NEWS NEWS AND MORE NEWS I am going to get all of my memories down, before I forget what I remember!. . . . quote from Stanley Forman

21Apr/133

Marathon Memories

My Press Pass, 2013

Going to the Boston Marathon is like going to Dis­ney. Every­one is smil­ing and laugh­ing except maybe the run­ners till they cool down. I am not going to let the sad events sur­round­ing the 117th run­ning of the Boston Marathon take away from the won­der­ful mem­o­ries I have of cov­er­ing it since 1967.

At the Boston Record Amer­i­can it was huge. There were a lot of pho­tog­ra­phers assigned. In 1967 women were not allowed to run, nor was there a wheelchair-sanctioned race. The crowds and amount of run­ners paled to what it has become today.

We cov­ered the begin­ning, the Welles­ley Col­lege coeds at their water tables, Heart­break Hill in New­ton, the fin­ish line and the med­ical tent.  One pho­tog­ra­pher was assigned to the photographer’s truck, which was usu­ally a beat up flat bed truck. At least once the pho­tog­ra­phers had to get off the truck and push it out of the way. Many run­ners com­plained about the fumes from the truck. I never got that assignment.

Back then the Pru­den­tial Insur­ance was the spon­sor so the race ended on the strip in front of the Pru­den­tial Tower. As the race would come down Com­mon­wealth Avenue the run­ners would take the right on Glouces­ter Street and the truck would go straight down Com­mon­wealth Avenue.  At the fin­ish line there were sev­eral pho­tog­ra­phers. A Boston motor­cy­cle cop, Gene Lee, a great ath­lete him­self would be assigned to grab our film of the fin­ish and race it to our office in down­town Boston. Page One would be a photo of the win­ner. I worked the lab for my first Marathon.

The wire ser­vices set up a dark­room in a school right near the start of the race, which always began at noon. They would have a photo on the wires within ten min­utes for the after­noon papers.  I worked the lab for my first race. Kather­ine Switzer a col­lege stu­dent reg­is­tered for the race as K.V. Switzer and got a num­ber. When Jock Sem­ple a BAA race offi­cial saw K.V. was a woman he jumped into the start of the race and tried to wres­tle her out. Ms. Switzer had put her hair up to dis­guise her­self. Other run­ners blocked Sem­ple from throw­ing her out. Don Robin­son of UPI was the only pho­tog­ra­pher to get the shots. That caused quite a bit of grief for our pho­tog­ra­pher who was on the truck. Back then we did it our­selves. It was not a good thing to see a credit, which read AP or UPI photo. It would be five more years before woman were sanc­tioned.       

My first out­side cov­er­age was in 1968. I was assigned to the start­ing line. I was given a Polaroid Cam­era, a steplad­der, one of the wire ser­vices portable trans­mit­ters and instructed to find some­one who would let me use their home phone to trans­mit the start of the race. I would only have one chance to get the photo, as Polaroid’s were not fast. I did get it and it was Page One.

Late 60s, me help­ing one of the run­ners get set for a self por­trait. Note, I was
taller, thin­ner and had hair.

I also had to get some fea­ture pho­tos of run­ners and bring back some sto­ries to go with the pho­tos. It was a lot of fun. I helped peo­ple tak­ing pho­tos of each other some­times grab­bing their cam­eras to take the pho­tos so both the shooter and sub­ject could be together. One year I met this cou­ple, both UMass Amherst stu­dents who were going to run the race together. They told me they were insep­a­ra­ble. Within a year of the race they would be killed in a car crash. Although they were not mar­ried they were buried together. Because of my pho­tos we cov­ered the story.

Rac­ing down to the wire, slip­pery day in front of the Pru­den­tial Tower.

I cov­ered the fin­ish many times. There was no yel­low tape and I could roam wher­ever I wanted. I was at the fin­ish line when the first wheel­chair race was sanc­tioned. I had a shot of two run­ners rac­ing for the 3rd & 4th posi­tion with one of them falling before he crossed the line.

Patty Lyons Cata­lano with her sis­ters after the finish.

Patty Lyons Cata­lano, a local favorite who every­one thought would win the Boston Marathon in 1981 was beaten by Ali­son Roe. It was unex­pected. I was at the fin­ish line when Patty was greeted by her sis­ters and the dis­ap­point­ment of not win­ning the race.

In 1982 I went into TV. The Boston Marathon was a huge event back then. We arrived in Hop­kin­ton around 6:am the Sun­day before the Mon­day race with thou­sands of feet of cable. It was at least a 12-hour day with many cam­eras being set up. We would be live through the early morn­ing show on Mon­day, then the start and through­out the race. The only time I got in front of the run­ners is when I rode shot­gun while John Premack ran the cam­era for live cov­er­age of the race from a small pickup truck.

There were some funny times. Bill Rodgers a local race favorite would win the race four times. I went to his Mel­rose home one race morn­ing then fol­lowed him to Hop­kin­ton. There was a crew from Japan doing the same thing. We were dri­ving west on the Mass Pike when the Japan­ese crew decided to pull up along side the Rodgers’ car to get shots, only prob­lem Rodger’s car got off the ramp at Route 495 and they ended up going fur­ther west miss­ing the exit. It was a very funny moment.

Johnny Kelly the elder who won the race twice and fin­ished sec­ond seven times ran his 61st and last race in 1992. I was almost home when the phone rang. Joe Roche on the assign­ment desk for Chan­nel Five real­ized at 630:pm we had no one at the fin­ish line for Johnny Kelly. I raced back and got Johnny fin­ish­ing the race and col­laps­ing into his wife’s arms.

Women and wheel­chairs all became part of the Boston Marathon. Photo from my still days.

After many years of cov­er­age I got some senior­ity and took the April school vaca­tion week off to spend time with my fam­ily. It meant not cov­er­ing the race but being able to watch it. We went to New­ton, at the begin­ning of Heart Break Hill where a very fes­tive group was watching.

Wheel­chair win­ner, late 70s.

Forty six years after my first Marathon, April 15, 2013 it all changed. I was sit­ting at the South Bay Mall at 2:50pm when I heard a Boston Police Offi­cer scream­ing for mul­ti­ple ambu­lances to Boyl­ston Street he had 40–50 peo­ple injured.

At first I thought he said 71 Boyl­ston Street which is down by the Boston Com­mon. I fig­ured a mov­ing vehi­cle hit the peo­ple. Then it changed to 671 Boyl­ston Street and I knew it was some­thing to do with the Marathon, but I still thought a vehi­cle had struck the people.

Then it hap­pened, some­one said on one of the chan­nels I was lis­ten­ing to it was an explo­sion, a bomb went off. I was yelling into the two-way radio to the sta­tion and try­ing to get around traf­fic through the South End of Boston to the explo­sion area. I got lucky and got behind some fire com­mand cars and police cruis­ers. I shut the radios off, as I only wanted to con­cen­trate on get­ting there safely. I knew we had crews at the med­ical tent. I fig­ured we would be all set where the explo­sion took place.

I tried to park where I could see the top of the Pru­den­tial Tower where one of our receive sites for microwave was anchored. I knew I might have to feed tape or go live with my vehi­cle. When I finally parked on the island in the mid­dle of Hunt­ing­ton Avenue I was very excited. I opened the trunk area to get my equip­ment out, had to change mic bat­ter­ies as I for­got to shut it off the last time I used it and con­tin­ued to shake. I knew my daugh­ter Han­nah was in Boston, but I also knew she should not be in this area.

Then my cell phone rang, it was Han­nah and I lost it. I screamed at her “get the fuck out of the City,” and I said it sev­eral times. I was so happy to hear her voice.

I got my shit together and started to shoot video. Many were cry­ing, scared and won­der­ing what to do as the police were urg­ing them to keep mov­ing and get out of the area. I talked to some eye­wit­nesses, got video of lots of peo­ple hug­ging and cry­ing. I got a shot of one injured runner.

