Thursday, May 4, 2017
It was the biggest wake the old city had ever seen: one hundred thousand mourners filed past the catafalque in the Hall of Flags in the State House. They came all through the day and into the night, and the tide of them lapped over to the next day. The biggest wake was followed by the biggest funeral, A crowd of one million, in the impeachable estimates of the police, lined the sidewalks to watch the hearse of James Michael Curley pass through the streets of the city he had led and to which he had given life and laughter, sorrow and scandal, for over fifty years. He had been their mayor four times, but he was more than that to them, more than the sum of his other offices, whether alderman or congressman or governor. For the Irish Americans among them, especially. he was a political and cultural hero, an axial figure in their annals. He had lived for them ("His triumph was their triumph," the Boston Herald noted in its obituary); he had been a cynosure of their hopes and fears, and now in a sense, he had died for them, freeing them for a new era, with new horizons and new heroes.
-Jack Beatty, from the Prologue to The Rascal King: The Life And Times Of James Michael Curley (1874-1958): An Epic Of Urban Politics And Irish America