Mr. Gottwald, I don’t understand.

Mike Chinooga puts his hand down. I live on White Oak Road. Am I supposed to find out about oak trees?

Sort of, Mr. Gottwald says with a small smile. What we’re investigating, Michael, is what’s behind the name. Your street could have been White Pine, or Dead Oak, or Development Lot 19. Why White Oak?

Closer to 79, Brad Livingston snickers from the second row. Everyone laughs.

Mr. Gottwald pushes off his desk. The big gray puff on the center of his head bounces a little. And you, Bradford, what street do the Livingston Clan claim?

I don’t want to embarrass everyone, Mr. G..

Mr. Gottwald smiles again. Well, you’ll be telling the whole class in a month. And if you keep the lip, you can also give us a ten-minute progress report in two weeks.

Brad bunches his upper lip. I live on Albion Road. In an old house in an old neighborhood, almost a mile from Development Lot 19.

Thank you, Bradford. Do you know what Albion refers to?

I always just thought it was a cool name, sir.

England. Scotland, specifically. From “Alba” in Gaelic; Anglicized as Albany. You see? Names contain worlds. Bradford lives on a very old street indeed, if it was named by early settlers. And, he looks at the rest of us. Mr. Livingston also enjoys the distinction of sharing a name with one of our great town’s historians, Gamaliel Bradford. How many of you know Mr. Bradford’s name?

No one raises their hand.

Mr. Gottwald looks sad and confused. Brad looks proud and bored. I don’t really pay attention to the rest of class. I must look out the window too much, because on my way out Mr. Gottwald calls me to his desk. I rest my books on the edge. He raises his eyebrows.

You don’t live on a street?

Sort of, Mr. G.. I live off DL 136.

You do?

I stare at him.

He forces a laugh. So what’s the problem?

I live on Magos Avenue.

Ah, wonderful! The magician street!

Uhm, no, sir. Magos. Not magus.

Really? He pulls a giant book out of his desk, opens to the back, and scans a map of Wellesley Hills. All these years. I’ll be damned.

I stare at him.

Looks like you’re going to have the most interesting presentation in the class, my dear. He closes the book. For me, at least.

I can’t keep staring at him, so I look out the window again.

But… where do I start? I mean, what’s a magos?

Added: May 1, 2014 | Last changed: January 25, 2015