“Greenwitch” vs “Gren’itch”

When this website’s editor first moved to Second Street in City Point over 30 years ago, he soon noticed a curious custom. Those who had lived here since at least the 1960s pronounced Greenwich Ave., one of our neighborhood’s border-defining streets, exactly as it’s spelled: “Greenwitch”, rather than “gren’itch”. Former City Point resident Tom Hines related the following amusing story:
“That whole thing with Greenwhich Ave and Grenitch Ave is kind of funny. I think I was in 3rd or 4th grade in St Peters school when we were studying about Connecticut, and the nun showed us a map of the state with all its major towns. Lo and behold there was Greenwhich but the nun (not a local) called it “Gren’itch”. The kids who lived on Greenwhich Ave wanted to know why she was saying it wrong. The subject was soon changed! As I got older I would find myself changing the pronunciation depending on who I was talking to. To a local, it still is Greenwhich Ave, to anyone else it’s Gren’itch Ave. It’s a City Point thing; no one else understands.”
Former resident Doug Kelsey, who worked as an engineer for the New Haven Rail Road for many years, said that at home he said “Greenwitch” but at work he would say “Grenitch” since the town of Greenwich is one of the rail stops on the way to New York.
Betty Giulietti (who moved to City Point in 1932) and Angelo DiChello (resident since 1961) both pointed out that only those who wanted to seem more “sophisticated” would say “Gren’itch”. This editor soon developed the habit, when calling police or other city dept., of naming the street twice: the “City Point way” first, the “sophisticated” way next, followed by “It runs parallel to Howard Ave.” I also soon learned to refer to Second St. [where I live] as “off Howard Ave.”, so police, delivermen, etc. didn’t end up on the Second St. over in Fair Haven (the latter being little more than a 1-block alleyway). Then, of course, there’s the inevitable confusion with nearby Second AVE in West Haven. 30 years ago a woman from 84 Second St. in Hamden showed up unannounced at my door with the new license plates for my car. “I thought I should bring this right over to you, rather than just put them back in the mail.” Hard to imagine someone doing that today! And of course residents of our other neighborhood border-defining street—Hallock Ave.—know to emphasize “Avenue” lest the pizza deliverman end up on Hallock SREET in the Hill!

Advertisements