Whence Came the S?

Like many other linguistic additions and subtractions, it probably has a lot to do with where we live

   One of the quirks of this admittedly quirky newspaper is that we leave the S off Ditch Plain in what we write. Almost everyone else calls that stretch of Montauk beach and the surrounding area Ditch Plains; we do not. To sharp-eyed readers this may seem to be a mistake, and, in fact, in conversation around the office the staff has been known to succumb. However, it was deemed long ago that the plain upon which the ditch or ditches were, was one, not many. Hence, it is Ditch Plain, not Plains. Or maybe it should even be Ditches Plain, really.
    Historical sources vary on this, as you might imagine. However, Jeannette Edwards Rattray, the publisher of The Star and a local historian, in her 1938 “Montauk: Three Centuries of Romance, Sport, and Adventure,” lists the plain without the S. Official records in the National Archives concerning the Life-Saving Station there do not show the use of Ditch Plains until after World War II. The 1940 Census left off the letter as well.
    So from whence came the S? Like many other linguistic additions and subtractions, it probably has a lot to do with where we live. People here speak in a mash up of the Long Island accent and the old, Bonac way. Whether or not The Star’s preference for Ditch Plain ever wins out, we’ll keep with it, at least for the foreseeable future, no matter what anyone says.