Do You Know Where Ripton, Massachusetts Is Located?
I stopped for fuel, and asked the person gassing up in front of me, "Excuse me sir, I'm trying to find Ripton, Ripton, Massachusetts." The blank stare should have tipped me off.
The man, who told me his name was Julien, said, "I think it's either on the Cape or Martha's Vineyard. It's one of those rich places."
Mike, who grew up in Brockton never heard of it. Rene from Fairhaven had no idea. Tasha, too, never heard of it.
"I'm born and raised in Mattapoisett," David said, "And I never heard of Ripton. Where is it, out in Western Massachusetts?"
Just as I was about to lose hope, A.J., who hails from the South End of New Bedford, came to my rescue.
"You are far away! If you're driving to Ripton, it's a good two hours from here," he assured me.
Truth be told, the town of Ripton, Massachusetts is a make-believe community, supposedly settled in 1767, that received state funding in the 1980s. A modern-day myth, concocted by George "Gige" Darey, a selectman in Lenox, along with a group of fellow conservationist friends because Beacon Hill continually ignored Western Massachusetts. So they invented Ripton, not only for a good laugh, but to focus public attention on the dilemma.
With official looking stationery, they'd regularly write to the legislators – and at last, Ripton was actually recognized and included in the state budget, complete with the signature of Governor Michael Dukakis. Money was handed out to Ripton and deposited in a state escrow account.
Keep in mind, they couldn't pay out anything because the Department of Revenue couldn't find a location for Ripton.
In a similar fashion, when the Air Force put out a request for land to build an early-warning system communications tower, every town around locked horns against it – except for the Town of Ripton, which told the Air Force, as a spoof, that it would welcome the construction of those massive metal radar towers that the eagles might enjoy.
Word is, the Air Force came out and combed through the area, but left empty-handed, because they couldn't find Ripton.
"Someone up there in Boston wasn't paying attention," David said after hearing the full story.
As for Melissa Santos and Tyson DePina, they did know Ripton.
"We know all about it, because we heard you this morning," Santos said laughingly. "Keep us smiling in the morning!"
No phony baloney there!