campaigning Boston style
|Longshoreman 'Bloomers' Connolly lifted his paper cup of Bushnells Irish whiskey towards his deceased co-worker's parlor and shouted "God Bless Dinny Daugherty...there wasn't a touch of the whore in him". His voice raised over the din in the kitchen of the six-room flat in a three-storied building in Charlestown, Massachusetts. A future president of the United States is holding a paper cup of the same fine whiskey listening to the stories surrounding the deceased Dennis 'Dinny' Daugherty. At his side is Billy Sutton; a coordinator for the John F Kennedy for US House of Representatives Ward 11--districts Charleston--North Cambridge campaign. Sutton is maneuvering his man through the bizarre decorum associated with an Irish wake. 'Peaches' Flynn, a massive 6 foot 4 broken nosed ex pug--has his arm around the young candidate--telling him how 'Bloomers' earned his nickname. having found a crate full of silk underwear, put on about sixty of em--so drunk he fell off the gangway was hospitalized and his possessions itemized". Laughing he topped off JFK's drink and began singing; the group joining in enthusiastically:
There were writers, there were fighters,
There were Irish dynamiters.
There were beer wine and whiskey and a cake;
There were men in high positions, there were Irish politicians.
And they all got drunk at Steve O'Donnell's wake.
JFK thought better of asking 'Peaches' how he came by his 'moniker' but adopted the 'touch of whore' phrase and use it many times over the years describing his political and private enemies.
The family patriarch Joe Kennedy had reached out to Sutton after receiving word that his son Jack was not doing that well in Charlestown. Sutton's response was Jack's well-to-do and well-meaning campaign workers were ringing front doorbells and leaving literature; it was not sitting well with the constituents.
The simple explanation was that only police and Bill collectors come to the front door in Charlestown and North Cambridge The 'Old Man' was not naive to local politics, his father P J Kennedy had won elections to both House and Senate State legislatures. He asked Sutton to join the campaign agreeing with Sutton's political philosophy--similar to 'Tip' Oneil's--that "All politics are local" and that people like to be asked-- and to shepherd the young Navy officer through the eccentricities of 1947 local politics.
Cambridge councilman Mike Neville--the initial favorite in the House race had the endorsement of his neighbor and friend, 'Tip' Oniell. An issue that would strain his relationship with the Kennedy machine mostly
his father being a Ward boss t
ADD TIPS INVOLMENT
The Irish home wake, born of deprivation was To the Irish immigrant many things; a reunion from geographical separation--a job possibility--a rekindled romance or match--a resentment resolved--and for many, to eat or to drink more than you could afford. The opportunities of the new world eventually gave rise to
the funeral home. The solemn funeral director with his creeptonian ushers; somberly instilling a death-row atmosphere on the proceeding, successfully put the 'Irish home wake to rest.
In the late forties, Joe Kennedy prevailed on his second-oldest son Jack to run for political office. Everyone knew that he had been grooming his son Joe for a political career; unfortunately, his plane went down in flames over Europe on a WW2 secret mission. In early September 1947 James Micheal Curley, the Representative of Ward 11 announced he would not seek re-election--his 'stepping down' coincided with the rumors of the Kennedy interest in his office. His future improved dramatically when his personal and financial difficulties seemed to abate. Curley's overextended mansion-like home in Jamaica Plain became mortgage-free--he received pardons from then-President Truman and a pressured State Legislature awarded him a lifetime retirement pension. Being a one-time Governor of Massachusetts--having served two terms US House of Representatives--Four-times Mayor of Boston--part of his last term In a Federal prison--he had his share of enemies and was considered by many to be a rogue and political fraud. It was rumored he won his first election by alluding to his opponent as a "notorious heterosexual" and despite the railings and outrage of Bostons Catholic Cardinal O'Connell and the four largest area newspapers who continually demanded his 'scalp'--the Irish Catholic voters continued to put him back into Office. There were many who championed him, as did Edwin O'Connor in his best-selling novel 'The purple Shamrock'. The novel showed a kind and benevolent Curley with 'A slight touch of the whore'. It became a nationally popular movie called 'The Last Hurrah' starring Spencer Tracy
When Joseph Kennedy, in a rare political appearance, announced the candidacy of JFK--the unique platform included a direct appeal to women voters. Cambridge councilman Mike Neville--the initial favorite in the House race--would be the first casualty of that direct appeal to women. At the Invitation of Rose Kennedy and her daughters, over 1400 ladies from North Cambridge and Charlestown were invited for Tea at the Hotel Commander Grand Ballroom in Harvard Square Cambridge. The chance that any of these 1400 women ever being at this hotel other than working there were slim. They came--with eligible daughters in tow--to meet the young bachelor candidate. Rose Kennedy spoke for her son, as her daughters Eunice, Patricia, and Jean 'worked the room'; with father Joe and brothers Bobby and Ted in the background, These 'Tea's were held in Knights of Columbus halls and church basements--displaying the beginnings of that formidable machine that would capture the Democratic party and eventually the presidency. JFK won his first race by 10,000 votes.
The year was 1947