The Prime Meridian
So, Michael Raimondo proposes to rename Minaret Road in honor of our local icon. Great idea, wrong road. The problem is, Minaret is an ideal name for the road that leads from our town to a spectacular view of the multi-spired Minarets in the Ritter Range of the High Sierra. That skyline is perhaps the dominant feature that distinguishes Mammoth from other mountain communities across the West. There are, however, a couple of streets here that do need renaming.
Back in the late ‘70s, or whenever it was that Meridian Boulevard and Azimuth Drive were cut through the forest, we probably mocked the folly of paving the wide swath that went from nowhere to nowhere. Safeway had yet to move from the Gateway Center, and Chair 15 was still on the drawing board. As local high school kids, we were fairly ignorant of development issues in town, but the County apparently knew what it was doing as both Meridian and Azimuth are now critical throughways in the Town. What they didn’t know back then was what to call these roads, so they gave them the generic names of Meridian Boulevard and Azimuth Drive, believing that more creative minds would agree on more appropriate names at the proper time.
Unfortunately, creative minds seem to lack. Here we are in one of the most spectacular, diverse, and unique places on earth, and we can’t seem to find names to match our setting. How about Sierra Star Street? Well, that could be anywhere along the 300-mile long length of the Sierra Nevada. Little Eagle Lane? No, we’re not really known for the eagles soaring overhead. How about Da Village Vay? It’s got a nice little German touch perhaps reminiscent of the Alps, but the “Village” could be absolutely anywhere!
A good name of a street, a development, or a mountain, has some relevance to its place, its history, or an honorable character. Apt street names are found in the ghetto: Manzanita, Mono, Lupin and Joaquin. Old Mammoth has some good ones too: Tamarack, Evergreen, Red Fir, and Cliff Circle. But does anyone remember Crawford, Garret, Dorrance, or a Mr. Glasscock? We’ve really missed the most important people in the development of Mammoth; people who were here when the “experts” said it couldn’t be done: too much snow, too hard to get to; people who remain here today, and who were truly motivated by their love of this remarkable area. Guinn Davison built a chairlift that didn’t run much before they tore it down and he got a street named after him. Kelly took the money and ran. Rusty even has a Lane! Dave and Roma McCoy have built some fifty ski lifts over the years, most of which are still running, and they don’t even get a street?! It‘s time to rename Meridian Boulevard and Azimuth Drive, and I propose Dave’s Drive and Roma’s Road.
Dave has lived a truly remarkable life. Abandoned by his parents at the age of 13, forced to live with unknown grandparents in a grimy coal-mining town in wet Western Washington, and graduated from high school in the heart of the Great Depression, Dave had every excuse to become a loser. But he was inspired by a childhood visit to Independence. His pal’s brother-in-law taught him the basics of the nascent sport of downhill skiing, and the high summer snowfields visible from the parched floor of the Owens Valley called him back to the Eastern Sierra. He met his best friend in Bishop, a fun-loving local gal who had a passion for dance but who was soon converted to the rhythm of skiing. Together, powered by a desire to have fun and share that fun with anyone else who felt the draw of skiing, they built the greatest ski mountain in the world.
Meridian is absolutely the best place in town to honor Dave. Dave’s name would be the first thing visitors see as they approach. It would pass between the College, which would not exist but for Dave’s drive to bring higher education to the region, and our public schools, which Dave has always strongly supported with a variety of generous programs including free ski passes for the racers and nominally priced lift tickets for any other student. The road then leads to the base of the ski mountain that he built. Roma’s Road would anchor the midpoint of Dave’s Drive onto the side of Mammoth Mountain. Perfect!
Dave is so humble, he would never approve of the idea. I imagine that “McCoy Station” embarrasses him as he has always corrected those who respectfully address him as “Mr. McCoy,” and insisted on being called Dave. Where’s the ring in “McCoy Sports?” Besides, McCoy isn’t even the real family name, as Dave’s father changed his name when he arrived in the promised land of California. Well, the marketing geniuses have collected their big salaries coming up with Sierra Star, The Mill, McCoy Station, and The Village, but this one’s free: Dave’s Drive and Roma’s Road. Let’s get rid of those nonsensical, generic street names and properly honor the only people who have made such a grand life for all of us here in Mammoth.