cows. I figured maybe that was some sort of California in-joke, or something about the history of the place that I was unaware of. Or maybe they considered it some sort of hick town.

One day I mentioned something about Vacaville to one of my coworkers and he said "Cow Town," so I asked him if he was familiar with the place. "No, never heard of it before," he said.

"Well then how did you know it's called Cow Town?" I asked.

"In Spanish, 'vaca' means 'cow'. So 'vaca ville' would be 'cow town'."

Ah, mystery solved. At least, the mystery of why everyone would say that when I mentioned Vacaville. But it turns out that the place is actually named for a guy named Juan Manuel Vaca, not for the cows.

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