I was never able to get into the explo­sion area. The police shut it down very quickly. I stayed on Hunt­ing­ton Avenue till 8:pm. I heard a call the police were going to a high-rise apart­ment build­ing two streets form Revere Beach. There were sev­eral police depart­ments there includ­ing, FBI, ATF, MSP, Home­land Secu­rity. They were there because at the Brigham & Woman’s Hos­pi­tal there was an injured man who became a per­son of inter­est. He lives in this build­ing. Finally after 11:pm the inves­ti­ga­tors left and I got to go home.  At 2:30am the phone rang and I was asked to go back to Revere. There were some Tweets the inves­ti­ga­tion was con­tin­u­ing. I drove back, looked around, noth­ing and went home. I got another hour of sleep and went back to work.

Part of the makeshift memo­r­ial in Cop­ley Square. This is where the med­ical tent was for the race. Most of the injured were treated within 100 feet of the memorial.

Two days after the blast, on Wednes­day,  Jack Harper and I inter­viewed one of the “heroes” of the blast Tracy Munroe. She tear­fully told us how she and her fam­ily left the area right after the blast. Then she knew she had to go back to help and ran back. She saw the Richards’ fam­ily. Mar­tin Richards an eight year old was dead at the scene. She picked up his six year old sis­ter, Jane and held her in her arms. She asked her name, said com­fort­ing words and held her until med­ical peo­ple came to help her.  Jane lost one of her legs and her mother has a severe brain injury from the blast.

As Jack and I lis­tened we both became teary eyed. After the inter­view I told her she reminded me of the teacher from New­town, Kaitlin Roid who told her stu­dents as she hid them and lis­tened to the gun­shots, “I need you to know that I love you all very much, I thought that was the last thing they were ever going to hear. I thought we were all going to die.”  She said she did not want the last sounds they heard to be gunfire.

Thurs­day after the explo­sion was calm until after ten that night. I received a call say­ing a police offi­cer had been shot near MIT. I called it in and tried to go back to sleep. Just after 1:am, Nancy Bent on the desk called to get me going yelling cops are being shot at, bombs are being thrown and one of the sus­pects was dead.

I raced to Water­town where I would spend the next 16 hours. There were thou­sands of cops rac­ing around from one lead to the next. The area was pretty much shut down and with all the vehi­cles rac­ing around I decided to pull over so I would not get hit by one of them.

Around 4:pm my eyes were start­ing to close and I went home. My wife Deb­bie woke me up when the announce­ment came the sec­ond sus­pect was trapped in a boat in someone’s back­yard. We watched until the press con­fer­ence and the offi­cial announce­ment he had been cap­tured and trans­ferred to the hospital.

Med­ford City Hall is draped with a 45/90 foot flag as the City pays their respects to Marathon Blast vic­tim Krystie Camp­bell, whose funeral was held on April, 22, 2013.

As a pro­fes­sional newsper­son I am dis­ap­pointed I did not get any com­pelling video but happy to have been a part of the cov­er­age. I sat out New­town and the Bliz­zard of 2013, due to an injury. I am glad I got to cover this awful event.

Memento from the April 24, 2013, very mov­ing memo­r­ial at MIT for their police offi­cer Sean Collier.

I am proud to say I work for the best local tele­vi­sion sta­tion in the Coun­try, WCVB-TV. We have a great team who worked many days and long hours together dur­ing this tragic event. We shared our grief and anx­i­ety. Only WBZ-TV con­tin­ues to cover the Boston Marathon locally. Sev­eral years ago it was decided not to cover the race live. From a busi­ness stand point it did not work any­more. It will be inter­est­ing to see what the sta­tions and net­works do next year.

Here is a link to com­pelling audio of the first 20 min­utes after the explo­sion. The com­mand­ing office Yan­kee C2 is Dan Lin­sky of the Boston Police Depart­ment. Notice how calm and orga­nized he is.

http://www.lawofficer.com/video/news/police-audio-boston-marathon-e

Here is the link to Diane Sawyer’s inter­view with Kaitlin Roig a cou­ple of months after New­town.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/newtown-teacher-mission/story?id=18864583#.UXXQXL-IIip

 

 

 

 

22Nov/122

Logan Airport and Me

Logan Air­port, 1977

Since the tragic yet fas­ci­nat­ing story on the news Novem­ber 21, 2010 about Delvonte Tins­dale a 16 year old who is believed to have stowed away in the wheel well of a plane from Char­lotte, North Car­olina and falling to his death over the down of Mil­ton, Mass­a­chu­setts I have been think­ing about my expe­ri­ences at Logan Airport.

As a kid grow­ing up in Revere, the planes were on a land­ing path over our house. Some­times we thought the plane was com­ing for din­ner.  There was also a small air­port in Revere we vis­ited as a fam­ily to watch the planes land­ing and tak­ing off.

Once in a while when my friends had noth­ing to do we would get on the train and go to Logan to watch the big planes com­ing and going. In those days you could watch peo­ple get­ting on and off the planes on the tar­mac from a roof top bal­cony.  I was there with my good friend Peter Tegan many years ago when Eliz­a­beth Tay­lor landed.  It was just after she left Eddie Fisher for Richard Bur­ton while film­ing “Cleopa­tra.”  To say the least, most of the peo­ple watch­ing were not com­pli­men­tary to her when she walked the tar­mac although I doubt she could hear what was being shouted from where we were.

The first plane crash at Logan I remem­ber had to be in the early 60s.  The plane went off the run­way into Winthrop Har­bor; that stretch of water between Logan and Winthrop. Gene Dixon, one of the great pho­tog­ra­phers I worked with, told the story of hear­ing the first call and fol­low­ing a Boston Police Cruiser through the Sum­mer Tun­nel (there was only one tun­nel in those days and it was two-way com­ing and going from Boston to East Boston). The cruiser was not sure the best access and went up and down the inlet streets of Winthrop and ended up on Dix Street where for­mer Gov­er­nor Edward King lived.  It was a good access point from that side of the tragedy and Gene took what­ever pho­tos he could make from that dis­tance. In high school after the crash one of my teach­ers, Mr. Mil­l­er­ick, talked about the crash and com­plained how many rubber-neckers there were try­ing to get a glimpse of the inci­dent. Truth be known even back then had I been able to get there I would have been there.

When the Boston Fire Depart­ment struck fire box 612 you knew it could be some­thing as that was the fire box num­ber for crashes at Logan. There was a crash in the late ‘70s when an air­plane com­ing in for a land­ing in the fog hit the retain­ing wall on Run­way 33 Left, break­ing apart on impact and burst­ing into flames. The day that hap­pened I was doing an inter­view in New­ton at the home of a widow whose hus­band had been shot through one of their win­dows as he watched TV.  I was with Ed Corsetti (best crime reporter of his era) and we had no idea about the crash.  We left the inter­view and turned on the AM radio to hear about it.  It hap­pened just before noon.

Gene Dixon once again was on the inci­dent and he told the story of being on the Boston Com­mons with other pho­tog­ra­phers and hear­ing the Boston Globe desk call­ing their pho­tog­ra­pher on their two-way radio telling him about the crash.  Gene left imme­di­ately raced to Logan, got through the gate and took a cou­ple of quick pho­tos and left so he could make our evening paper’s noon­ish dead­line.  As he told it, he raced to the scene, took a few pho­tos and raced back to the paper. As he was dri­ving through the Dewey Square Tun­nel (now the Lib­erty Tun­nel) the trans­mis­sion on his car gave out.  He jumped out of his car and hoofed it the rest of the way, prob­a­bly about a mile, but he got in on time to grab Page One of the paper.  He got a hun­dred dol­lar bonus and it cost him about a thou­sand dol­lars for the repair. The money really did not mat­ter as it gave him some­thing to joke about on such an awful story.

