How does one pronounce Roosevelt? This column wandered into that thicket last week and concluded that President Theodore Roosevelt's last name was pronounced Ruse-a-velt and that President Franklin D. Roosevelt's last name was pronounced Rose-a-velt.
Well, we have it now from students of the subject that TR pronounced his name the same as FDR did. If that's the case, this will stand as a grudging correction of an error inculcated early in life.
The late Alice Roosevelt Longworth, TR's daughter, once told me she pronounced it Ruse-a-velt. A Washingtonian who once dated Alice Longworth's granddaughter agreed privately with me that he was told the same. But then, let's face it, Alice in her later years did everything she could to distance herself from distant cousin Franklin, perhaps even to emphasizing a name difference.
And I, a youngster when FDR ran for his first term in 1932, remember that my grandfather and his contemporaries called TR "Ruse-a-velt." Maybe it was because there was no broadcasting in TR's day -- people read the president's name in the papers and pronounced it phonetically. Whatever.
Anyhow, a letter arrived from Cornelius Van S. Roosevelt, son of the late Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. and grandson of TR, who lives on something called "Que Street NW."
"My Auntie Sister Alice Longworth pronounced it Rose-uh-velt and I well recall her admonishing anyone who pronounced the first syllable so as to rhyme it with 'goose.' " All members of his family, Cornelius Roosevelt wrote, pronounce the name like FDR did.
John F. W. Rogers of Washington sent along a reprint from the Theodore Roosevelt Association Journal -- egads, there's an association for everything! -- that quoted Robert B. Roosevelt, TR's uncle, as writing to The New York Sun in 1903 that "the first syllable of the president's name is 'Rose,' pure and simple." In fact, he noted, the first syllable of the name -- Roos -- means Rose in Dutch.