The Washington Post

How Dorothy Parker wound up buried in Baltimore

I had one of those NPR Driveway Moments Thursday morning.

I heard Dorothy Parker and I heard grave and I heard Baltimore and I heard NAACP. I said, “What?” And so I sat in my driveway to listen.

Author and poet Dorothy Parker is shown in an undated photo. (Associated Press)

Though they had never met, Parker inexplicably left her estate to Martin Luther King Jr. If something were to happen to him, her instructions were that the NAACP should take over for him. One thing led to another, something happened to him, and the NAACP eventually took possession of her ashes, and her literary estate, burying her in Baltimore even though she had apparently only been there once.

NPR describes her final resting place this way:

Next to the NAACP headquarters building, near their parking lot, there’s a group of pine trees. A brick path under the trees ends with a circle of brick meant to evoke the Round Table at the Algonquin Hotel, where Parker used to lunch with her witty friends. There’s a plaque with an inscription that includes an epitaph she once suggested: “Excuse my dust.”

There’s much more to the story, including how her resting place in Maryland was a relative upgrade from her initial storage in a New York City filing cabinet. You can listen here. Enjoy.

Michael Rosenwald is a reporter on the Post's local enterprise team. He writes about the intersection of technology, business and culture.


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