Martin Lomasney was born today (March 3rd) in Boston in 1859. Lomasney served as a State Senator, a State Representative, and a Boston Alderman, but is best known for being the political boss of Ward Eight, which encompassed Boston's West End. Lomasney's Hendricks Club kept a tight hold Ward Eight for almost fifty years. Although Lomasney has been eclipsed in popular memory by John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald and James Michael Curley, he was the equal of both men in terms of influence.
Part of the reason for Lomasney's fade from memory was his cautious nature. His best known saying is "Never write if you can speak; never speak if you can nod; never nod if you can wink." Lomasney followed this dictum, leaving little in the way of personal records to document his tenure as one of Boston's most influential ward bosses. A 1947 New England Quarterly article and a not very good biography, The Boston Mahatma, are the starting points for learning about Lomasney, but a political biography which does him justice has yet to be written. The Massachusetts Historical Society has a number of scrapbooks kept by Lomasney, into which he pasted news accounts mentioning himself and will reward anyone interested in reliving the rough and tumble days of Boston politics.
Lomasney's Ward Eight also inspired a cocktail of the same name. Legend has it that the cocktail was created at Locke-Ober in 1898 and the following is my interpretation of the recipe. The B-Side Lounge in Cambridge serves an excellent Ward Eight as well.
2 oz. rye or bourbon
juice of half a lemon
splash of orange juice
1/4 teaspoon of grenadine, more or less
sugar to taste (go easy!)
Combine in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake, strain, serve, enjoy!