To begin with, White reminds us, the original Americans always pronounced r, as the British did in colonial times. Only in the late 18th century did the British stop pronouncing r after a vowel. Not surprisingly, the colonists who remained in the big East Coast seaports and had regular contact with London adopted the new British pronunciation. But those who settled inland retained the old r and never lost it.
I remember his aide, Sid Shapiro, who I spent a lot of time getting to talk to me, he finally talked to me. And he had this quote that I’ve never forgotten. He said Moses didn’t want poor people, particularly poor people of color, to use Jones Beach, so they had legislation passed forbidding the use of buses on parkways.
Then he had this quote, and I can still hear him saying it to me.
I’m reading the epic biography of Robert Moses, The Power Broker, at the moment. At the moment it’s the 1920s and Moses is trying to wrestle swathes of land off the robber barons who’ve built their manor houses on Long Island, so that he can build extensive park systems and a parkway to connect them to the city.
It’s a mammoth book but I’m really enjoying it. The 1920s is an interesting era in American history not just because of my teenage obsession with The Great Gatsby and the associated milieu, but because it’s also a period when the Klan were incredibly active in white, Protestant communities all over the country, and because it’s when the robber barons of the Gilded Age were really trying to hand onto their wealth.