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The Boss

By David Dayton McKean
This Web version, edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

Personal habits, dress, hypochondria, etc. The well-traveled boss; life at Palm Beach, Deal, and the $7000 penthouse. Fondfor prize fighting and horse-racing. The hideout offices in Jersey City. Government by telephone. Use of English. The dominating personality.

To see and hear him, one would think him the embodiment of mercy, good faith, integrity, humanity, and religion.... Everyone sees what you seem, but few know what you are, and these few dare not oppose themselves to the opinion of the many, who haze the majesty of the State to back them up.

WHEN, IN 1938, Frank Hague appeared in the C.I.O. case in Newark to take the oath in the federal court, a New York Times correspondent described him as `a tall, redfaced, partly bald-headed man of athletic build and springy step, belying his more than sixty years.' John McCarten, describing him in the New Yorker, said that `His pale blue eyes are heavy-lidded and suspicious, his thin lips curve morosely downward, his chin sets pugnaciously in the dewlaps that dangle over his high, Berry Wall collar.' Perhaps no political boss ever looked less like one than Mayor Hague; he is no paunchy, cigar-chewing, lounging politician. He stands erect, walks vigorously, talks forcefully. His physique that of a prizefighter, now elderly but excellently preserved.

He has always kept himself in good physical condition by his favorite exercise of walking. He walks miles; he will walk the legs off most companions. He walks about his domain in Jersey City, on Park Avenue in New York, at Deal or Atlantic City, or along the boardwalk at Miami or Palm Beach. He likes golf, perhaps because the game involves so much walking, and from all reports he might have made a first-class player had he taken up the game earlier in life. He is not popular as a golfing companion, however, because he talks loudly all the time and because he continually tells other players what they should do or not do.

The good health is maintained to the point of hypochondria. Tobacco made his throat sore; so twenty years ago he gave it up, and he has always liked high stiff collars because he thought they protected his throat. He has some sort of stomach complaint, so that he does not use liquor, though he has no objection to his guests' doing so, and he is said to provide them with the very best. His sinus trouble is aggravated by the smoky, humid air of his native city, so that he has a perfectly good reason for spending as little of his time there as possible.


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