25 May 2011

The Parker House, The Last Hurrah, and Edwin O'Connor, Boston, Massachusetts

 'The Parker House

'One of Boston's luxury hotels, opened by innovative hostellier Harvey Parker, the Parker House has been operating on this site since 1856. Parker introduced the European plan, started the practice of serving meals continuously, and coined the word scrod, the fresh white fish catch of the day. The famous Parker Roll and the Boston Cream Pie originated here.

'Among the illustrious patrons of the Parker House were Charles Dickens, Ulysses S. Grant and John F. Kennedy. The members of The Saturday Club, a group of leading 19th century authors including Emerson, Lowell and Longfellow, gathered here.'

The original Parker House has gone, but the bar of the present one is called 'The Last Hurrah' after a 1956 novel by Edwin O'Connor (1918-68), who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 for The Edge of Sadness.

Diagonally opposite the bar, on School Street, is the Old City Hall, which plays a prominent part in The Last Hurrah. O'Connor's protagonist is the mayor, Frank Skeffington Jr., who was obviously modeled on the highly disreputable mayor James Michael Curley.

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