I spent most of my life as a child living in South Paris, Maine on a street that changed its name sometime between when I went to college and today. Ever since I noticed the change, I've wondered why. Well now I have the answer.

I grew up on Nichols Street in South Paris. It was a great place to be a kid where doors were never locked, we played outside until well after dark and everyone knew each other.

Townsquare Media

 

The house I grew up in was at 36 Nichols Street, a three bedroom home that I loved living in. It's changed a lot since I was there, mostly just colors and repairs as well as an addition in the back. It's listed as having 1 1/2 bathrooms now. We only had one as kid.

 

Townsquare Media

 

All my life we called this street Nichols Street, with an 's' on the end. Then one day I drove by my old street and saw the street sign had changed.

 

Mark Smith

 

What? It's not Nichol, it's Nichols! All our mail was addressed to 36 Nichols Street. Even my drivers license said Nichols Street.

 

What happened?

I'd wondered this for years until I brought it up one day on the air. I said I should stop into the Paris town office to ask what the reason for the change was. Lucky for me, someone else did it for me.

Beacher Cyr called and asked after hearing my concern and the clerk who answered the phone didn't know, but said they would ask and get back to him. He's not even from South Paris!

The town clerk called him back and told him that she looked into it and they dropped the "s" back when the fire department changed to the enhanced 911 system. They did it to the streets that could drop the "s" to help clean up the system.

Clean up the system? Is it because the old name ended in 's' and street starts with an 's?' Would that be too confusing to the 911 system? There isn't a Nichols and Nichol street in South Paris, so what's to confuse?

To make matters worse, I found tax assessment maps for the Town of Paris that show the name as Nichol and the latest update to the maps shows as 1978!

Town of Paris
Town of Paris

 

Were we wrong all these years and the street we lived on was actually named Nichol with no 's?' For now, it still remains a mystery.