Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The "Mid-South"

(I'll get to Colorado eventually. Turns out I actually had quite a lot to write about from our one day in Memphis.)

Lots of businesses throughout the Memphis area use the term "Mid-South". As in, "Mid-South Plumbing", the "Mid-South Coliseum", the "Mid-South Ice House" (home to, one would assume, the "Mid-South Curling Club"), or via their slogans, e.g. "Best [whatever] in the Mid-South!"

So, that begs the question...what is the Mid-South? Is it like the "Midwest", which no fewer than 12 states (to varying degrees) claim to be part of? Not even close. From what I can gather, only Memphis claims the term "Mid-South". So, basically, "Mid-South" means "the Memphis metropolitan area". And, in the same way that nobody outside of Northeast Florida ever uses the term "First Coast", nobody outside Memphis ever uses the term "Mid-South".

Why not just call it "Greater Memphis", "Metro Memphis", or something else that wouldn't imply a much larger area than just one city plus its suburbs? Well, I think Memphis just wants to feel like it's in the middle of something. Memphis is kind of its own thing. While nearby Jackson, Tennessee says that it's in "West Tennessee", you don't see the term "West Tennessee" floated around in Memphis. "Jackson? No, we're not like them. We're not West Tennessee. We're Memphis." Memphis may like to think that the "Mid-South" is a large area which they are at the center of - and it's questionable whether Memphis really is in the "middle" of the "South" - but, nope, it's just you guys. You made it up. Sorry.

Memphis isn't alone. This need to be in the "middle" of something big is pretty widespread, and "Mid-South" is only the start. As we drove from Memphis to Wichita, the names of local businesses changed from Mid-South, to Mid-America, to Mid-Continent. Does Middle Earth come next?

But hey, at least they don't call the Memphis area the "Tri-State".

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