Down in the far southern reaches of Illinois lives
, a small village of a little more than 1,000 people. And they love their fruit in Cobden.
There's a yearly peach festival, plenty of apple trees and a thriving agricultural industry. There's lots of history. And there's one of the nation's most unique high school mascot names: the Appleknockers.
Finding an explanation of what an Appleknocker is can lead you in many directions. It can be anything from a person who tests the quality of an apple, to an alcoholic drink to an adjective meaning rustic.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an apple-knocker is a noun that basically refers to a person who lives in a rural environment.
If you look at Dictionary.com, it adds that an appleknocker (no dash) is a farm laborer. Drinksmixer.com says that an appleknocker is a cocktail featuring apple cider, lemon juice and two liquors. In Flora, Ill., they have an Appleknocker festival each year.
While we can't find the exact definition, there is a quality resource on the website created to honor the Amazing Appleknockers of 1964
. According to the site, the "simplest definition" of an Appleknocker is "When crops of apples prove too big during the spring, workers used poles to knock some of the fruit off trees."
And there is another theory on the site: "Cobden resident Frank Petty, who was mayor when the high school basketball team wen to state in 1964, said the mascot's name dates back to at least the 1940s before Cobden had a gymnasium. The team from the tiny farming town had made it all the way to the sectional tournament at DuQuoin, Ill. When they won, somebody said, 'Whoever heard of a bunch of Appleknockers winning such a thing?'"
So we have a name here that certainly appeals to the people of southern Illinois. But they grow apples, peaches and other fruits in many areas of the country, and the question is obviously why nobody else went with the Appleknockers.
We don't have the answer to that. All we can do is top our caps in appreciation of a school that decided to go with a mascot name the bucks the trend of cookie-cutter names.