Law School in Boston

10May16

Upon returning to Boston, Charles sought admission to Harvard Law School. Dean Warren Seavey, who Morin described as “particularly pompous,” was unimpressed with his meager captain’s rank and academic mediocrity and suggested that he repeat his senior year and strive for improvement. But that didn’t appeal to Morin, who knew perfectly well the reason for his mediocre grades and, unlike many of his contemporaries, did not look upon admission to Harvard Law School as the sine qua non of accomplishment.

Morin instead entered Boston University Law School under the GI Bill. There he joined a class that included other future luminaries: Edward Hennessey (Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court); F. Bradford Morse (Massachusetts Congressman and United Nations Ambassador), and Edward W. Brooke, the first African American to be elected to statewide office in Massachusetts (Attorney General) and the first African American in the country to be elected to the United States Senate. Also in his class was Robert Kent, a brilliant man who had also been in Morin’s Harvard class, although they hadn’t met. Kent later became a revered professor of Constitutional Law and Civil Procedure at Boston University and Cornell.

Morin and roommate Morse worked and played hard. They excelled academically, covering the three-year curriculum in two, with a week off between semesters. They were admitted to the Law Review where they served in various editorial roles, and passed the bar exam before they graduated. All the while, they threw nightly beer parties in their apartment. Years later Morin would advise his youngest son, Peter, who was about to enter B. U. Law, to go out for “one beer” at the end of every study night. After his first semester, Peter asked his father if it was true that he and his friends had limited themselves to one beer. “Well, maybe two,” his father allowed.

When not in class, Morin and his pals spent time eye-witnessing the practice of law: the school was then located at Pemberton Square in the shadow of the Commonwealth’s trial and appellate courts. The classmates often took front row seats in the courtrooms to watch the best trial and appellate lawyers perform before judge or jury. Another day they hustled across the street to the gallery of the House Chamber to watch Thomas P. O’Neill become the first Democrat Speaker of the Massachusetts House. Although Morin worked in the Republican trenches, he and O’Neil would become good friends, and they would do each other many favors over the next fifty years (for a short while, Morin employed Tip’s eldest son, Tommy). Many years from that day, after both had toiled from opposite sides of the aisle in Washington, O’Neill saluted Morin on his 70th birthday with a letter saying, “Old pal, may you live as long as you want…”

Morin spent some of his law school time honing his golf game at Charles River Country Club, where his father was a member. He used this time shrewdly, insinuating himself into games with Federal Circuit Judge Calvin Magruder or Harvard Law School Dean Erwin Griswold, both pre-eminent legal minds in the country. During a round with Griswold one day, Griswold confided that his wife, Harriet had suffered a disabling stroke several years earlier.

“In the first year of her illness,” he told Charles, “her medical expenses exceeded my total gross income. I mentioned this over lunch one day to Randolph Paul [then the General Counsel of the U. S. Treasury Department-ed.]. Paul was astonished, and soon the tax deduction for medical expenses became law. Ironically, because of the one percent deductible feature [referring to the provision that only expenses exceeding one percent of adjusted gross income could be deducted-ed.], my own increase in earning power and the stablization of Harriet’s condition, I never was able to benefit from the deduction — not one dollar! And I hope you never will suffer the same fate.”

As it turned out, many years later, Morin’s wife, Betty, would have a stroke, and in light of the stratospheric costs of medical care in this day, Griswold’s wishes for Morin’s good fortune were not realized. Ironically, Mrs. Griswold would go on to outlive her husband, who died in 1994 at the age of 90.

Golf became a vehicle for Morin to expand his social circle and clientele at the same time. It was at Charles River during the 1940’s that Morin first met Charlie Shriner, one of three sons of the French Shriner Shoe family. From inception, they were kindred spirits, and they became fast friends for decades until Shriner’s untimely death in 1980. Morin served as counsel to the French Shriner Shoe Company, and their respective youngest sons have remained fast friends through their adulthood as well.

While he and Morse shared an apartment on Joy Street, Morse dragged Charlie along one night to a beer party at an apartment on Pinckney Street rented by his acquaintance, Elizabeth Donnelly, and several of her fellow Smith College alumnae. Charlie told his sons fifty years later, “It was love at first sight.”

“Betty” Donnelly was a Worcester girl, the daughter of James Corcoran Donnelly, a Superior Court judge. And she was quite the hell-raiser herself. She came from a strict Catholic family, ridden by an overbearing mother against whom she rebelled. Her move to Boston following graduation marked her full emancipation from the grasp of her mother, which he relished, as demonstrated by at least one Notice to Quit for “repeated disturbances and annoyances to the other tenants.”mom eviction

Between her exquisite looks and her joie de vivre, Charles knew he’d found his soulmate. He would tell his friends over fifty years later, “The moment I saw her I knew we were destined to be together.” And so, in the midst of his law studies and golf, Charlie squired Betty around town in his Ford two-seater, over to the South End to the jazz jam sessions at Southland Restaurant, or out to Seiler’s Ten Acres in Framingham, to take in the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, and whoever else on the jazz circuit was rolling through town.

He also took her to Sunday dinners at his parents’ new home in the Chestnut Hill section of Brookline. During these dinners, Betty didn’t always impress her future in-laws. For one thing, she was not much of a dessert fan. At her very first introductory dinner with George and Margaret, after their maid/cook “Reeva” delivered dinner to the table, Betty was dismayed to see her plate occupied by two small potatoes, a smattering of green beans, and one tiny slice of pot roast. What had Charlie not prepared her for? After dispatching this snack, she thought to ask for seconds, but demurred. She soon discovered why the meals were so meager.

After the light repast had been cleared, Reeva placed a strawberry shortcake the size of a hatbox in front of George. George raised the cake knife and looked at her. “Elizabeth?”

“Oh, no thank you,” she said. “I’m not much of a dessert person.”

An awkward silence followed as Reeva slunk from the dining room.

Charlie’s father had an enormous sweet tooth. Reeva’s prize creation was her strawberry shortcake. They had asked her to make it especially for Betty’s first visit.

She had managed to insult her host and his cook in one sentence.

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2 Responses to “Law School in Boston”

  1. 1 pookiemcnoodles

    I absolutely love this story.

  2. 2 Dr Anne

    Wonderful memoir.


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