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Hail to a King

Time is failing Kevin White, but history won't.

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Charles P. Pierce
May 4, 2008

Dear Kevin White:

Sorry to hear about your recent fall, and I'm even sorrier to hear about your continuing battle with Alzheimer's. I have been around that merry-go-round with my father, three uncles, and an aunt already. It is not the easiest ride in the world. That I know. When I got to Boston 30 years ago, you were still the mayor, but your profile was on the wane. You had been one of those great, sleeves-rolled-up mayors of the 1960s and '70s, like John Lindsay in New York, full of ideas of how again to make cities places where people wanted to live. You'd surrounded yourself with brilliant, ambitious cutthroats like Barney Frank, who believed in that as much as you did. For a time, it looked like mayors would be producing the next several presidents. But that never happened. In your case, Ted Kennedy blew out the tires on your national bandwagon in 1972, when he argued against your becoming George McGovern's running mate. And then the wheels came off entirely in 1974 and 1975, when busing hit Boston, and you got put in an impossible position, with half the city demanding you become Orval Faubus overnight. That was pretty much that. Your mayoralty ran out slowly, with sniping from the newspapers and some cheap shots from the still aborning blight that is talk radio. I have to admit, I hadn't heard much about you until I read that you had been diagnosed with AD. It is a long journey into that darkness. I wish you and your family well. When I moved here in 1978, I felt welcome because a giant was still the mayor. You may not remember that now, but I always will.

Charles P. Pierce
Cpierce@globe.com

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