Tags: mario | cuomo | flynn | tribute

Ray Flynn: Mario Cuomo Was the 'Real Deal'

By    |   Saturday, 03 January 2015 12:39 PM

I had only one political picture in the mayor’s office in Boston City Hall — a 1968 presidential campaign poster of Hubert H. Humphrey.

I also had an artist’s sketch hanging prominently on the wall that you couldn’t miss as soon as you walked in. It was given to me by Boston’s homeless men and women at St. Francis Shelter.

The picture showed a group of homeless street people waiting in line with Jesus for the soup kitchen to open. They looked unshaven, cold and weather-beaten.

Many prominent people stopped by my office — presidents, prime ministers, Nobel Prize winners and Medal of Honor recipients.

But only Gov. Mario Cuomo of New York, who came to Boston to talk to me in 1991, knew the title of the picture.

"Mayor," he said, "that's my favorite picture. 'Christ of the Bread Line.'"

That pretty much sums up the man I was happy to call my friend, who passed away Thursday. Mario Cuomo could see goodness and pain in all people, especially the needy.

At the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco in 1984, where he delivered the keynote address to a standing ovation, I was seated on the platform where he spoke. It was the greatest speech I ever heard. I shook his hand and congratulated him afterward.

"Let's get a nice Italian dinner," was all he said.

When we stopped in at the Washington Square Bar and Grill, its owner Ed Moose began playing "New York, New York" and everyone in the place stood up and applauded.

Mario had charisma to spare. Years later, I tried to convince him to run for president and told him that as the head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, I would get the other mayors to back him. We even met in Albany and Cape Cod to talk about it, but he ultimately said no.

Our friendship continued. While I was in New York City one day to  speak at a union convention, he picked me up in his car and took me to Little Italy where we attended evening Mass and had dinner.

Mario loved talking to me about city issues, especially how to train homeless people so they could get jobs. We also talked for hours about sports, especially baseball. He remembered vividly remembered the famous Providence College-Miami basketball game I played in at
Madison Square Garden in 1963.

Mario Cuomo was the real deal. We differed on a few major issues, but the major reason I admired him was because he respected everyone no matter how rich or poor they were.

Mario was proud of his Italian heritage as the son of Ellis Island immigrants. He loved talking about St. Francis of Assisi.

That’s going to be quite a conversation in Heaven.

Raymond L. Flynn is the former mayor of Boston and former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican.

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I had only one political picture in the mayor's office in Boston City Hall - a 1968 presidential campaign poster of Hubert H. Humphrey.
mario, cuomo, flynn, tribute
Saturday, 03 January 2015 12:39 PM
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