Tuesday, July 3, 2018

the last book I ever read (Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation, excerpt nine)

from Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation by Robert W. Fieseler:

Later that summer, on August 15, a New Orleanian who had taken a risk by offering to help to Troy Perry during the last week of June 1973 died of metastatic lung cancer in the French Quarter. Clay Shaw had perished at sixty. Earlier in 1974, Shaw had suffered a blood clot to his brain and underwent a surgery that rendered one side of his body paralyzed. The condition had forced him to resign from his coveted post at the French Market Corporation, a job he’d assumed courageously—given the efforts it took, following his trial, to hold his head up high. According to an obituary printed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Shaw died with a $5 million civil lawsuit pending against former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison. With the primary litigant deceased, that case now couldn’t proceed.

Clay Shaw’s obituary made the front page of the Times-Picayune. The city’s paper of record took stock of the man as “one of the founders of International Trade Mart and the man acquitted of charges of conspiring to assassinate John F. Kennedy.” The New York Times called him “the businessman who was acquitted of plotting to assassinate President Kennedy after one of the nation’s more sensational trials,” while mentioning the accusations of homosexuality. Indeed, Jim Garrison’s crusade marred Shaw’s reputation in death. None of these obituaries would recognize Shaw’s gesture of compassion for the Up Stairs Lounge victims. Even in his more vulnerable condition, Shaw had attempted to help others.

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