John Murphy (sanatorium operator)

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Coordinates: 42°30′06.8″N 71°24′55.5″W / 42.501889°N 71.415417°W / 42.501889; -71.415417 John E. "Dropkick" Murphy (May 12, 1912 in Malden, Massachusetts – October 17, 1977 in Concord, Massachusetts)[1] was an American professional wrestler and sanatorium owner. He operated the Bellows Farms Sanatorium, an alcoholic rehabilitation facility in Acton, Massachusetts from 1941 to 1971.[1] The band Dropkick Murphys is named after him.

Wrestling career[edit]

Murphy executing a dropkick on Jim Maloney, 1939

Murphy was a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, having been graduated from the Massachusetts College of Osteopathy, but he never practiced.[1] Instead, he was a professional wrestler in the 1930s and 1940s, mostly competing in the Northeastern United States, sometimes billed as "Dr. John (Dropkick) Murphy".[2] Murphy competed in matches, some promoted by Paul Bowser, at places and venues including Portland, Maine, the Boston Arena and Mechanics Hall in Boston, Massachusetts, The Mosque (a roller rink)[3] in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the Rex Arena in Lowell, Massachusetts, the Philadelphia Arena, the Convention Hall on Line Street[4] in Camden, New Jersey, the Grand Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, the Montreal Forum, the Opera House in Newark, New Jersey, the Ridgewood Grove Sports Center[5] in Ridgewood, Queens, New York City, the Fort Hamilton Arena in Brooklyn, New York City[2][6] and St. Nicholas Palace (also called the Royal Windsor Palace) and Hippodrome, in Manhattan, New York City.[7]

Dropkick Murphy's[edit]

1942 classified ad for Bellows Farm Sanatorium uses euphemisms

Murphy, with his wife Marie (and after her death, his second wife Jean) owned a farmhouse at 40 Davis Road in north Acton, Massachusetts and adjoining property, near the intersection of Great Road (route 2A) and Main Street (route 27). Filling a need that Murphy saw, the facility was turned into a rehabilitation center for alcoholics to "dry out" (as the alcohol detoxification process was informally called during those times). The name of the facility was the Bellows Farm Sanatorium, but it was almost universally called Dropkick Murphy's.

In America in the middle of the twentieth century, alcoholism was more often considered a character flaw and shameful secret rather than a disease (the American Medical Association declared alcoholism to be a disease only in 1956, for instance). In recognition of this, Murphy's client list was kept private, and a comprehensive list of clients is probably lost to history. But long before facilities such as the Betty Ford Clinic made celebrity rehabilitation more public and acceptable, the Bellows Farm Sanatorium treated clients including, according to rumor and legend, celebrities from the sporting and entertainment worlds of Boston and further afield.

And how would you like to be Joe Kennedy? Here’s your uncle [Ted Kennedy], looking more like an escapee from Dropkick Murphy’s every day, and he says he’s going to run again in 1994?
Howie Carr, 1991 Boston Herald column[8]

Popular Boston newspaper columnist Howie Carr would occasionally reference Dropkick Murphy's sanatorium, sometimes in jeering reference to the Kennedy family, a particular bête noire and hobbyhorse of Carr's.

The facility closed in 1971, Murphy died in 1977, and the sanatorium farmhouse has been demolished or removed. Some of the land around the sanatorium's former location has been developed into the Briarbrook Apartments and other properties. Nashoba Brook runs through the property, the Nashoba Brook–Spring Hill–Camp Acton conservation areas are adjacent, and the Acton portion of the Bay Circuit hiking trail runs nearby.

I have always heard old-timers around Boston talk about a dry-out place around in the 1950s and '60s, called... Dropkick Murphy's Place. I loved that name so much that we planned to use it for a band name long before we ever had a band.
Ken Casey of Dropkick Murphys[9]

