fb-pixel Skip to main content

Women in the downstairs dining room? Egads!

Opened in 1875, Locke-Ober, which closed its doors last week, was the third-oldest restaurant in Boston.JOSEPH DENNEHY/file 1970

George Frazier, who died in 1974, was a Globe columnist. This is an excerpt from a column he wrote in 1973.

There were some damned attractive women in the downstairs dining room at Locke-Ober’s on Friday evening, and the pleasure of their company should not go unacknowledged. Somehow, their graces seemed not in the least out of place amid the resolutely masculine look of the dark paneling, the coat racks, the painting of Yvonne, and the heavy serving dishes that glinted like quicksilver under the lights. It was a very satisfactory evening, a lovely evening. It was almost as if, in this marvelous, ageless room on Winter Place, there had never been the shrill nocturnes of the time when the Libbers suddenly began to descend, like the wolf on the old, like Byron’s Assyrian at the destruction of Sennacherib, upon a presumably impregnable bastion of — well, if not exactly male supremacy, then at least male togetherness.

The ones I used to see in that period when The Movement first began screaming for an end to the "men only'' policy of certain bars and restaurants were mean-spirited, boisterous, intimidating and execrably dressed. Besides, they had terrible table manners.

In retrospect, I find it incredible that I ever allowed myself to be bothered by the harridans, for it should have been immediately apparent that they wouldn't be around for long. This, after all, was obviously not their sort of place. Beneath a facade of defiance, they were trembling — awed by the ambience and the old patrician associations, intimidated by the prices, ill at ease in the company of the housebroken. They really were rather
pathetic . . .


Now they are gone, and while "good riddance'' isn't entirely inappropriate, it should not be said without the qualification of a few words of mercy and gratitude on their account. After all, these were the Rockne shock troops who, so to speak, softened up the opposition and made it vulnerable to the swiftness and skills of the Gipper — in this case the endearing young charms of the girls in their summer dresses. In other words, had the battleaxes not laid siege to this lovely room with a view it might never had such attractive women as it did Friday evening.