Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sketch Standing at the Great Democrat’s Funeral Motorcade

The first time I found Mission Hill it was because I got lost. The portal my car flew by was the bodega ‘Casa Cris’ - owner Cris was later killed by robbers - that day I skedaddled. Why are the signs in Spanish? But I returned. First to Eldora, later Calumet. And it’s been home. And church bells are always ringing.

Quite a day for Mission Hill – ‘the biggest day ever.’ Rain picking up Hurricane Dan’s edge. Bomb sniffing German Sheperds. Security high. As Sen. Ted Kennedy makes his last motorcade ride. Four presidents come to Mission Hill to see the end of the great Kennedy. Pres. Obama at Mission Church will be front and center. Said Ted: He didn’t mind not being president; it just bothered him that someone else was. He followed the summon of service. And we are on the map.

Corner of Tremont and Parker. Saturday morning rain. The neighborhood that devil may care forgot. Black SUV after black SUV roll in sad parade. Sen. Dodd rolls down his window, the pol inside him alive alive. The little Kennedy girls in black dresses in big front bus windows too waving. The police snipers remarkable for their pupils piercing. In neighborhood that came to me my home. The guest were full-form famous and powerful – but little Rosie from the hill in knock-out dress of black got in I think.

Less centered around the Mission Church of Irish immigrants is the neighborhood now than 30 years ago. Now it is Ted Kennedy’s entrance to the portal of the veil of the vale. The rich man who’s been going through the eye of the needle – trying to get to heaven in time. Mission Church I know your Italian marble, electric red votives, tall bouquets of crutches. Greatest sermonist Father Manion on the radio. Cecelia will watch on TV til sun is going down and Ted is buried at Arlington with only the light of the flame on his brother’s grave.
We line up finally across from the Tobin Gym – Tobin being greatest son of Mission Hill, a mayor in his 20s in the 40s; bridge namee – gym where Cousy and Celts would practice in the days before Gatorade. Where we go in the basement with the machines to vote. In front of resurrected Boston Clutch home of wire driers and drive wheels, where you still get hand written receipts.
Saw many of the mighty: Sen Dodd, Doris Kearn Goodwin and Richard Goodwin [he of the crazy hair].Short Emily Rooney. Barney Frank out of Duncan Donuts [‘I love you Barney. You speak the truth,’ says I]. Serious Bob Woodward got his companion to hold the umbrella as they walked and he thunk.

The patter builds. The chatter subdues. Here they come. The ruddy cyclist police micks lights strobe metal and blue.

Here’s the picture, sketch in my mind:

Futura the lettering ‘Maurice J. Tobin Building’ signed in aluminum.
Built with yellow bricks. Stubborn maples sprout in front.
US, Mass.flags draped windless at half mast.
The asphalt black and shiny wet with rain with two fresh yellow stripes up the median. Cast metal barricades gray.
Black ponchoed, black hatted Swat team members – many of them black men – in sidewalk line array back turned to Ted.
Eyes darting, darting. My view slightly occluded by woman’s umbrella.
Then a shadow of a casket in a long Black Cadillac driving slow.

Then it’s over the hill and down to Flan OBriens. For the TV mass. The priest drank the wine at 11.59. The Mission church altar was crying. Angels with horns blowing away. Placido Domingo did Panis Angelicus. The flaming golden tears wobbled in the ceiling. All this on TV. In the bar a few wept.

Pres. Obama called Ted: “The Soul of the Democratic Party.” “We must live out our lives the best we can with purpose.” I am interviewed by a writer for the Washington Times for an article entitled ‘Thousands Bid Kennedy Farewell.’ After the mass a few black-sports-coated Cape tanned captains of America and their better halves came in - in Irish spirit and tipped a few.

This story is told over and over here these days. Here by my friend Chris H. Years ago when his wife was diagnosed with MS just before Clinton came in and there was a health care initiative going on, he and mate wrote their senators. Kennedy’s letter came back quickly. He responded in a week.

The letter itself as it was phrased in a way indicative that the senator understood this effected somebody’s life. (The junior senator’s response came two weeks later, and was long and not very readable.) Ted’s letter was bing-boom-direct. We are fighting for this, for you.

“Ted’s letter was relevant. It was full of ‘goddam it, yes we can!’ Direct and to the point. It was hand signed.” This story is told often: “What he said meant the word to me.” As the stories pile high, they seem like acts of charity.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

great writing jack it was more than the 100 pages of wash the glob wrote i really got the picture thanks ... bye the way we were in Me. so i missed the hole thing ....i did listen to the red sox every night drawing and sipping old grand dad......lets go to a moyie Jeff

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