Loose Ends: Namesakes

There are plenty of small towns whose namesake dates back to the town’s origin, passed down from the pioneer settlers and their descendants. A small town in Alabama sports an unusual twist to that tradition. Phil Campbell, Ala., bears both the first and last name of a local pioneer.
Recently, Phil Campbell, population 1,100, became the focus of several news stories after a tornado swept through the community, killing 26 residents.
Help came from all around but perhaps the most unexpected was the offer of help from Phil Campbells across the country. Their shared name was the only thing they had in common, although they might have had knowledge of the community from one or two brief visits for a Phil Campbell community reunion.
Campbellism could become the next watchword for community involvement. People who have no discernable link to a community and receive no monetary or social gain for their efforts would be Campbellites.
The national media had a heyday with the story.  Many other small communities recovering from natural disasters might have wished for community aid workers like the town’s namesakes. Ponder the possibilities of help for a community such as ours (in the case of a natural disaster). A reunion of Nathan Meekers would be quite an unlikely gathering. Discerning the demographic would be essential and a nationwide search for all the individuals bearing the first and last name of Nathan Meeker would have to be conducted.
Most rural communities take pride in the fact that local folks pull together in times of trouble. It is tied into the community credos of “making it on their own” and “pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps.”  The lesson from each and every Phil Campbell who came to the aid of the town of Phil Campbell, Ala., is that humble and humane offer of help without stopping to think much about it.