Bowery Bugs: Right Turn To Greenpernt

January 5, 2008 by
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

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…


Tho the humor of Erster Bay and Greenpernt is lost on me, the idea of Flatbush being “the forest primeval” is pretty awesome.


Dead Nancy

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.

Miss Heather


3 Comments on Bowery Bugs: Right Turn To Greenpernt

  1. nobugs on Sat, 5th Jan 2008 10:39 am
  2. Nice catch!

  3. rowan on Sat, 5th Jan 2008 3:57 pm
  4. Er=oi, could Erster Bay be Oyster Bay, out on Long Island? If we’re going by phonetics, then the spelling of oi/oy is not relevant. Great cartoon.

  5. queens crapper on Tue, 8th Jan 2008 6:00 am
  6. It’s how people with outer borough accents used to talk. “Erster” = oyster like “terlet” = toilet to Archie Bunker. My grandmother speaks like this.

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