There was one sur­vivor; a sol­dier by the name of Leopold Chi­nard from the Portsmouth, New Hamp­shire area.  He died sev­eral months later as he was burned over most of his body.  Kevin Cole was also at the scene and had some great images of a ter­ri­ble crash. I got stuck tak­ing pho­tos of fam­i­lies lin­ing up out­side the South End Morgue to view the bod­ies for identification.

The night the infa­mous World Air­lines Plane skid­ded off the run­away after an ice storm Gene Dixon was once again the first one there, raced out on the run­way and got a great Page One photo.  I was home in Roslin­dale tak­ing a nap about 6:30 PM with the radios blar­ing in the back­ground and I must have been count­ing the box as I remem­ber lying there and say­ing to myself 612 and jumped out of bed and started head­ing for Logan.   It was very slip­pery going and when I came down the ramp to the Tun­nel I skid­ded over a lane or two before I made my entrance. By the time I got there I only went to the gate the plane was assigned to. I pho­tographed the pas­sen­gers as they came back to the gate via a bus.

There are two inci­dents that I was per­son­ally involved in and one of them was a Sat­ur­day in the late ‘70s. It was about 11am and I had just walked out of the photo depart­ment office to go to the news­room when Tom Sul­li­van, the City Edi­tor came run­ning down yelling “every­one out, every­one out there is a plane crash at Logan!”  I took off run­ning down the stairs and rac­ing to the scene. I was really mov­ing and almost missed the ramp to the Xway North to take me to the Tun­nel and Logan. In those days all there was block­ing us from the run­ways at the South Gate was a sign and a guard. My friend from Chan­nel Seven, Richie Suskin, and I arrived at the same time after rac­ing to the scene.  We whizzed past him so fast we must have made his head spin.

FYI, if you did that now a days you would hit a bar­ri­cade and if you made it through that some­one would prob­a­bly shoot you. 

We raced out to where a cargo plane was burn­ing, try­ing to keep up with the fire appa­ra­tus rac­ing to the scene.  No one was both­er­ing us, as every­one was too busy try­ing to save lives. When we got there, I watched Richie go to one side of the crash, being pur­sued by a State Trooper who was at the scene.  I took many pho­tos as the access was great, then got back in my car and fol­lowed an ambu­lance out since I knew they were in con­tact with the tower mak­ing it safe to cross the run­ways.  All the other pho­tog­ra­phers were even­tu­ally brought out there by a Mass Port bus.

There is one more run­way expe­ri­ence I remem­ber very well. It was a week­day and box 612 was struck. All the media raced to the south gate to wait for the Mass Port bus. The bus would take us out to where there was a plane on the end of the run­way. A plane had an engine fire and had aborted take off.

I knew my good friend Billy Noo­nan, a Boston Fire­fighter, was work­ing and since he was the pho­tog­ra­pher with the arson squad he would be going to the scene. I said to a cou­ple of the pho­tog­ra­phers, “In a few min­utes there will be a lit­tle red car with its red lights on com­ing to this gate and I will be get­ting in it.” They just laughed at me.  Next thing they saw was me with my thumb out and the car stop­ping and tak­ing me to the scene.  I got a really good photo show­ing the Mass Port lad­der up, the plane with the escape slides deployed and the city of Boston in the back­ground.  It was a great photo of the incident.

A while later the bus with the rest of the pho­tog­ra­phers showed up.  Every­one started tak­ing pho­tos but by then the lad­der had been taken down and it was just a plane on the run­way. Dick Hur­witz the AP Chief Pho­tog­ra­pher saw me and thought I had come on the sec­ond bus and was glee­ful to tell me how happy he was to have got­ten there before me.  I laughed and said to him “take a look at tomorrow’s paper and remem­ber what you just said.” I kicked butt with my photo.

FYI, recently the fam­ily of Delvonte Tins­dale filed suit against Char­lotte, Charlotte-Douglas Inter­na­tional Air­port and US Airways. 

 

26Aug/122

Roland Oxton, The Man Who Was The King!!!

Fir­ing Squad! Cap­ture of a perp in Boston’s South End, late 60s or early 70s, Roland Oxton Photo.

Rol­lie Oxton, Pulitzer Prize Win­ner, my hero, men­tor, friend and I got to work with him at the old Record Amer­i­can where I started in this busi­ness.  Rol­lie was the King of his era. He cruised the streets of Boston for parts of 3 decades, always there when it happened.

Recently I made con­tact with his son David, the head of the art depart­ment at the Gov­er­nor Dum­mer School in Byfield, MA. We have exchanged emails and now I get a chance to dis­play some of his great images and talk about my hero.

When I was a kid grow­ing up out­side of Boston (Revere) and news­pa­pers were an impor­tant sta­ple of our lives, I got to see Rollie’s pho­tos all the time. I would look at news­pa­per and day­dream about being able to stay up all night and chase police­men, fire­fight­ers and be where the action was, just like him.  Once when I was with my father rid­ing in down­town Boston I saw him cruis­ing wear­ing his trade­mark hat. I was thrilled to have got­ten a glimpse of him.

In 1966 I got to join the paper where Rol­lie worked.  He was a God in the indus­try. If Danny Shee­han of the Globe was Cap­tain Mid­night, Rol­lie was King Mid­night. Globe peo­ple might dis­agree with me but I think Rol­lie almost always had the best pic­tures. They were great work friends and great com­peti­tors. Every­one knew and liked him. He knew them all, police, fire­fight­ers, pimps, pros­ti­tutes and a lot of the street peo­ple.  Some­times when I got to work his overnight shift dri­ving around in the marked com­pany car peo­ple would yell out “where is Rollie?”

Most of the other news pho­tog­ra­phers were in awe of him and every­one had a Rol­lie story about his great­ness. Ollie Noo­nan, Jr., another great Boston pho­tog­ra­pher who died in Viet­nam in a heli­copter crash while work­ing for AP had a great Rol­lie story. Ollie was work­ing the overnight shift for the Globe and responded to a build­ing fire on Com­mon­wealth Ave., in the Back Bay. There was fire show­ing and a woman was on a bal­cony wait­ing to be res­cued.  He looked around and no Rol­lie.  Wow, he thought he was finally going to beat the Mas­ter. Then the fire depart­ment throws their lad­der to res­cue the woman and who is stand­ing next to him, Rol­lie. It just did not hap­pen unless Rol­lie was there.

Boston Fire­fighter Mike King yelling for help at a Boston Fire, 1970s.

When I began Rol­lie was using a Mam­i­flex 120mm film cam­era.  A machine shop had set up an adapter on the side of his cam­era, which gave he a tooth­pick like han­dle to maneu­ver. This han­dle would snap into grooves on the adapter. Each groove was rep­re­sen­ta­tive of focus feet for the lens as most of the pho­tog­ra­phers from the 4/5 era zoned focused never focus­ing through the viewfinder. It must have worked, as his images were sharp as a tack.

He took so many great news pho­tos, and he could do any­thing there was to do with the cam­era but his best stuff was break­ing news. The day after the ter­ri­ble Sherry Bilt­more Hotel fire in 1963 he had a wrap around photo on the cover of the paper show­ing mul­ti­ple lad­ders up to the build­ing and peo­ple being res­cued while oth­ers had their hands out the win­dows hop­ing to be saved.  The Sherry Bilt­more Hotel was at 150 Mass Ave approx­i­mately where the Berklee Col­lege of Music now stands.

I haunted him, beg­ging to be able to ride with him and like myself he would rather be by him­self.  I was relent­less in my request and started show­ing up on Wednes­day and Sat­ur­day nights hop­ing to ride with him.  Some­times he would let me in the car and other times he would say “not tonight.”

Brighton mur­der vic­tim on Royce Road. Roland Oxton Photo

One Sun­day morn­ing we were cruis­ing through the Back Bay near Here­ford Street with me bab­bling and Rol­lie lis­ten­ing to the radios when he yells out Royce Road, Royce Road, I think it is in Brighton but please look it up.

