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John Sears | Farewell, Locke-Ober

Just the death of an institution, or more?

The Globe — after a bit of front-paging — printed most of the story on Locke-Ober’s closing next to the obituary page.

“Just right,’’ said I, not sure whether this was merely the death of a great old institution or of something more, the end of a way of life; those silver tureens; the waiters who remembered us and vice versa; the Manhattans and JFK chowder and wiener schnitzel, all at the edge of perfection; and the naked Victorian nymph in her wall portrait, looking no more exciting than half the statues in the Vatican museum.

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During my days at the Metropolitan District Commission in the early ’70s, I found myself with interesting and influential associates: Vin O’Brien ran The Lynn Item; Jack Hagerty ran the Sandhogs Union; Ted Lymn, a premier fisherman and environmentalist, was an expert on municipal bonds, and we had a half billion of them outstanding. They let me know that they wouldn’t come to commission meetings unless we went to Locke’s for lunch. So we did.

One day we learned from one of the earth’s greatest maitre d’s that he had, for years, protected the sacred men’s grill from women, by stashing them in the room around the corner and leaving them there for an hour or two. Alas, as he told us, the day came when the wonderful Jessie Sargent, the wife of Governor Frank Sargent, arrived with a group of lady guests and requested attention.

Ever after, the grill was thankfully open to the other half of humanity.

Bless you, Locke-Ober, for adding so much to our lives. We’ll miss you.

John Sears was a member of the Massachusetts House, sheriff of Suffolk County, commissioner of the Metropolitan District Commission, and chairman of the state Republican Party.
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