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A handful of streets have an odd distinction: Namely, their spelling


DANIEL BLOOM HAD SOME space to fill in his newspaper seven years ago. As the editor he assigned himself the job of writing a weekly humor column.

Atop the column he planted this byline: Leinad Moolb. That was his name spelled backward. Hardly anyone noticed.

"Six months later somebody asked me, 'Who's that wacky writer you've got at the paper?' " Bloom said. "I just answered, 'Oh, it's some guy we hired from California.' "

That column in the Capital City Weekly in Juneau, Alaska, was the seed that grew into Bloom's National Registry of Backward Names. The registry has several entries from Baltimore.

They are street names accumulated by James A. Genthner, who saw a blurb about Bloom's registry in a Washington paper. Genthner, a right-of-way agent for the state, had noticed the names on street maps of Baltimore and Baltimore County.

In Baltimore city there are Tunlaw, Nerak, Sekots and Rellim roads.

In the county there are Retlaw Road, Nacirema Lane, and Nairam and Reldas courts.

The names probably came from the developers of the subdivisions, said John McGrain, a local historian who works for the Baltimore County Planning Department.

"When they run out of British trees and British sounding names," McGrain said, "they start naming streets for their sons and daughters."

Carleton Jones, a Sun feature writer, explained the origin of two of the names in his new book, "Streetwise Baltimore: The stories behind Baltimore street names."

Rellim Road, near Cross Country Boulevard and Greenspring Avenue in northern Baltimore, is named for Hal A. Miller, an architect.

Nacirema Lane, off Greenspring Valley Road at Villa Julie College, is named for Gen. Felix Agnus' mansion, "Nacirema." Agnus, the influential 19th-century editor of the Baltimore American, built the mansion on a Greenspring Valley hilltop, according to Jones.

Jones also explains the origin of Kavon Avenue, which runs parallel to Belair Road in northeastern Baltimore.

Frank Novak, a proficient builder of houses in the early 20th century, forbade anyone to name a street after him. But a colleague, Glenn Smithson, pulled one over on Novak by naming a street Kavon, which, of course, is Novak spelled backward.

Daniel Bloom, or, if you prefer, Leinad Moolb, no longer works for the paper in Juneau, but still lives in Alaska. He is 41 and writes children's books for a living.

In a telephone interview, he said he got the idea for a National Registry of Backward Names one Sunday afternoon last fall when not much else was happening in Auke Bay. He wrote a one-page press release, exclaiming that "Leinad Moolb is looking for a few good names -- backward names," and sent it to radio stations.

A few called him for interviews. Listeners phoned in backward names and began sending them to Bloom in Alaska. A sampling:

* Frank Sinatra's spaghetti sauce is manufactured by Artanis.

* A street in Annapolis is named Silopanna.

* Oprah Winfrey's production company is Harpo Productions.

* A town in Texas was named Reklaw because there was already a Walker, Texas.

* A horse track in Omaha, Nebraska, is named Ak-sar-ben Racetrack.

* A vampire in one of Bela Lugosi's Dracula movies was Count Alucard.

* A non-chemical, anti-constipation medicine is called Serutan.

Bloom said about 1,000 people have sent him their names spelled backward. The best one, he said, is the backward spelling of Tim Rae: Ear Mit.

If you want your name entered backward in the registry, or know an interesting backward name, please write to Leinad Moolb, National Registry of Backward Names, P.O. Box 210555, Auke Bay, Alaska, 99821.

* As you have already figured, this was written by Tom Keyser.

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