“His name had faded from the headlines in New York City long before. For a while after Newsday no longer published his column, its reporters still telephoned him for comment on stories involving public works on Long Island, and played his statements prominently, as did the Long Island Press. But as time went on that all but stopped, too. This man who for decades had read the newspapers first thing every morning no longer found his name in them except on rare occasions – and on those occasions almost invariably in a derogatory context, as a man who had been responsible for housing and highway mistakes. He had built Jones Beach and Sunken Meadow State Park, and Heckscher, and the Massena and St. Lawrence power projects – but no one remembered those. He was forgotten – to live out his years in bitterness and rage.
In private, his conversations dwelt more and more on a single theme – the ingratitude of the public toward great men. And once, invited by the Church to speak at the dedication in Flushing Meadows Park of the Excedra, a huge, marble bench for reflection donated by the Roman Catholic Diocese of New York, he gave vent to his feeling in public. Turning to a high church official who was also an old friend, his voice booming out over the public address system, he said:
“Someday, let us sit on this bench and reflect on the gratitude of man.”
Down in the audience, the ministers of the empire of Moses glanced at one another and nodded their heads. RM was right as usual, they whispered. Couldn’t people see what he had done?
Why weren’t they grateful?”