We were there in about 8 min­utes; Rol­lie jumps out of the car, cir­cles the para­me­ter as I am still try­ing to get a shot and says lets go. I did not think he took a good photo but next day there it is a great shot of the body in front of the police cruis­ers headlights.

In the late 50s or early 60s, Rol­lie was assigned to take some pho­tos of the home­less and street peo­ple hang­ing around the Boston Com­mon. He took a photo of a per­son sup­pos­edly drunk on a park bench with empty bot­tles of liquor around her.  Albert “Dap­per” O’Neil a local politi­cian found out the photo might have been set up and took on the Record Amer­i­can. He set up at their Winthrop Square build­ing in down­town Boston. Dap­per had a car with signs and a mega­phone stand­ing in the mid­dle of the Square shout­ing out nasty’s about the paper.

Fully involved build­ing fire, 50s or 60s. Roland Oxton Photo

I worked the photo lab for many years on Sat­ur­day morn­ing and brought him in a cof­fee every week. One Sat­ur­day I walked in around 730 and told him there was a big fire on Tremont Street, the C. Craw­ford Hol­lidge Depart­ment Store was fully involved. It was oppo­site the Boston Com­mon, he cursed as he ran out know­ing he had been by there shortly before he came to the office. He must have been at the fire ten min­utes, took a cou­ple of pho­tos, came back and owned page one.

One night after some civil unrest in the City I was assigned to ride with him so he would not be alone. We were dri­ving around the South End and some­one made a deroga­tory remark to him. Rol­lie got out of the car and had a con­ver­sa­tion with the man as I stayed in my seat think­ing we were going to get shot or some­thing. He feared nothing.

Up close and per­sonal is the way Rol­lie work­ing, as close as you could get to the fire and before yel­low tape. Roland Oxton Photo

Later in the overnight there was a fire in Rox­bury. We both went and my pho­tos sucked. I was tired and shot noth­ing of any inter­est. He took a cou­ple of his images and put my name on the cap­tion sheet so I would not look foolish.

This is from an orig­i­nal clip I have. David Oxton pieced it together via Pho­to­shop. Roland Oxton Photo.

 

The morn­ing after the Guilded Cage explo­sion Jan­u­ary of 1966, on Boyl­ston Street in Boston’s “Com­bat Zone” he came into the office at the end of his overnight shift and the edi­tor, Sam Born­stein asked him if he had any­thing good and Rol­lie replied no. He printed one photo, an over­all of the destruc­tion; another wrap around and Sam could not believe Rol­lie said he did not have any­thing very good.

Boston Fire­fighter Paul Stan­ley work­ing of a rope from Lad­der 15 res­cues a woman from the Charles River. They set up on the Mass Ave. Bridge for the res­cue, early 70s. FF Stan­ley retired this year and his last day on the job work­ing on Res­cue Two had a maas­sive fire in East Boston. Roland Oxton Photo

Rol­lie did not get excited over many of his pho­tos but the one of Paul Stan­ley res­cu­ing a woman from the Charles River really turned him on and another one where sev­eral Boston Cops cap­tured a sus­pect with their guns drawn from the oppo­site side of a fence he enjoyed.

On another occa­sion he comes back from his shift and prints a photo of a car fire on the Xway but this time he had the car explod­ing and peo­ple includ­ing fire­fight­ers run­ning from the wreck­age.  He left a short cap­tion and went home.  As soon as the edi­tors saw it they were on the phone to him ask­ing for more infor­ma­tion, he was so hum­ble about his skills.

In the late 60s there was a short-lived riot on Blue Hill Avenue in Rox­bury. It began with the tak­ing over of a cou­ple of wel­fare offices and ended with a group of angry folks run­ning down Blue Hill Ave from Grove Hall destroy­ing many mom and pop busi­ness who never recov­ered. Rol­lie was asked to start his shift early incase some­thing hap­pened and of course it did not hap­pen till he got there.

He also knew how to make nice fea­ture pho­tos and got many good sun­rise pho­tos around Cas­tle Island of morn­ing fish­er­men.  He worked Sun­days so he did many Easter Sun­rise Ser­vices. Another beau­ti­ful photo he made was a push­cart per­son mov­ing his equip­ment into place early one morn­ing. He knew how to use what­ever light there was or they wasn’t. He could do it all.

I was finally able to track down the photo of my sis­ter Louise hang­ing a stock­ing above a fire­place. My mother’s fam­ily recently had a get together, and it prompted me to search for some of the places she lived in Somerville, Cam­bridge and Brook­line area before mov­ing to Nahant. One of the loca­tions was Perry Street, which is the loca­tion where the photo of my sis­ter hang­ing the stock­ing was shot. The cou­ple who now own the house invited us inside to look around, and I viewed the liv­ing room where that photo was made. Inter­est­ingly, the fire­place man­tel, which looks like dark wood in my father’s old photo, is now restored to it’s orig­i­nal con­di­tion — and it is actu­ally con­structed of a light col­ored mar­ble. I’m guess­ing the old hol­i­day photo of my sis­ter was shot around 1948. I stud­ied the photo care­fully and real­ized that my father seems to have lit the photo with a light placed in the fire­place. I had always assumed that the strong light on my sis­ter was pro­vided by fire­light. It’s a great shot, and I can see why it became so pop­u­lar. David Oxton Description.

Rol­lie had made a pic­ture of his old­est daugh­ter Louise in front of the fire­place at Christ­mas time when she was very young. A beau­ti­fully lite photo with the Xmas stock­ing hang­ing and the fire­place going.  The funny thing about this photo it resur­faced every dozen or so years with a dif­fer­ent name around Christ­mas time and always got a great display.

Roland Oxton & Stan­ley For­man, Boston Press Pho­tog­ra­phers Awards Din­ner, 1978.  Rol­lie  & I share in the team Pulitzer for Fea­ture in 1979 in our cov­er­age for the Her­ald in the “Bliz­zard of 78.”

 

After Rol­lie retired I would see him and his wife at the Dunkin Donut at Bell’s Cir­cle in Revere. It was a real treat for me and I hope for him. He died in 1984. Rol­lie is buried in the ceme­tery oppo­site the Nahant Police Sta­tion.  He must still be lis­ten­ing to police calls.

His son David added some his­tory for this blog and many pho­tos of which I hope are prop­erly dis­played, as he was the best.   

My father served in the US Army dur­ing WWII and was in both Europe and Japan. He was a mem­ber of the photo corps. While in Japan, he had his own Jeep and it had the words Mar­ion Louise writ­ten on the side (the first names of my mother and old­est sis­ter). My father died in Octo­ber 1984. He was 73. He was born and grew up in Chelsea. He only attended school until the 6th grade. His father died that year, and he went out to work to help sup­port his mother.

Please visit David’s web­site and Rollie’s grand­son Timothy’s websites.

http://davidoxton.com/

 

http://vimeo.com/timoxton

Fol­low­ing are sev­eral more pho­tos and mem­o­ries of Rol­lie.  This blog was writ­ten with won­der­ful thoughts and memories. 

Roland Oxton, Archie New­man, Gene Dixon, John Lan­ders Jr., on the set as extras for the Brinks’ Movie late 60s or early 70s.

Leo Tier­ney, Archie New­man, Roland Oxton, Dan Shee­han at the BPPA Awards Din­ner and Rol­lie hold­ing the Rams­dell Tro­phy which he won 5 times.

 

In Dorch­ester there is a Rox­ton Street and one night Rol­lie and I went there so he could send a photo to his son Ronald who was serv­ing in the Army.

 

In 1979 I wrote a let­ter to Roland on his retire­ment. David Oxton sent me a copy dur­ing our recent cor­re­spon­dence. 33 years later and I still had the same mem­o­ries and thoughts although I had for­got­ten about this later.

