In the wake of World War II, young veteran Cleo Fitterling returned home, wondering how he was going to make a living. Drawn to farming, he enrolled at a local college and began taking classes in agriculture, later buying acreage southeast of Kansas City. But what name should he give this ornery stretch of land he began to tame? The work was endless but rewarding. It was costly. As the realities of the toil swiftly struck, Fitterling registered his dark-humored choice: He called it Mounting Debt Farm.
And so it remained for many years, even as Fitterling began to make a solid living, says his daughter, Bonnie Fitterling Braun, who now farms with her husband in Fairfield, Pa. Mounting Debt was long ago sold, the name changed.
That’s the thing about names. Sociologists believe that we christen people, places, and things in hopes that they remain eternal. But names reflect…
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