Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The House of Meehan

I did a column the other week about how the city of Philadelphia is more dynastic than it is Democratic.

We don't have a Democratic party in the modern sense of that word, but really just a collection of tribes or clans or families, who tend to dominate their areas of the city.

Call them the Ward Lords.

But, I plain forgot (until reader Paul Tioxin reminded me) that the most dynastic of our dynasties isn't Democratic at all. It is Republican.

It is the House of Meehan.

For three generations, a Meehan has served as leader (read: boss) of the local Republican party.
Their reign began with Sheriff Austin Meehan, who was boss for 25 years until his death in 1961.
The elder Meehan, who was 64 at the time, died in an unusual setting: at a dinner being held in his honor.

Here is a description, from an old story I wrote, about what happened next:

They laid the sheriff out at his big Victorian home on Rising Sun Avenue in Lawndale. The papers said that more than 50,000 people turned out for the viewing. His son was 36 at the time.
"A few of us got together. We talked to Billy," recalled ward leader John Patrick Walsh in 1987. "He was kind of lost. And we were lost. We encouraged him to take over where his father left off. "

Aus Meehan was succeeded by William Austin Meehan (known universally as Billy Meehan)

Billy died in 1994, at age 69, in another unusual setting. He was playing the 10th hole at the
Spring Ford Country Club in Royersford, Montgomery County.

His son, Michael, took over the role of party leader upon his father's death, and reigns today.

That's 70 years of unbroken Meehan rule.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the Meehans have been content for the past 50 or so years to dine on the crumbs of what the Dems in the City leave behind for them. They are part of the reason we don't have a dynamic, at least two-party system in this City. And why we have been forced to endure substandard Democratice Party rule.

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The lack of votes for Republican candidates is more the result of changing demographics in the City, the extremist right wing controlling the party agenda, and the total incompentency of the current party standard bearer, Bush

9:30 AM  

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