 

Rol­lie in Winter!

 

4Aug/122

Halt Or I’ll Shoot! My Gun Arrest That Did Not Happen

BPD Offi­cer Ken Jame­son mak­ing an arrest in the on the cor­ner of Beach and Wash­ing­ton Streets, down­town Boston, for­merly known as the Com­bat Zone.

Grow­ing up in Revere in the 50s and 60s I was friendly with a lot of cops. Most of them never had to unhol­ster their weapon. Prob­a­bly a good thing as reg­u­lar tar­get prac­tice was not a reg­u­lar practice.

It was a hot sum­mer day, July 4th I think, around 1980, no traf­fic, sun shin­ing, about 8 in the morn­ing. I was dri­ving down Colum­bia Road on the way to the office.  Colum­bia Road sep­a­rates Rox­bury and Dorch­ester  some­times it can be a dicey area. I looked up the street to the cor­ner of Colum­bia Road and Quincy Street and saw this group of 3 or 4 teenagers flip­ping what I thought was a foot­ball. I smiled to myself think­ing, “what fun.”

Then I saw a dis­traught young woman stand­ing out­side of her car cry­ing and scream­ing and I knew it wasn’t a foot­ball they were toss­ing. Yep, it was her pock­et­book going from hand to hand. I put the pedal to the metal in my “Vet” (not really I had a 1975 Buick Sky­lark) and began the pur­suit for the bad guys. I acti­vated my siren bur­glar alarm so they might think I was a cop and went fly­ing after them.

At one point I could have crushed one of the perps against one of the pil­lars from the rail­road bridge we were going under, but thank­fully I had the pres­ence of mind not to. The group ran into a big park try­ing to get away.

I pulled up on the side­walk jumped out of my car and assumed the posi­tion I saw cops do on TV, crouched down using my car as a shield. I was ready to make my cap­ture but first I had to catch them. I reached onto my belt, grabbed my pager and made believe I had a gun. I yelled, “HALT OR I’ll SHOOT”!

My mind was rac­ing and think­ing what am I going to do if they do stop?

BANG, I mean BANG a gun went off! “WTF, was that?” I was shocked; I knew I did not shoot any­thing and I thought I must be in a movie and even looked at my fin­gers, won­der­ing how this happened.

Did I have some mys­te­ri­ous pow­ers? I was look­ing to see if there was smoke com­ing out of my fin­gers like watch­ing an old cow­boy movie where you could see the smoke com­ing out the bar­rel of a weapon just discharged.

Still mys­ti­fied, I looked around and to my right was a tow truck with the dri­ver out on the side of his truck and his 45-caliber pis­tol in the air, which he just fired. Then he runs after the kids, picks up a large rock and throws it at them, hit­ting one of them in the back.

I was still in shock won­der­ing what would have hap­pened had he struck the thieves? I have no idea if he fired at them or in the air to scare them. I looked at him, waved and left, still shak­ing. I would guess he returned the pock­et­book to the woman after he retrieved it when they dropped it.

I con­tin­ued to the office, told sev­eral peo­ple in the news­room the story and had them laugh­ing. Next day in the photo lab wall was a photo of the Cisco Kid, with his som­brero on, his bands of bul­lets hang­ing from his shoul­ders and a pic­ture of me inserted instead of Cisco’s face. It was really funny.

But being there for gun arrests was very unusual back then. Cops did not pull guns out fre­quently. I can tell you there were many news pho­tog­ra­phers who never got pic­tures of a gun arrest. I have been very lucky that way.

My first gun arrest was a few blocks from the office when we were down­town. I got to the cap­ture of a rob­bery sus­pect at the cor­ner of Devon­shire and Milk Streets and they had the sus­pect over a car. All of a sud­den, one of the cops lifted the gun up and I got the shot. Could I have yelled show me the gun? I for­get. Page one though.

I had a streak of about six-gun arrests in less than six months back then. It started in Peabody when reporter Bob Kee­ley and I were dri­ving back to Boston and on the State Police radio I heard a BOLO about an armed rob­bery. Within a minute or two a cruiser spot­ted the truck about a mile in front of us.

We raced to the scene. The cop ordered the dri­ver out by gun­point and I took many pho­tos. I had taken some really good pho­tos and Bob ended up doing a story on the cap­ture. Works out the sus­pect did not rob any­one and I don’t remem­ber if any charges were filed. He report­edly mis­tak­enly left a gas sta­tion with­out pay­ing for gas.

Dur­ing that streak I was cruis­ing down Wash­ing­ton Street in what used to be called the com­bat zone (Wash­ing­ton and Beach Streets) when an inci­dent hap­pened and there I was tak­ing pho­tos of another gun arrest.

MDC Cop and BPD Offi­cer mak­ing an arrest of an alledged stolen car plus other charges against the perp. MDC Police were com­bined with the State Police many years ago.

There was also the time there was a bolo for a per­son wanted for a stab­bing or some­thing like that as I was com­ing to work on my Fri­day morn­ing mid­night shift. All of a sud­den the MDC police (now com­bined with State Police) spot­ted the wanted vehi­cle and chased it from the other side of Boston to about 100 feet of where I was parked.

As I was run­ning over, the cop got out of his cruiser, gun drawn yelling for the perp to put his hands up. I ran over yelling “pho­tog­ra­pher, flash going off” as I did not want the cop to think it was a flash from a gun.

Another thing most news peo­ple don’t get to hear is the sound of gun­fire and I have been at those inci­dents also. The scari­est one was on Boston’s Fen­way. I was in the Ken­more Square area when the call came in for an armed rob­bery on Jer­sey Street, near Fen­way Park. It was at one of those mom and pop mar­kets. Boston Police Office Gene O’Neil was shot at and the win­dow of the store was blown out from the gun­fire. He was not hit but it brought scores of cops and cruis­ers to the area.

The chase ended up on the Fen­way and maybe 25 or more cops sur­rounded the area and there was one shot fired, then there was scores of “POP, POP, POP” sounds. It sounded like every­one with a gun was fir­ing it. I hid behind a wall on the over­pass next to a cop who stood behind his cruiser. I remem­ber when his dis­patch­ers called ask­ing if he needed more help he told them “no” think­ing any more cops there and who knows who will get shot.

The perp was not cap­tured but in the spring a body of a man believed to be the sus­pect was found in the Muddy River where he had been chased and fired upon.

But some­times I do use my com­mon sense. I was work­ing the overnight shift and there was a call for a sus­pect wanted for some­thing in Brighton. BPD had him cor­nered in a back­yard behind a build­ing at the inter­sec­tion of Com­mon­wealth and Brighton Avenue, called Packard Square. I ran down the side of the build­ing towards the back­yard and all of a sud­den a shot was fired in the back­yard. I turned around and ran back to street and instead took the shot of the perp being put into the wagon. Com­mon sense kicked it!

28Mar/122

Fenway 100, Stanley 66

July 10, 2011, 66 years old

Yes, there it is my name is up in lights, day­lights that is and don’t think I don’t love it.

I have always been a Red Sox fan. I prob­a­bly went to my first game before I started remem­ber­ing all that I remem­ber. My father was a big sports fan and it trick­led down to me. He used to love to go to Bru­ins and Red Sox games. The Celtics came to Boston long after he was a teenager so he did not see as many of those games. I remem­ber him tak­ing me to after­noon Celtics game; com­ing home and then he would take my mother and go back to the Gar­den to see the Bru­ins at night. Since he worked most week­ends, it was a big deal if he was off on a Sun­day. My par­ents espe­cially liked when the Mon­treal Cana­di­ans were play­ing as the fans would sing French songs and the Gar­den would be in a fes­tive mood.