The popular Boston punk band Dropkick Murphys, formed in 1996, were named after Murphy and his sanatorium. None of the band's past or current members have any connection to Murphy; the name was chosen because founder and frontman Ken Casey liked the sound of it.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "John E. "Dropkick" Murphy". Who-is Log. Retrieved October 20, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Dropkick Murphy’s at Bellows Farm". Xefer. March 27, 2009. Retrieved October 20, 2013. 
  3. ^ Michael J. Daly (March 11, 2011). "A tradition of welcoming newcomers". Connecticut Post (Bridgeport, Connecticut). Retrieved October 20, 2013. 
  4. ^ Phil Cohen. "Camden, New Jersey Convention Hall". DVRBS.com. Retrieved October 20, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Ridgewood Grove SC". Box Rec. Retrieved October 21, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Fort Hamilton Arena". Box Rec. Retrieved October 21, 2013. 
  7. ^ Tim Hornbaker (February 13, 2011). "Boston Wrestling Results - 1937". Legacy of Wrestling. Retrieved October 20, 2013.  Tim Hornbaker; Don Luce. "Boston Wrestling Results - 1941". Legacy of Wrestling. Retrieved October 20, 2013.  Tim Hornbaker (July 21, 2007). "Boston Wrestling Results - 1944". Legacy of Wrestling. Retrieved October 20, 2013.  Tim Hornbaker. "Boston Wrestling Results - 1945". Legacy of Wrestling. Retrieved October 20, 2013.  Tim Hornbaker (December 27, 2007). "Bridgeport Wrestling Results - 1939". Legacy of Wrestling. Retrieved October 20, 2013.  Tim Hornbaker (November 1, 2007). "Bridgeport Wrestling Results - 1940". Legacy of Wrestling. Retrieved October 20, 2013.  Don Luce. "Lowell Wrestling Results - 1938". Legacy of Wrestling. Retrieved October 20, 2013.  Don Luce. "Lowell Wrestling Results - 1940". Legacy of Wrestling. Retrieved October 20, 2013.  Tim Hornbaker (August 24, 2010). "Philadelphia Wrestling Results - 1939". Legacy of Wrestling. Retrieved October 20, 2013.  Tim Hornbaker (August 23, 2010). "Camden Wrestling Results - 1939". Legacy of Wrestling. Retrieved October 20, 2013.  Tim Hornbaker (December 2, 2010). "Los Angeles Wrestling Results - 1939". Legacy of Wrestling. Retrieved October 20, 2013.  Tim Hornbaker (September 16, 2010). "Montreal Wrestling Results - 1941". Legacy of Wrestling. Retrieved October 20, 2013.  Don Luce (January 12, 2010). "Montreal Wrestling Results - 1942". Legacy of Wrestling. Retrieved October 20, 2013.  Tim Hornbaker (January 3, 2011). "Montreal Wrestling Results - 1944". Legacy of Wrestling. Retrieved October 20, 2013.  Tim Hornbaker (November 13, 2010). "Portland (ME) Wrestling Results - 1935". Legacy of Wrestling. Retrieved October 20, 2013.  Tim Hornbaker (November 24, 2010). "New York City Results - 1937". Legacy of Wrestling. Retrieved October 20, 2013.  Louis Golmitz; Bob Nitsche; Don Luce; Tim Hornbaker. "New York City Results - 1938". Legacy of Wrestling. Retrieved October 20, 2013.  Louis Golmitz; Don Luce (January 7, 2011). "New York City Wrestling Results - 1941". Legacy of Wrestling. Retrieved October 20, 2013.  Tim Hornbaker (September 19, 2007). "Newark Wrestling Results - 1938". Legacy of Wrestling. Retrieved October 20, 2013.  Tim Hornbaker (November 13, 2010). "Newark Wrestling Results - 1939". Legacy of Wrestling. Retrieved October 20, 2013.  Louis Golmitz; Bob Nitsche; Don Luce; J Michael Kenyon; Tim Hornbaker; Hisaharu Tanabe; Jeff Sharkey (March 21, 2012). "1938". NY Pro Wrestling. Retrieved October 21, 2013.  Louis Golmitz; Don Luce; Tim Hornbaker; Hisaharu Tanabe; Jeff Sharkey (October 11, 2011). "1939". NY Pro Wrestling. Retrieved October 21, 2013.  Louis Golmitz; Don Luce; Tim Hornbaker; Hisaharu Tanabe (January 8, 2011). "1941". NY Pro Wrestling. Retrieved October 21, 2013. 
  8. ^ Howie Carr (October 28, 1991). "[title unknown]". Boston Herald. Retrieved October 21, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "Dropkick Murphys.". The Free Library. Retrieved October 21, 2013.