When Poppy and I were young and active in state politics, we met this extremely powerful, energetic woman from Brockton, named Anna Buckley. She was the State Senator. Anna's about five feet tall. She's very plain spoken. We were walking down the State House corridor one day, and this man walked past us. It's a State House corridor, there are people around, I didn't pay any attention. He was apparently a constituent of Anna's. She said "Wait a minute, Bobby." She grabbed me by the wrist, she turned around, put both hands on her hips, and said "Hey!" The guy kept going. She said "Hey, Toomy!" or whatever his Irish name was.
He stopped, and turned around, and she said "Why are you ignoring me? I never did anything for you, you son of a bitch -- what are you mad at me for?"
She kept walking, then said "Sometimes I don't understand it. I never did anything for that guy and he's mad at me. You do somebody a favor, within six months they won't talk to you because they owe you . . . But this guy, I never even . . . It bothers me." We continued on, and we're going down this long marble, polished corridor in this State House -- if you've ever seen the movie The Verdict, that courthouse scene was actually filmed at the State House. Anna always walked with great stride, so there were loud echoes off the polished marble walls, she said "You know Bobby, it's a long street that doesn't have a shitcan on it someplace. Sooner or later you'll get a chance to stuff. . ." -- whoever it was I was talking about at the time.
Let me tell you another Anna Buckley story. Rocky Marciano, was a Brockton boy. Several dozen families in Brockton made a fortune betting on his fights. Say the person started out with a hundred dollars -- which would be two weeks pay for some of the people that were betting, back when Rocky started out -- they just never stop betting on him, and he never lost a fight. Say they bet a hundred the first fight, maybe they had good odds so they maybe won three hundred dollars from the bookie; the next time they bet the three hundred, and so on, until some of them had a pretty comfortable nest egg. And they just kept putting it all back into Rocky. It got to the point where the local bookies couldn't find anybody to lay it off on! These people made a lot of money. Out of pure loyalty.
One day there was a reception at Anna's house, for something, and Rocky was there. Things were going well, and Anna and the Champion were out in the kitchen. She said, "Rocky, you know, we all love you, and we admire you, but, every once in a while, you could back up. You know? You don't have to just keep going forward; once in a while, when you're getting pounded, you could back up a little bit." Rocky got this sheepish look on his face, he kinda hung his head, and said "Anna, I can't." She says "Whaddya mean you can't, Champ? Whaddya mean you can't!?"
He said, "I can't back up, I don't know how." She's laughing at this point, she said, "Jesus, Rocky . . ." Everything was quiet in the kitchen, so she turned on the radio and put on some soft music -- probably Frank Sinatra -- and she said "I'll teach you how to dance." She said "I'll lead." Now Anna was probably up to his navel, maybe slightly higher. He says "Whaddya mean?" She said "It's called the box,' you know: one-two-three-slide, one-two-three-slide. . ." He said "The woman has to do it backwards . . . You know, sorta like Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, only in high heels and backwards." He said "I don't know what you're. . ." She said, "Rocky, put your arm on my shoulder, and just follow my lead. When I put my left foot forward, you put yours back . . ." They stumbled around the kitchen, knocking into the tables. She did this on several occasions. The next fight, everybody's watching it on TV, and all of a sudden The Champ goes backwards.
The whole crowd got silent. And Anna's cheering and yelling and hollering. They said, "What -- whu -- why -- uh -- what's happening here!" And that's how Rocky Marciano learned how to get out of harm's way, although he rarely, rarely did.
Bob Doyle was born, in 1937, at Northampton, Massachusetts. He attended public schools and graduated from Holy Cross College (1959), and obtained his law degree from Georgetown (1963). He served in the U.S. Navy from 1959 to 1961, mostly at the Pentagon on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations. He has practiced law in Northampton from 1963 to the present and has been active in Democratic politics ("it seems forever"). He lives in the foothills of the Berkshires. With his friend and colleague, Peter D'Errico, he has for the past decade represented, among others, traditional native peoples and nations. He is married to Poppy McCluskey and they have eight children.