It turns out television journalists spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to pronounce unfamiliar names and towns. Today’s pronunciation conundrum: Maljamar, New Mexico, the town the President is visiting on the second stop of his two-day four-state energy policy tour.
A trick one learns after they’ve been in this business about 5 or 6 days is to just call the town city hall or chamber of commerce for a pronouncer. In the case of a town like Maljamar, NM which doesn’t appear to have any of those things, I rang the local post office.
The way this conversation usually goes is the person on the other end picks up, the journalist explains that they’d like some help pronouncing the name of the town, the journalist thanks the person and that’s the end of the conversation. But today, the Maljamar USPS phone was manned by 71-year-old Druella Wilbanks who has lived in Maljamar all her life.
Mrs. Wilbanks had a little more to say than just a pronouncer. She said President Obama’s visit is the “biggest event” in Maljamar in her lifetime and she wasn’t able to get a ticket. “My family, we’re all Democrats,” she said even while lamenting the fact that her husband will get to see President Obama because he works for the local Fire Department but couldn’t get her into the event.
I asked Mrs. Wilbanks, the lifelong Democrat, how she thought the President was doing at his job? “I think he’s trying,” was the best she could muster. She said she had friends urging her to vote Republican but that her family rolling over in their graves would cause the earth to shake if she pulled the lever for the GOP.
As for gas prices, she said, “Something’s got to be done.” A sentiment most would agree with.
And if the White House is reading this and wanted to stop by the post office, Mrs. Wilbanks could tell you a little history about the town you’re in and the significance of the name Maljamar. According to her, the town was named after the children of William Mitchell who helped drill the first productive oil well in the area. His kids names were MALcolm, JAnet and MARgaret. He combined their names and got Maljamar, which is pronounced: MAL-juh-mar.