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Media Life: Idiot’s guide to Auburn, Placer terminology

By: Gus Thomson/Media Life
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Media Life would be remiss without mentioning the departure of the Auburn Journal’s longtime newsroom leader and guiding force,Deric Rothe. Rothe stepped down this month after 14 years with the Journal. This reporter will treasure the first few years of Rothe’s time with the paper as he made some difficult but ultimately successful changes – from design to editorial focus to a high-profile presence in the community. And this reporter looks back on Rothe’s last few years as a time when he helped “toughen up” coverage and push for pulling no punches on important stories that needed full public airing. Rothe also had a name that took a while for many readers and Auburn residents to get used to. Then again, one had to wonder whether – after more than a decade of mispronunciations – that some who continued to say it the wrong way were just finding a convenient approach to put someone in his place. This observer’s take over that same 14-year span? It never worked. He was and remains “Rothe” – like “both” – and then a long “ee” sound. Which leads Media Life to the subject du jour – all those unintentional gaffes and faux pas that a long-term local sometimes makes but, more importantly – gives away the presence of a newbie. Here’s a list of some of the grievous goofs that haunt everyday Auburn conversations: - It’s not Joeger Road. It’s Joerger Road. Stick an “R” in there when you say it. The North Auburn road is named after the Joerger family but the road name was improperly registered and never re-registered correctly. When you need unanimous approval of property owners on a road to change it, suffice to say, forget about it. - It’s pronounced Eekeda’s not Eye-keeda’s. The Ikeda family has had to whither generations of mispronunciations but the go-to Foresthill exit eatery for locals as well as people making the run up and down I-80 continues to prosper. - It’s the Sierra, not the Sierras. Sierra is a Spanish word meaning mountains so pluralizing what is already a noun for a group of mountains is redundant. - It’s officially Mountain Quarries Railroad Bridge. The bridge just south of the American River confluence is ready to mark its 100th anniversary. It was built as a railroad bridge to the limestone quarry that continues to be operated in Cool. The tracks were torn up in the 1940s to provide metal for the war effort. The horse community first started calling it No Hands Bridge but that’s not the official name. - It’s Taw-hoe not Ta-hoe. And you’re showing your out-of-state roots if you call a tah-co a tack-o. Or if you order pass-ta instead of paw-sta. - It’s the North Fork Dry Dam not the Clementine Dam. Lake Clementine – the upper and the lower – are the reservoirs for the dam but the structure itself was named for the fork of the American River it keeps silt and mine tailings from running further downstream from. - It’s the “Why” statue with no question mark. Dr. Kenneth Fox directed the absence of the question mark to keep the meaning of Auburn’s war memorial ambiguous. Built during the height of the Vietnam War in 1967, it was probably a good idea to keep make the meaning a trifle murky. - Speaking of “whys,” Placer County Supervisor Robert Weygandt has another one of those names that seems to get perennially butchered whenever he’s announced at a function outside his Lincoln-area district. It’s pronounced much the same way one would say “Why Rant.” That’s a good way to remember how to say the name of a politician who stays relatively unflappable during sometimes-heated board meetings. Fellow board members Jennifer Montgomery, Jim Holmes, Kirk Uhler and Jack Duran have it fairly easy, with names that it would be hard to mispronounce. It’s “Yew-ler” by the way, not “Oo-ler.” - It’s the American River but it’s really named after Canadians. The Native Americans at the time named it for the fur trappers coming into the region from British-held territory. - It’s Newcastle but it’s not named after England’s Newcastle. It’s actually a name that connotes the new “Castle.” The old Castle being a Gold Rush community nearby. Castle City mobilehome park is a living reminder of the name’s origin. - Foresthill Bridge is not the tallest bridge in California. It’s the highest. Bridges like the Golden Gate in San Francisco aren’t as high above the water but are taller because of their giant suspension support structures. - One of the more common miscues non-residents make from the get-go is on the word “Placer.” Instead of pronouncing it in the same way you would “passer,” they blurt out “Play-sir.” Media Life suspects that this list only scratches the surface – for many, nonetheless, it’s like the surface of a chalkboard being scraped by fingernails. But it’s part of life in the foothills and, like “Rothe” and other names that dare to be mispronounced, it’s part of being who we are, where we are. Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at (530) 852-0232 or gust@goldcountrymedia.com.