We grew up with fam­ily all around our neigh­bor­hood and my Uncle Jack Burnim, a real Red Sox fan, would go to a Sox game every chance he had and many times offered to take me with him. The only prob­lem with going with him is if you were with him you had to eat a hot dog almost every inning and lots of pop­corn too (to mix in all the Fen­way tastes). To hear his grand­son, Judge David Lowy, tell the story, after a while it became tor­ture to eat so much junk food.

Jack took us to many games; one being the Memo­r­ial Day game against the Yan­kees in 1961, the year Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s home run record. I just Googled the box score and although I remem­bered all the home runs by Man­tle and Maris I did not remem­ber Bill “Moose” Skowrun’s 2 homers along with Yogi Berra hit­ting one that day. Man­tle had 2 home runs that game, his #12 and 13 of the still-early sea­son, and Maris hit 2 home runs, bring­ing his total so-far to 11. Both were well on their way to chal­lenge Ruth’s record of 60 home runs in one sea­son.   Since that sea­son, my stan­dard for judg­ing whether some­one was going to break Babe Ruth’s years’ record of 60 in a sea­son has been if the per­son has reached 11 or 13 homers by Memo­r­ial Day like Man­tle and Maris did that year.

When I think about how mes­mer­ized I was by Mark McGuire’s quest to break Maris’ record only to find out it was tainted; it still pisses me off. Such a big deal break­ing it, but really not a big deal. That is what aster­isks are for. I think most peo­ple in 1961 were root­ing for Mickey Man­tle to beat out Maris for Ruth’s record but an injury late in the sea­son took him out of the run­ning.  Accord­ing to the movie “61” about the chase, Man­tle was root­ing for Maris to pull the feat off anyway.

Going to Fen­way Park was an easy task when you grew up in Revere. When there was noth­ing to do you could always hop on the train at Revere Beach Sta­tion, ride to Gov­ern­ment Cen­ter (it was called Scol­lay Square back then) trans­fer or walk to get to Park Street Sta­tion and then get the trol­ley to Ken­more Square. You had to make sure you got the right trol­ley oth­er­wise you ended up in never, never land some­where off of Hunt­ing­ton Avenue and no one from Revere would know where they were.

Of course you prob­a­bly would not have walked from Scol­lay Square, as it would have been another fee of a nickel to get back on a train at a dif­fer­ent stop. Those trol­leys were great back then; you would rock and roll all the way there. The old cars were shaky, crowded and not air-conditioned. Can you imag­ine a non air-conditioned train after spend­ing the day in the hot sun at Fen­way, not fun! After a day game we would go to the Ken­more Hotel to the lit­tle ice cream par­lor and get a deli­cious Sun­dae (and I mean deli­cious) cost­ing a quarter.

Any night a crew of us hang­ing around in the 50s and 60s could go to Fen­way watch Dick Rad­datz mow them down along with the other 10,000 peo­ple who may be in atten­dance. Jim Pier­sal, a long time Red Sox cen­ter fielder, vis­ited our local gro­cery store, Arthur’s Cream­ery, while endors­ing a choco­late drink and, yes, I got his autograph.

Tom Yawkey was prob­a­bly the only rea­son the Red Sox stayed in Boston with the small crowds in atten­dance. It all changed in 1967, the “Impos­si­ble Dream Year” when sell­outs became nor­mal busi­ness. Back then, there were no play­offs, you were the best team in base­ball in your league or you ended your sea­son when the sea­son ended. With the two num­ber one teams play­ing the World Series you got the best of the best, at least supposedly.

Dick Williams showed up as man­ager in 1967 and things just came together. I did not cover any of the games as a pho­tog­ra­pher but I had a press pass and could go to any game I wanted and sit in the photographer’s box. I did not take as much advan­tage of the perk as I should have. This was before the photographer’s box next to their dugout. Every­thing was shot from above or you floated around look­ing for an aisle seat. A big treat going to a game with the press pass was to be able to eat in the press lunch­room, where there was deli­cious food and it was free. A tip of $1.00 was the stan­dard and where could you eat as much as you want of good food for a buck.

The week­end the Red Sox won the pen­nant in 1967 every­one was work­ing. I was in the lab at the paper. We were play­ing the Min­nesota Twins and had to win both Sat­ur­day and Sunday’s game while one of the other teams in the league lost. I was very busy with many rolls of film being shipped in to make our many edi­tions. Then it was over, the Sox won and John Lan­ders had a great photo of Jim Lon­borg being car­ried off the field on his teammate’s shoul­ders after beat­ing the great pitcher Dean Chance in what you could call a non-playoff, play­off game, win­ner take all.

I went with pho­tog­ra­pher Kevin Cole to St. Louis for the World Series that year. I never got to the park as I worked out of the St. Louis Post Dis­patch doing all of Kevin’s lab work and trans­mit­ting over 60 pho­tos back to Boston to be used in our edi­tions. Kevin did his usual great job catch­ing all the action.

Ear­lier in the sea­son Lon­borg got engaged and the hunt for his fiancé was on and I was on the chase. There I was at Fen­way Park look­ing for his fiancé, not know­ing where to look, all of a sud­den a car pulls up by the player’s entrance, Lon­borg gets out of the car and she was dri­ving. Very gra­ciously, she held up her hand to dis­play her ring. I prob­a­bly yelled out ask­ing her to hold up her hand, thank­fully I knew which hand the ring was on and if you were dri­ving the left hand is on the win­dow side. Lon­borg did not marry this woman, and went on to be a South Shore area den­tist. I have never seen him again in person.

Ken “Hawk” Har­rel­son throw­ing his cast away, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital

When Ken “Hawk” Har­rel­son (now the Chicago White Sox announcer) had his cast removed from leg injury I was at Saint Elizabeth’s Hos­pi­tal and asked him to throw the cast away for the cam­era. He was a very media savvy ath­lete. Har­rel­son came to the Red Sox dur­ing their Pen­nant drive to replace the injured Tony Conigliaro.

Carl Yast­trzem­ski, Tony Conigliaro, Hank Aaron, open­ing day 1976

In the Conigliaro era there was always some­thing going on. What­ever he did we did. There was the night he got into a car acci­dent in Somerville and was taken to the hos­pi­tal. Then I was cov­er­ing his younger brother Richie play­ing foot­ball for Swamp­scott High School and the whole Conigliaro fam­ily was there. I was assigned to show every­one. I was tak­ing some pho­tos of the fam­ily and Tony came play­fully charg­ing at me like he was going to tackle me. Of course, I wasn’t sure whether or not he would throw me to the ground so I moved out of the way. I met his brother Billy sev­eral times as he was in high school with a friend of mine from Swamp­scott, Susan Feldman.

Jim Willoughby, Rick Wise, Juan Beniquez, Doug Grif­fin, Fred Lynn, Dick Drago, Reg­gie Cleve­land, Dick Pole, Johnny Pesky, Denny Doyle, Carl Yas­trzem­ski, Dwight Evans, Bob Mont­gomery, Rico Petro­celli Might have been 1975, start of World Series?

In 1975, when Car­leton Fisk hit is game win­ning home run against Cincin­nati in the World Series I was in the photographer’s box shoot­ing color film watch­ing Fisk wav­ing his home run ball fair. I ran out on the field with every­one else and it was fun. Still haven’t found those slides.

Oops! Danielle Tor­rez, with score­card in hand knows the Red Sox sea­son is over after her hus­band Mike gave up a 3 run homer to Bucky Dent!

Bucky Dent hits his game win­ning 3 run homer and I was the floater for the one game play­off with the Yan­kees in 1978. I was walk­ing around try­ing to get “dif­fer­ent pho­tos” for the later edi­tions. I was behind the home plate screen tak­ing pho­tos of Mike Tor­rez pitch­ing and keep­ing an eye on his wife Danielle who also behind the back­stop.  Dent came up to the plate and hit his blast and the Red Sox sea­son was over. Danielle knew it also and I had this really good photo of her expres­sion, which got a one col­umn cut in the paper. The front-page head­line the next day was this very, very, very small type, which said “Red Sox Lose” and you were not a base­ball fan you would not have noticed. Sam Cohen our great sports edi­tor always had great ideas to be different.

