Friday, October 21, 2005

All hail the Hick from French Lick

Boston Celtics' legend Larry Bird, French Lick, Indiana, has a loyal fan base, both in Massachusetts and in Indiana; also, apparently, in Oklahoma.

Attorneys for Eric James Torpy and Oklahoma City prosecutors had reached a plea agreement on charges of shooting with an intent to kill and robbery. Torpy's lawyers agreed to a 30 year sentence. Torpy was not happy. He insisted on 33 years to match Bird's now-retired Celtic jersey number. According to Oklahoma County District Judge Ray Elliott,
He said if he was going to go down, he was going to go down in Larry Bird's jersey. We accommodated his request and he was just as happy as he could be.

I've never seen anything like this in 26 years in the courthouse. But, I know the DA is happy about it.
I'm sure, before long, Torpy will wish that Bird's jersey number had been
"2 to 5".

Now, you may be wondering how a town in Indiana, or anywhere for that matter, gets a name like French Lick. Buckle up because here comes your history lesson for the day. Contrary to recent rumors, it has nothing to do with Frenchmen licking anybody else or anybody else licking Frenchmen -- or Frenchwomen. Throughout the eastern woodlands, which at one time stretched from the Atlantic coast to just west of Chicago and from Maine to the Florida Keys, the Indians, the woodland animals such as deer and the now extinct woodland bison and later the European explorers and colonial pioneers highly valued natural salt deposits. These salt deposits filled two requirements. First, and most obvious, as a source of salt. Secondly, these natural deposits attracted wildlife making it easier for the hunters to get them. These salt deposits were called "salt licks" because animals, naturally, gathered there to lick the salt.

The natural salt deposits were so critical to the survival of the various people and groups that found them that the locations of the salt licks were carefully described and handed down through the generations of Indians and later mapped by the Europeans. The Europeans and colonial pioneers, like Boone et al, frequently named the salt licks after their "discoverers". It was French explorers, such as Jacques Cartier and Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, who explored and mapped much of the upper Midwest and "discovered" the salt lick in Larry Bird's neck of the woods in southern Indiana; hence, French Lick. Brigham Young discovered the biggest and most famous salt deposit in North America, hence, the Great Salt Lick and Salt Lick City (heh, heh).

Mark in Mexico's tribute to Larry Bird - which involves considerably less effort than 33 years in an Oklahoma state penitentiary.

Larry Bird Jersey

Larry Bird Montage

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