By: E&P Staff
To mark the upcoming 30th anniversary of the death of Richard J. Daley, the Chicago Sun-Times Tuesday reprinted columnist Mike Royko’s elegy for the Chicago mayor he memorably portrayed in the book “Boss.”
The Sun-Times headlined the column “A tribute from Chicago’s very best: Royko on Daley’s death.”
Royko wrote the column for the Dec. 21, 1976 editions of the old Chicago Daily News, the sibling of the Sun-Times that was folded two years later. Royko moved his column to the Sun-Times, and, in 1984, left for the rival Chicago Tribune when Rupert Murdoch bought the tabloid. Royko died April 29, 1997.
The Sun-Times also ran the front-page hard-news article by Paul Galloway that ran the day after Daley’s death in his doctor’s office.
Royko’s column was a clear-eyed, unsentimental look at the mayor, with whom he had many public clashes.
“If ever a man reflected a city, it was Richard J. Daley and Chicago,” he wrote. “In some ways, he was this town at its best — strong, hard-driving, working feverishly, pushing, building, driven by ambitions so big they seemed Texas-boastful. In other ways, he was this city at its worst — arrogant, crude, conniving, ruthless, suspicious, intolerant.”
While Royko’s columns delighted in pointing out the great and petty corruption of the men who surrounded Daley, the final column on the mayor explained why he was never punished by the public for those misdeeds.
“If Daley sometimes abused his power, it didn’t offend most Chicagoans,” Royko wrote. “The people who came here in Daley’s lifetime were accustomed to someone wielding power like a club, be it a czar, emperor, king or rural sheriff. The niceties of the democratic process weren’t part of the immigrant experience. So if the Machine muscle offended some, it seemed like old times to many more.”
To read the full column on the Sun-Times Web site click here.