Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The last Last Hurrah

I had the opportunity yesterday to attend the public wake for the late Kevin H. White, Mayor of Boston from 1968 to 1984, and my former boss. It felt far less like a typical wake from Waterman’s than a co-production of Conventures (Dusty Rhodes) and Regan Communications, Inc.

At 2:45 the line of mourners stretched up Beacon Street from The Parkman House to just in front of the State House. When I arrived I guessed the event had not even started yet, because there was no movement in the line at all. “Late for his own funeral” was my first thought.  Not entirely unlikely.

Just after I got in line, we were joined by Tim Cahill, former state Treasurer and failed gubernatorial candidate. He attracted a lot of media and I was forced to listen to him bloviate over and over again.

In attendance were (among hundreds of others) Paul Guzzi, Bob Beale, Ron Druker and lots of folks I did not recognize. Let's just say none of the people who think they make up "The New Boston" were there. Of course I am old enough to remember at least one or two prior versions of “The New Boston” and those folks were well represented.  (It occurred to me later that Beale and Druker should have paid for the whole thing with all the money they  must have made during White’s administration)

The Mayor had, and has, a very charming and outgoing family - brother, sons/daughters, grandkids. Two of his grandsons were outside “working the line” like troupers, even though they looked too young to vote. More family members were outside the Parkman house entry shaking hands and listening thoughtfully to people’s stories. This, and the tight configuration of the restored townhouse, were the real reasons for the glacial pace of progress as the afternoon wore on through the bright and unseasonably warm day. 

When I finally got inside after 75 minutes on the sidewalk, and was about to talk with his daughter Caitlin, I (and others) were given the bum's rush by one of Dusty Rhodes' minions. "OK, step over here and sign the book, move into the next room, then get in line to go upstairs...."

Upstairs there were even more family and friends. The coffin was draped with the flag of the City and attended by strangely uniformed members of the "City of Boston EMS Honor Guard."

I said hello to former Deputy Mayor Micho Spring, who did not remember me, but I had no reason to expect she would. More charm, more family giving generously of their time and attention to all. Even to the least of us.

There really are special people and special families in this world. I feel lucky to have been tangentially associated with this one, even for a little while. All the waiting was worth it.

I got home and caught up on the Boston Globe, where I found the following Reflection for the Day.

"People are our proper occupation. Our job is to do them good and put up with them."
Marcus Aurelius

Kevin White did not suffer fools gladly, but he might have agreed that people were his proper occupation.

No comments:

Post a Comment