Saturday, June 2, 2012

“Don't write when you can talk. Don't talk when you can nod your head.”

Res Publica
“Don't write when you can talk. Don't talk when you can nod your head.”
by David Trumbull -- June 1, 2012

Many Post-Gazette readers will recognize the saying, by Martin Lomasney, that heads this column. It is one of the few things ever uttered by Lomasney (1859-1933) that made it into writing. Lomasney, as Democrat Ward Boss of Boston's old Ward Eight (now Ward Three), is one of Boston's most storied political figures.

Lomasney himself gave, in an interview with reporter Lincoln Steffens, probably the best definition of "ward boss" when he said, "There's got to be in every ward somebody that any bloke can come to-no matter what he's done-and get help. Help, you understand; none of your law and justice, but help." In return for that help the boss expected the bloke to vote the way the boss dictated.

The ward bosses of the 19th and early 20th century had tremendous power. With the power of the bosses came enemies. On March 7, 1894 Lomasney received a bullet wound in the leg in an unsuccessful assassination attempt. His assailant, James A. Dunan, blamed Lomasney for a dispute he had with the Boston Board of Health.

Dunan told a policeman at the scene, "I had a good reason for doing it. If you knew as much as I do, you would have done it yourself. He is a villain and anything but a friend of the unemployed." Lomasney is reported to have said something along the lines of, “The people didn't think an awful lot of aldermen, but they didn't think we ought to be shot without a fair trial." As for Dunan, he was committed to the Worcester insane asylum.

Martin (the "Mahatma") Lomasney is the subject of a show at the West End Museum. The exhibit, which runs through August 4th, is curated by West End Museum Executive Director Duane Lucia. The exhibit reception takes place on June 16th at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Guests will enjoy light refreshments, including the “Ward Eight”—a cocktail created in 1898 at Locke-Ober in honor of Lomasney’s election to the state legislature and the district largely responsible for his victory.

Recipe for the Ward Eight Cocktail

2 ounces rye whiskey
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon grenadine
Maraschino cherry (optional)

No comments: