Cowtown: (n) a small town, especially one in a cattle-raising district in the western U.S.
As a boy growing up in Ohio, the pecking order was very obvious.
Cleveland was a city that was so metropolitan that it had pollution. Nobody talked much about Cleveland—it didn’t even really seem like it was part of Ohio. It was more like a piece of New York City, stuck up next to Lake Erie.
So for the people of Cleveland, coming down to Columbus was journeying to a Cowtown.
Now, to the folks in Columbus, there was a city just to the north, which was smaller and perceived itself to be intellectual. But for those who lived in the Capital, it was their Cowtown.
Westerville. Westerville looked ten miles to its north to find a village that was mostly farmers and a few people who commuted to the capital city for employment, called Sunbury, and considered it a Cowtown.
That was the Cowtown I lived in.
But Sunbury wasn’t going to put up with that, so we decided to pick on a little town called Centerburg, which we believed had barely emerged from the caves to discover fire.
Centerburg was our Cowtown.
Now, poor Centerburg had trouble. It needed some community to be its Cowtown, but most of the areas around them were the same size. So because a nearby burg, Johnstown, had an occasional murder, Centerburg decided to make it Cowtown.
Just outside Johnstown was a little spot in the road that had a couple of antique shops and a bait store.
Alexandria. It was the Cowtown of all Ohio Cowtowns.
The goal, I assume, was to make sure that even though you were going to be overwhelmed and disregarded by some larger metropolis, there had to be a less robust region that you could feel free to look down on due to their lack of sophistication.
Now, I thought it was something that just went on in Ohio, until many years later, I was sitting in a restaurant in Manhattan of New York City, and heard a waiter refer to Philadelphia as a Cowtown.