Dorothy Parker was born through a hurricane. So the poet, identified for her mordant wit, might have gotten a dim chuckle that Hurricane Henri derailed designs for the prolonged-in-coming unveiling of her headstone at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx final Sunday.
The ceremony was alternatively conducted below unsure skies on Monday morning, starting with new music and recitations of Parker’s get the job done at the cemetery’s Woolworth Chapel and ending with sips from gin-filled flasks and roses cascading all-around a granite monument carved from a quarry in Vermont.
The stone alone asked for the roses. Below Parker’s identify and dates was the closing stanza of her 1925 poem “Epitaph for a Darling Lady”:
Depart for her a pink young rose,
Go your way, and help save your pity
She is happy, for she is familiar with
That her dust is extremely quite.
“Parker wrote about 5 epitaphs,” observed Kevin C. Fitzpatrick, the founder of the Dorothy Parker Modern society, who arranged the ceremony. Much more than any one, Mr. Fitzpatrick had created it attainable for Parker — whose ashes have bounced close to the Japanese Seaboard because she died in 1967 — to at last occur to rest in the loved ones plot at Woodlawn. “That was a single of her points. She also wrote a bunch of poems about death and cemeteries.”
Parker’s a few grandnieces, who all live in upstate New York — and who all skipped the occasion owing to Henri and some unexchangeable educate tickets — all agreed on the passage. Others weren’t so positive.
“I’m kind of lacking the ‘Excuse my dust’ component,” explained Margot Avery, an actress, mentioning a well-known quip Parker at the time recommended as her epitaph. Ms. Avery has appeared as the writer in various productions of a one particular-lady play by Annie Lux known as “The Portable Dorothy Parker.” Ms. Lux was also in attendance. She, far too, puzzled about the preference of epitaph.
“One of her favorites was ‘If you can read through this, you’ve come much too shut,’” Ms. Lux additional. (Mr. Fitzpatrick afterwards pointed out that this quote could be apocryphal. Time has had a practice of attributing witticisms to Parker.)
“‘I’m listed here in opposition to my superior judgment,’” claimed Ms. Avery, retaining the bon mot volley likely. (The true quote was “Wherever she went, together with right here, it was versus her much better judgment,” but the that means remains.)
Ms. Avery was not the only Parker impersonator on hand. Natalie Wilder, who has starred in a diverse one particular-female participate in (“Fresh Hell: The Lifetime and Enjoys of Dorothy Parker,” by Eric Peterson), recited two Parker poems at the chapel: the aforementioned “Epitaph for a Darling Lady” and “The Night Primrose,” from 1929. Dressed in her flapper most effective and sporting a cloche hat, she bore a passing resemblance to the poet. “I check out,” Ms. Wilder mentioned.
The unveiling of the gravestone was the closing chapter in a 15-calendar year odyssey, instigated by Mr. Fitzpatrick with the assistance of Parker’s family. The purpose was to convey Parker’s cremated continues to be from the N.A.A.C.P. headquarters in Baltimore to the Rothschild (Parker’s beginning title) plot at Woodlawn, the place the writer’s parents and grandparents are buried.
Parker, a lifelong civil legal rights activist, bequeathed her estate to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. but unsuccessful to stipulate wherever her continues to be ought to relaxation. As a end result, Parker’s ashes put in prolonged durations in a crematory in Westchester County, a lawyer’s business office in Manhattan and a memorial backyard garden outside the N.A.A.C.P. workplaces. When the group resolved to go to Washington, D.C., previous yr, it agreed to provide the urn with Parker’s stays into the hands of Mr. Fitzpatrick, who introduced them by educate to New York. The ashes ended up buried last calendar year at Woodlawn on Parker’s birthday, Aug. 22.
Erecting a headstone proved an more challenge. They are highly-priced. The Parker kinfolk agreed to accept donations from the poet’s followers. Even further revenue was elevated by means of the sale of a T-shirt bearing a caricature of Parker by the illustrator Al Hirschfeld and a constrained-edition gin produced by the New York Distilling Business in Brooklyn. The gin operate went on sale June 7 and bought out in one particular day.
The distillery’s devotion to Parker was not new. Allen Katz, a co-founder, is these kinds of a lover of the Algonquin Round Desk wit that he named the company’s gin just after her in 2011.
But no just one, probably, is a even larger Parker devotee than Mr. Fitzpatrick, who attended the ceremony in a seersucker match. He admits that his devotion in some cases goes way too significantly. “There’s an vacant plot subsequent to Dorothy Parker, and my wife needs to drive me into that hole,” he explained.
Jesse Gelber & the Rounders, a five-piece ensemble, performed music of Parker’s era both equally at the chapel and graveside, such as compositions from Irving Berlin and Duke Ellington (both of those buried at Woodlawn). Kate Manning joined them at the chapel to sing “I Wished on the Moon,” a incredibly tender 1935 track for which Parker wrote the lyrics.
Susan Olsen, the director of historic expert services at Woodlawn, expects quite a few much more men and women to make the pilgrimage to Parker’s grave. “She will make it on our map,” she stated.
The stalwarts who go to in the coming a long time will possibly take pleasure in the fact that Jerry Thomas, who posted the to start with e-book of mixology in 1862, was laid to rest around the corner from Parker, who was identified to love a drink.