Of course there was Bill Lee, Red Sox pitcher; talk about some­one who danced to his own drum­mer!  Must have been a Wednes­day night when he walked off the team or some­thing like that as I was work­ing and I was dis­patched to his Bel­mont home to get a shot of him. I was in front of his house when he came jog­ging up the street. I stood there and took some pho­tos of him arriv­ing, fol­lowed him down the dri­ve­way and of course he knew I was tak­ing his photo as he acknowl­edged my pres­ence. Next week I heard from Jerry Buck­ley the Red Sox pho­tog­ra­pher back then that Lee had said he was stalked and I came out behind the bushes to get his photo. Two sides to a story, he was danc­ing as far as I was concerned.

When Oil Can Boyd (a Red Sox pitcher) flipped his lid so to speak reporter Ron Gol­lobin and I were sent to his Chelsea apart­ment try­ing to seek him out for what­ever he wanted to say. It did not go to well. He came out the door, spot­ted us and took steps towards us. He was yelling at me flay­ing his arms and Gol­lobin stepped between us. He cre­ated a real photo opp. In that same era while hon­ey­moon­ing in Hawaii I bumped into the very friendly Dwight Evans and his wife vaca­tion­ing there.

There were many side­bars through my years of Red Sox cov­er­age. There were the 4 peo­ple mur­dered at Sammy White’s Bowl­ing Alley, Sep­tem­ber 22, 1980 in Brighton. The for­mer Red Sox catcher owned the alley. I was out­side when the police inves­ti­ga­tion was tak­ing place and got a photo of a dis­traught rel­a­tive wait­ing for word from the Boston Police.

In 1986, Red Sox vs. the Mets for the World Series, every­one was excited.  I was with reporter Susan Wor­nick, Neil Unger­lieder (now head of our inter­net site, “thebostonchannel.com) and Chan­nel Five Berra­neck Fel­low, Rebecca Rowl­ings. We were doing a story about the pros­ti­tutes doing busi­ness in Boston. We pulled over on Wash­ing­ton Street near the for­mer Wang The­atre to watch the end of the game, as my com­pany car was equipped with a TV.

Neil who is a very big Red Sox fan com­mented, “the Red Sox are going to win a World Series!” We were very intent watch­ing; know­ing if they won our story would change to local cel­e­bra­tions. Then it hap­pened, Bill Buck­ner missed the grounder to first in the tenth inning after the Red Sox were up 3 to 2 in games and every­thing unfolded. It was over, and all that was left was the Red Sox to try and recover the next night. We all know what hap­pened after that, it took 18 more years to finally win a World Series bring­ing the total up to 86 years between championships.

I was at Fen­way Park when the Red Sox came home in the early morn­ing hours. In those days we were a wel­come sight to the play­ers and had good access to the bus and the play­ers. Pitcher Bob “Steamer” Stan­ley one of the nicest ath­let­ics you could ever meet got off the bus and there was a fan yelling, “Bob you’re the best!” It was just after the ongo­ing con­tro­versy of whether he threw a wild pitch or the catcher Rich Ged­man had a passed ball. Most think it was a passed ball but he took the hit gra­ciously. A lit­tle name-dropping here, his daugh­ter Kristin worked at Chan­nel Five as a pro­ducer and I went to her wed­ding in 2010.

After that there was the time reporter Jack Harper and I went into the Red Sox dress­ing room, before yel­low tape, when all you needed to do was show up at Fen­way show your Fen­way Pass and walk around includ­ing the locker room. We walked in and there were a cou­ple of play­ers sit­ting there (must have been after the “86” loss) includ­ing Jim Rice. Every­one knew Mr. Rice did not like the media back then. If looks could kill Jack and I would not be here now.

Red Sox World Series Parade, 2004, 86 years after the last one.

Today, I do very lit­tle Red Sox cov­er­age although I was there in the 90s after they won the Pen­nant by beat­ing the Angels in the play­offs, ran out on the field with every­one else to the pitcher’s mound for the cel­e­bra­tion and got excel­lent video. I cov­ered the local cel­e­bra­tions after they won the Series in 04 and 07 and hope they do it again while I am still working.

Johnny Damon, Molly and Han­nah, great Christ­mas card, 2004

But my high­light of Fen­way will always be get­ting my birth­day wish up on the bleacher screen unless I ever get to throw out the first pitch and make a fool out of myself when I can­not reach the plate.

 

13Feb/121

Two Buildings, Tons of Memories

5 Winthrop Square, Down­town Boston, Feb­ru­ary 2012.

Novem­ber 22, 1966, first day on the job, my job for life.

Reported at 7 am for an 8 o’clock shift, Mor­ris Ostroff, the man in charge of the lab, comes in at 8 smok­ing a cigar as long as he is tall.

Mor­ris hands me an apron, sponge and states, “fol­low me.” It is my job to keep the 5 wet dark­rooms clean, make sure the chem­i­cals are fresh and bring Mor­ris’ daily play of num­bers to his bookie. I learned how to play the num­bers in more ways than I already played it.

It is three years after the assas­si­na­tion of JFK and I hear the story of how the paper put out a extra edi­tion of the shoot­ing and when the paper hit the streets the head­line was okay but the first edi­tions did not have the story inside the paper. It was cor­rected quickly.

Less than a month on the job I had my first big story, 8 dead after a gaso­line tanker and a com­muter rail train col­lide on the Everett/Chelsea line. I owned the paper and resent­ment for my 24/7 work habits irked my fel­low pho­tog­ra­phers. Noth­ing has changed 45 plus years later. Won my first con­test with the page one photo.

Dur­ing the tur­bu­lent 60s there was always some­thing to cover. We had hur­ri­canes, bliz­zards, nor’easters, flood­ing and any other havoc weather could play.

There was draft card burn­ings, the Pen­ta­gon Papers with Daniel Ells­berg at the Boston fed­eral build­ing along with many anti Viet­nam War demon­stra­tions which many times led to riots.

Mar­tin Luther King’s assas­si­na­tion and the reac­tions of the Boston peo­ple. Bobby Kennedy’s mur­der with cov­er­age locally and nationally.

William Ran­dolph Hearst, Jr., drop­ping in to use the phones while on a visit to one of his chil­dren attend­ing a Boston school. He told the city desk he was not there if any­one was look­ing for him, espe­cially his wife. Long before cell phones were even thought of.

Work­ing with Sam Cohen the sports edi­tor who in his report­ing days walked out of a Jack Dempsey press con­fer­ence at the old Boston Gar­den after Dempsey made an anti-Semitic remark. Cohen also held out the great Ray Lussier photo of Bobby Orr scor­ing the win­ning goal to win the Stan­ley Cup to get an extra day of news­pa­per pur­chas­ing for souvenirs.

Red Sox “Impos­si­ble Dream” 1967, got them to the World Series!

Lis­ten­ing to overnight city edi­tor John Bishop talk about the exe­cu­tions he cov­ered at Cherry Hill Prison in Charlestown.

Mor­ris Ostroff telling how he stood out­side the prison with his 4/5 graphic cam­era and flash pow­der wait­ing for the hearse with the bod­ies of Saco and Vanzetti.

Watch­ing copy edi­tor, Eddy Gray read­ing and past­ing the wire copy of the Sharon Tate mur­der in August of 1969. Tate was mar­ried to Roman Polan­ski whose saga is still being played out and her mur­derer Charles Man­son is still in a Cal­i­for­nia Prison.

Hip­pies in the Boston Com­mon with the mar­i­juana smok­ers blow­ing the weed smoke in everybody’s face includ­ing the cops.

BPD used to send in their TPF squads with riot sticks and canines and thank­fully the dog that was run­ning behind me just missed as I could hear the growl­ing and man­aged to keep him inches away from los­ing part of my butt.

