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Under the big gold dome of San Francisco's City Hall there were sighs and reminiscent laughter. In the press room and in the ornate, blue and gilt Chamber where the City's Board of Supervisors meets, they knew that something wonderful was gone. Ruddy, jut-jawed James B. McSheehy, master of the mangled metaphor, was dead.

In his 24 years as a city official, Supervisor McSheehy took pride in his oratorical blockbusters. He boasted that one reporter was permanently assigned to collect each day's most glaring and improbable McSheehyisms. A belligerent, charming, oldfashioned, long-winded politician who loved the sound of his own voice, McSheehy orated on & on—and was loved for his majesty of phrasing. Students of metaphor-mixing compared him to Philadelphia's famed ex-Councilman Charles Pommer, a slapdash stylist with a less subtle ear ("I have always been man enough to stand on my own two shoulders"—TIME, Nov. 20, 1939). He was also ranked with Hollywood's Samuel Goldwyn, an executive whose high-salaried writers are often suspected of improving on the Goldwyn quotations ("They are always biting the hand that lays the golden egg").

At bars, at lunch tables, throughout the City Hall, San Francisco remembered last week, laughed fondly and gratefully, quoted and requoted some of McSheehy's best:

¶ "Let us take the bull by the tail and look the matter squarely in the face."

¶ "Gentlemen, the sum mentioned comes within a few cents of being a vast and fabulous sum of money."

¶ "The handwriting on the wall is just as clear as a bell."

¶ "That is all water over a wheel and now it's coming back to haunt us."

¶ "This is crouched in language which is perfectly oblivious."