It has taken 54 years but Dorothy Parker finally got her tombstone.
The poet's ashes were buried last year and on Monday her tombstone was unveiled at a ceremony held at Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx. The ceremony was meant to take place the day before but had to be postponed after Tropical Storm Henri hit the city. The significance of the storm was not missed on friends, family members, and fans who were all aware of the fact that Parker was born in a hurricane. With this in mind, they gathered under uncertain skies to finally lay her to rest.
"This is finally her homecoming to her beloved New York City," said Kevin Fitzpatrick, founder of the Dorothy Parker Society, according to the New York Post.
The ceremony began with jazz music as well as the recitations of Parker's work. Many attendees also sipped on flasks of gin, and even poured the drink on the tombstone which was decorated with roses requested in the final stanza of Parker's 1925 poem, "Epitaph for a Darling Lady," which is inscribed on the granite monument, according to The New York Times. It reads:
"Leave for her a red young rose,
Go your way, and save your pity;
She is happy, for she knows
That her dust is very pretty."
Parker died in 1967. She left her entire estate, including all future royalties, to Martin Luther King Jr. but failed to stipulate where her remains should rest. As a result, her ashes sat in a Westchester crematory for six years. They were then moved to the Manhattan office of her lawyer, where they stayed for 15 years in a filing cabinet.
In 1988, the NAACP created a memorial for her outside its Baltimore headquarters but Parker's family demanded her ashes be returned to New York after the group announced it was considering a move to Washington, D.C., in 2006. The ashes were buried in 2020 at Woodlawn on Parker’s birthday, Aug. 22.
The headstone was funded partly through donations and partly through the sale of a T-shirt bearing a caricature of Parker by the illustrator Al Hirschfeld, as well as through a commemorative gin issued by the New York Distilling Company in Williamsburg.
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