“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, mid-September, 1920, Boston, Massachusetts

Irish-American lawyer, John Quinn, 50, and his family—sister Julia Quinn Anderson, in her mid-thirties; niece Mary, 13; two household servants and a private nurse—are at the Boston South Station waiting for their train back to Quinn’s home in New York City.

Boston South Station

They have all just finished a lovely long holiday in a cottage in Ogunquit on the coast of Maine, courtesy of Quinn. John wasn’t able to join them until just a few weeks ago. But he really appreciated relaxing at the resort. He hired a car and driver from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to bring them here to Boston—well worth the cost, including $12 tip.

Quinn notices that Boston is, as he later writes to a friend,

turned over to the Irish, who turned out…one hundred thousand strong to greet [Irish politician Eamon de Valera, 37]. I am told that 70 percent of the population of Boston is Irish…There is one spot on the earth where the Irish are on top.”

De Valera, self-proclaimed President of Dáil Éireann, the Parliament of the newly proclaimed Irish Republic, addresses a crowd of 50,000 at Fenway Park near the end of his American tour, selling bonds to support his new government.

De Valera audience at Fenway Park

Nearby, two Italian immigrants, Nicola Sacco, 29, and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, 32, are indicted for a robbery and double murder at a shoe factory in Braintree, Massachusetts, last April.

For silent newsreel footage of de Valera’s trip to Boston, click here

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This fall I am talking about writers’ salons in Ireland, England, France and America before and after the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

My “Such Friends” presentations, Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table, and The Founding of the Abbey Theatre, are available to view on the website of PICT Classic Theatre.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, April 15, 1920, Braintree, Massachusetts

At the Slater & Morrill Shoe Co., on Pearl Street, the company paymaster and a security guard are walking with the payroll to the main building.

Two armed men—witnesses say they looked Italian—grab the metal boxes holding more than $15,000, shoot the guard four times as he reaches for his gun, and shoot the other, unarmed, man in the back as he tries to run away.

Three other men pull up in a dark blue Buick. The robbers jump in and keep shooting out the window as the car speeds them away.

Slater & Morrill shoe factory

Slater & Morrill Shoe Co., Braintree, Massachusetts

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gpysyteacher.com.

In 2020 I will be talking about writers’ salons in Ireland, England, France and America before and after the Great War in the University of Pittsburgh Osher Lifelong Learning program.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins and his relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

 

 

 

At the New York World offices in midtown Manhattan, on August 5th, 1927…

 

…journalist Heywood Broun, 38, is working on his column for the next day. He knows what he has to write.

For the past few months Broun, along with some of his Algonquin Round Table lunch buddies, and other liberal writers, have been championing the cause of two Italian immigrants, Nicola Sacco, 36, and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, 39, who have been sentenced to death.

They were charged seven years ago with being involved in a Massachusetts robbery where a security guard and paymaster were murdered. As the case has dragged on, it has become a cause celebre for liberals in America and major European capitals, who feel the fishmonger and the cobbler are being prosecuted just for being foreigners living in the US.

Broun’s friend Robert Benchley, 38, has given a deposition stating that he had been told that the judge in the case had made prejudicial comments about the defendants. But it was inadmissible because it was hearsay.

Under public pressure, the judge put together a commission to review his judgment and death sentence, headed by the president of Harvard University, Broun and Benchley’s own alma mater. The commission gave in and supported the judge’s decision.

So the immigrants are scheduled for execution later this month, and Broun’s wife, journalist Ruth Hale, 40, and other Algonquin friends—including Benchley, Dorothy Parker, about to turn 34, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, 35, and novelist John Dos Passos, 31–are planning to march in Boston next week.

Broun has kept Sacco and Vanzetti’s story alive in his column, but his bosses at the World are not happy. He should be very careful about what he writes now. Broun could lose his job, and, because of the three-year non-compete clause that he signed, he would be out of work for quite a while, with a wife and son, Heywood Hale, 9, to support.

He knows that. He writes,

 ‘It is not every prisoner who has the president of Harvard University throw on the switch for him…’

sacco-and-vanzetti Boston Globe

This is the last in this series about the writers before and during their times as ‘such friends.’ Check back soon for more stories from the early 20th century.

Manager as Muse explores Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ work with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe and is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

To walk with me and the ‘Such Friends’ through Bloomsbury, download the Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group audio walking tour from VoiceMap. Look for our upcoming walking tour about the Paris ‘such friends.’