Bowery Bugs: Right Turn To Greenpernt
I received a most delightful nugget of Greenpoint goodness from a reader last night. She writes:
Thought you might find this interesting. It’s a brief reference to our neighborhood from the cartoon “Bowery Bugs” (1949). Steve Brody is off to Flatbush to find himself a lucky rabbit’s foot…
Pete McGuinness (the namesake of my favorite thoroughfare in the Garden Spot) was often quoted as saying “Greenpernt” in the New York Times. At first I took it at face value, but as I have read more articles (in their archives) I came to the opinion that they took delight in making Mr. McGuinness look like a yokel by quoting him in broken English. Per a Forgotten New York commenter:
You might correct an error and at the same time make a small contribution to philology by noting that neither the late Peter McGuinness nor any other authentic representative of Greenpoint referred to the section as Green-pernt [TIME, June 21]. I knew McGuinness well . . . and I never once heard him or anyone else from Greenpoint mispronounce the section’s name. . .It is perfectly true that New Yorkers often render “oi” as “er,” and vice versa, but I can swear under oath that Greenpoint is called Greenpernt only by people from Coney Island, Croton-on-Hudson and Beverly Hills. [Time Magazine letter, July 12, 1948]
Perhaps it was because Pete was Irish? Perhaps it was because his political career survived the Seabury hearings and he was elected the Sheriff of Kings County in a landslide? A yokel he may have been, but he was also politically savvy— and the latter was probably what upset them most.
Nonetheless, I am certain “The Fighting Alderman of the 17th Ward” will get a chuckle out of this from his deluxe apartment in the sky. My only hope is it isn’t a Belvedere.