Potatoes, Poh-taht-os, tomatoes, toh-mah-tos…
I don’t remember when I first started calling this beautiful place “the” Carson Valley.
I think it was soon after I started covering Douglas County full-time, late in 1994.
I was working my first job out of college and trying to please several groups of relative strangers: my bosses, county officials, readers, story subjects.
I put a lot of thought into trying to fit in with those last three groups. In addition to being a rookie reporter, I was a newcomer in a community whose natives pride themselves on their nativity. As I sat through county commission meetings, I heard countless references to incidents, developments and other people I had never heard of, but were obviously common knowledge to anyone who had lived here any length of time. I also heard lots of snide comments directed at newcomers, and noticed many expressions of contempt for those unfamiliar enough with the community to have to ask who people were.
My strategy was to emulate the locals, or at least those who seemed to know what was going on and who was who. I listened carefully to what they said. And one of the things I noticed was that Carson Valley was often referred to as “the” Carson Valley. As in, this was “the” one and only Carson Valley, and as such deserved the distinction of being “the” Carson Valley.
So I started doing it, too.
There are many who disagree. A certain R-C staff writer, who will remain nameless, refuses to write “the” Carson Valley in referring to this place, and he marks any reference he finds to “the” Carson Valley with a little red X. I overrule this any time I am alert enough to notice it.
The staff writer is joined in his objections to “the” Carson Valley by at least one reader, Leola Tucker of Gardnerville. She is a fourth-generation Carson Valley resident, and she recently asked why The Record-Courier keeps referring to its main coverage area as “the” Carson Valley.
“If we go to Southern California, we don’t say we’re going to ‘the’ Southern California,” she pointed out.
Leola also said she’s reviewed old copies of The Record-Courier, and previous references to Carson Valley never included a “the.” She also asked a couple of other bona-fide Carson Valley old-timers, and they agreed. Carson Valley is a place, she contends, and needs no other modifiers.
“I feel very strongly about it,” said Tucker. “It’s always been called ‘Carson Valley,’ until this rapid growth took place.”
I don’t have a good answer for Leola or any of the others who want to know why I like my Carson Valley references to include “the,” other than that I like the way it sounds. Sort of important. Sort of proud. A subtle way of distinguishing this place from all the others.
I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to identify (the) Carson Valley. But I’d like to hear from you, the readers. E-mail your opinions to me. I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be anxiously awaiting your responses to this interesting debate about the Carson Valley.
n Christy Chalmers is news editor at The Record-Courier.