The Real Spuds

In town

"Well, as the fellah says," he said, "'politics, not baseball, is the number one sport in this city. And d'ya know why?

"Because everybody can play. And everybody does play, from the little kiddos to the old women. And they're all having a grand time.

"They can lick envelopes all day long for Mrs. Hicks, for Ianella, Dapper O'Neil, Barry Hynes or Peter Hines, Kevin White, John McDonough or Nick Abraham. Then they can all run home and tell the boys on the corner how things are down at "the headquaaattters" and how Himself is a shuuuuurrr winner. The only ones that don't have fun are the ones working for Logue and John Winthrop Sears. They're so damn busy convincing themselves that they're saving the city from the crumbs, they don't have any fun, a'tall."

Although everyone in Boston is de nature a political sage, they don't come much wiser than the crowd at J. A. McNulty's.

McNulty's is a dingy neighborhood bar in an old part of the city. It attracts mostly old men from the neighborhood who come in around non stay till five, come back at seven and stay till closing. The old TV bought years ago to encourage business after a new highway isolated the place from traffic, is never turned on. Once in a while a stranger will come, attracted by the pasteboard sign hanging in the window: "McNulty's--Next to the railroad potato yards, come in and meet the real spuds." The real spuds always have something to say, and its always about politics.

Some of the McNulty boys like Grady take the larger view of politics. Their interest is not so much in who is going to win, as it in who is running, and who is working for whom and why. Grady is a cynic; as his talk reveals. he has no sympathy for those who work for a candidate so they can go back and boast about it, and even less sympathy for those who get involved so they "can save the city." Don't some people campaign out of truly altruistic motives? "There's no such a thing," snaps Grady, "there's no such a thing, they do it to puff them-selves up; at best, they do it to ease their conscience."

And then there are some like Grogan who concentrate on the races and make elaborate analyses of the factors, and predict who'll win. To Grogan's mind, it looks like Secretary of State Kevin White and School Committeewoman Mrs. Louise Day Hicks as the nominees in the September Mayoralty primary. Grogan doesn't go beyond that, however. He won't predict just yet who'll be the next mayor. He'll tell you who won't be the next mayor, though. Topping that list is John Sears. "Sears." says Grogan, "is a Republican, and though the election is non-partisan, people won't forget that, and they won't forget that he's a Brahmin."

Grogan is not sure that Mrs. Hicks will win the primary, either. He feels the "rows and eruptions in Datroit and Newick haven't hurt Mrs. Hicks; but she's by no means invincible."

"If there weren't any neighborhood candidates like Hynes, Ianella, and McDonough, she'd come down the pike with no trouble. However, there are neighborhood candidates and the votes these ones will get are votes that she could use. But she won't get them because, you see, the first loyalty is to the old neighborhood. And anyway not every-one, naming no names, of course, loves the idea of a lady mayor."

It really doesn't make any difference to the boys in McNulty's who wins or loses the Mayoralty campaign. It's just another election. And in December they'll forgetall about it and begin talking about the 1968 election. After all, it is, as the fellah says, the number one sport in the city.