SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Ketchikanites, Ketchikanians, Rainbirds, Wet Heads?
By Dave Kiffer


June 17, 2006

Ketchikan, Alaska - A while back I was at a gathering and someone stood up and addressed the group as "my fellow Ketchikanites."

When he said "Ketchikanites" it sounded - due to all those k's and t's - like a furball being coughed up.

That got me thinking. Is there a better way to describe the collective noun that is us? What do you call a group of local residents?

The only other name that comes to mind would be "Ketchikaners" and that doesn't sound a whole lot better. I suppose you could also try "Ketchikanians" but doesn't seem to work very well either.

What do you think?

Once a upon a time, another local writer suggested calling all locals "Rainbirds" but that sounds too much like "snowbirds" and if we all migrated south to avoid the rain we'd never be able to come back. But I digress.

Maybe a better name would be a nod to for the fans of the Grateful Dead. We could call ourselves "Wet Heads" Then again, maybe not.

One of my cousins, who often affected a fake drawl because she lived in South Seattle, once summed it up pretty well with "Y'awl are just a bunch of fish up there."

Naturally all this cogitation got me to thinking about other collective nouns for things.

One of my favorite ones is a "Parliament of Ravens."

This shows a sharp political wit because a group of ravens speaking does sound like Parliament (or Congress) in session, especially during the weekly "Prime Minister's Questions."

I once heard a group of children referred to a "giggle" and that also appropriately descriptive. Most teachers recognize that one.

A friend - obviously male - once referred to his wife's knitting club as a "gossip" of women. Not surprisingly, they are now divorced.

I once told an attorney friend that we should call a group of lawyers a "lie". She was not amused. She responded that a group of politicians should be called a "prevarication".

I was having lunch with a friend in Boston many eons ago and she noted that we were surrounded by an "absence" of waiters.

Just now it occurred to me that I could honor both my wife and one of her favorite books with a "Charlotte" of 'web'sites! Cool!

Personally, I have perpeptually - and pleasantly - pondered the possible psuedonyms for people in the political process. For example, a "waffle" of spokesmen.

Or a "nitpick" of columnists.

Or a "wonk" of consultants.

Or an "snap" of photographers.

Or a "slander" of journalists.(technically that should be a "libel", but it doesn't sound as good)

Come to think of a "slander" of commentators works pretty well too!

Along those lines, I can't resist using a joke that came to me several years ago but I'm sure it is as old as the halls of Congress.

How do you summon a politician?

"Will the defendant please rise!"

Anyway, a few years ago, I was amused by the fact that during the Blueberry Festival a group of political booths were down in the darkest reaches of the State Office Building basement, clearly where the sun did not shine.

It got be thinking that politics and mushrooms both grew better in the dark and that the conclusion should be that a collection of politicos should be called a "fester of politicians."

Which brings us back to the original intent of this treatise, to come up with name for a group of Ketchikan residents. Perhaps there is a way to merge the political with the personal.

Perhaps, we can tie the two together by the using the only substance that appears to be holding Schoenbar Middle School together. The name also celebrates our wonderful climate and says all you need to know about living long-term in a wet isolated community.

I vote that any time a group of Ketchikan residents gathers together it should be called a "mold."


Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2006

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