What’s in a name?

“Men hang out their signs indicative of the respective trades; shoemakers hang out a gigantic shoe; jewelers a monster watch, and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth; but up in the Mountains of New Hampshire that there He makes men.”
— Daniel Webster

Most people correctly assume that my blog name is a tribute of sorts to The Profile, better known as the Old Man of the Mountains.

The Old Man, of course, was the rock formation on the ledge of Cannon Mountain that looked like a face. It made Franconia Notch the destination for countless New England field trips and family vacations.

The blog name was a natural, as the Old Man and I share many attributes:

Old Man: Born in NH. (Discovered in 1805)
Fat Man: Born in NH. (1966)

The Old Man

The Old Man

Old Man: Fine New Hampshire granite, carved by powerful glaciers over thousands of years.
Fat Man: Pale and balding, shaped over the decades by takeout Chinese, long afternoons on the couch, late-night trips to Karl’s Lunch Truck and Ipswich Ale.

Old Man: One of the most photographed and videotaped views in New England, if not the United States; has shown up on the state quarter, the state license plate and countless paper-thin, quick-to-shrink gift shop T-shirts.
Fat Man: Once caught by NESN cameras at a Red Sox game missing out on a chance to catch a foul ball because he had a beer in both hands.

Old Man: Inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne to write the short story “The Great Stone Face.”
Fat Man: Forced to read “The Scarlet Letter” in high school.

The Fat Man (on Avalon)

The Fat Man

Old Man:
Collapsed under its own weight in 2003, tumbling down the side of a mountain.
Fat Man: Stay tuned.

(Old Man photo copyright robdebsgreen on Flickr)

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3 Responses to What’s in a name?

  1. Christy Nadalin says:


  2. Karl Searl says:


    I love this post. This may be my favorite blog post I’ve ever read.

    First, I’ve never heard that Daniel Webster quote before. The only one I think I even know is the famous, “there is nothing so powerful than truth”. I’d say that one is just as good.

    This post tells a lot about you. You must have gone to UNH, if you stood in line at Karl’s Lunch Truck…And you’re obviously a Red Sox and beer fan!

    I’ve read before that the Old Man was worshiped by NH Native Americans for years prior to us being here. Apparently, there’s very old tribal art of him, calling him a god of some sort. I’m not sure about this though, I haven’t checked the facts.

    I truly wish they would rebuild him. I’ve only seen him once, on a class field trip in 4th grade. Our new discovery of the White Mountains didn’t take place until after he had crumbled. I think if NH’s money would be well spent on this project when compared to what it is currently spending money (18 million for high speed lanes on rt. 95).

    If it’s okay with you, I’m going to post this link on the writing prompt for the Outdoor Blogger Network. This is by far the best name origin post I’ve read!


  3. Dave Olson says:

    You’re right Karl — I am a UNH grad. I have mixed feelings about the efforts to rebuild or replace the Old Man. To me, when it fell it was nature taking its course. On the other hand, I grew up in the White Mountains and never appreciated the Profile or the other natural wonders of the area the way I do now… And thanks for the link to OBN!

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