I had the same thing hap­pen in Methuen, MA cov­er­ing the floods along the Mer­ri­mack River. I walked into a back­yard and saw the dog­house and a chain laced inside it. I knew to start run­ning and the only thing that saved me was the chain was shorter than my foot­steps were long. Just think, twice I beat the nick­name half ass instead of ass—-. I cov­ered all types of crime when crime ruled the pages of the local news­pa­pers and I didn’t get beat often.

While cov­er­ing Ted Kennedy and the Chap­paquid­dick fatal car crash in 1969 I stayed at the Har­bor­side Hotel on Martha’s Vine­yard ate steak and eggs for break­fast and lob­ster and steak for din­ner and I only had to sign for it.

I was sent down there for 1 day and ended up stay­ing for ten. I learned how to wash my clothes in a sink till my par­ents put some clothes for me on an airplane.

Martha’s Vine­yard was the last place I drank vodka as on a Sat­ur­day after­noon start­ing around 4 pm I started drink­ing Bloody Mary’s with the best cel­ery stalks ever, laid down at six and was for the most part par­a­lyzed for 24 hours. Of course, at six the paper was look­ing for my pho­tos which I did not have till I dragged myself down to the ferry dock and cap­tured the page one image.

One of the fun­nier inci­dents in the build­ing was when I set up a very nosy pho­tog­ra­pher. We all knew he was read­ing our mail and or notes in our lit­tle cubby mail­boxes in the photo depart­ment. I put a note on my mail­box addressed to me and taped it to the open­ing. I left enough of an open­ing so he could read it. My note was to him and I wrote things about his snoop­ing call­ing him, well, I can­not repeat it. Best part was he could not say anything.

I did the same thing at Chan­nel Five when another pho­tog­ra­pher I worked with liked check­ing all our mail­boxes. We have a senior­ity shift pick at the sta­tion thus I worked evenings for many years. To get him I put a note in my mail­box directed to the news direc­tor Emily Rooney, thank­ing her for putting me in a bet­ter shift. I said, “I am sure this will be upset­ting to this pho­tog­ra­pher, but I appre­ci­ated it. Within a day the pho­tog­ra­pher went in com­plain­ing and of course Emily did not know what he was talk­ing about. In this case the pho­tog­ra­pher came up to me and admit­ted, “You got me!”

On Sat­ur­day nights we used to set up a wood plank between two chairs and have a feast of Chi­nese food from the House of Roy in Chinatown.

The Christ­mas Eve that pho­tog­ra­pher Car­roll Myett lite him­self on fire using rub­bery cement to seal his falling apart shoes.

Then of course there was the great pho­tog­ra­pher Gene Dixon who had got­ten from the joke store these lit­tle plas­tic shaped molds, which looked like dog poop. Usu­ally on Sat­ur­days when the bosses left he would plant them around the build­ing for the cus­to­dian Frank to find. Then one Sat­ur­day night Frank saw what he thought was one of Gene’s toys, reach down to scoop it with his hands and you know the rest, Gene had brought his dog to work that night.

From the Herald.

When we moved to 300 Har­ri­son Avenue in Boston’s South End I don’t think any­one regret­ted the move.  A newer build­ing, park­ing, air con­di­tion­ing and a chance to com­pete with a big­ger staff.

At our new build­ing we had a much larger news­room, more offices for dif­fer­ent depart­ments and more enlarg­ers to print our pictures.

We were now a broad­sheet news­pa­per for almost 10 years and the big­ger the paper the more copy we needed, very exciting.

For me, this build­ing is packed with mem­o­ries also, but with an esca­la­tor instead of a shaky ele­va­tor. Wow when I think of the old ele­va­tor at 5 Winthrop Square, scary.

There was the day I was pulling out from the front of the build­ing and struck a young kid on a bike. He was not injured but his bike suf­fered fatal injuries. I gave him $100.00 and took him and the bike home to his parents.

At the old build­ing, I also had a com­muter end up on my hood after the sun’s glare blinded me. He was also not injured and would not even let me buy him a cup of cof­fee. He must have been jay walking.

Tom Sul­li­van, our Sat­ur­day city edi­tor, run­ning down to the photo depart­ment yelling place crash at Logan “every­body go!” It was a cargo plane, which crashed, and six dead.

The same Tom Sul­li­van stand­ing there in his paja­mas after the edi­tor of the paper had called look­ing for him before his shift ended and he had to come in from home to answer the phone the next time Sam Born­stein, the edi­tor called.

Eddie Gray the copy edi­tor, light­ing the waste­bas­ket on fire as he flipped his cigar ashes as he edited copy.

Edi­tor Sam Born­stein, yelling at a copy per­son because he did not get the cream cheese spread on his bagel.

How many times did I run out of the news­room, down the steps to jump in my car rac­ing to a story, includ­ing the fire escape col­lapse? Prob­a­bly always look­ing fool­ish but it worked for me.

I worked with the best news peo­ple there was in Boston start­ing with the old rewrite sys­tem when reporters called in their sto­ries and some­one was there to rewrite it for our many edi­tions. As the years went on there were more reporters writ­ing their own copy.

I could list so many great news peo­ple but I know I would leave some out so I will take a pass.

Ed. Note: I was moti­vated to write this after Joe Fitzger­ald, long time writer, both sports and news of the Her­ald did a remem­brance of 300 Har­ri­son Avenue after they moved to that office build­ing I men­tion. A lot of the peo­ple and inci­dents I men­tion have a more in-depth story in my other blogs.

Link to Joe Fitzger­ald column:

http://bostonherald.com/news/columnists/view/20220129family_tree_provided_boards_for_new_herald

 

 

 

 

20Dec/117

Firefighters Know How to Bury Their Own

Worces­ter Fire­fight­ers honor their fallen hero.

In the last 12 years I have cov­ered the funeral of six Worces­ter Fire­fight­ers. Five of the six died at the Cold Stor­age Ware­house fire on Decem­ber 6, 1999 and the sixth one was last week, just two days after the 12th anniver­sary of that awful fatal fire. Six fire­fight­ers died in the Cold Stor­age fire in 1999 and I would have cov­ered all of them except one of the funer­als was on Sat­ur­day.  I was the pool for most or all of them due to my con­nec­tions with the Boston Fire Depart­ment who helped set up their ser­vices in 1999. For this funeral they assisted and brought their ramp for plac­ing the cas­ket on top of a piece of appa­ra­tus and for the atten­dants to carry it into the church and the gravesite.

I am always reminded from a speech Boston Fire­fight­ers Local 718 Pres­i­dent Neal San­tan­gelo gave many years ago as he addressed the new fire­fight­ers at their swear­ing in. He said, “We will help you to be safe and in the end we will bury you.” I thought that day how scary for the new Jakes, who have not even been to a real fire and were already receiv­ing notice of the real­ity of the job.

Worces­ter Fire­fight­ers bring­ing the cas­ket with Fire­fighter Jon Davies into Church for the memo­r­ial service.

This funeral was no dif­fer­ent than the many I have cov­ered through the years, not just in Worces­ter but many of the cities and towns around our cov­er­age area. Many mem­o­ries of fire­fighter funer­als stick out in my mind. In 1972, when the Ven­dome Hotel Col­lapsed killing 8 Boston Fire­fight­ers, I can remem­ber cov­er­ing the funeral with all the cas­kets lined up at the Cathe­dral of the Holy Cross in Boston’s South End.  In Clin­ton, the wife of a fire­fighter killed in the line of duty, wear­ing her somber black dress, com­ing down the steps of the Church on that freez­ing cold day with her husband’s charred hel­met in her hands. In Stoughton, the same thing, another hel­met being clutched tightly in the hands of a firefighter.

Com­ing back to last week in Worces­ter, I watched the hel­met of fallen fire­fighter Jon Davies being car­ried by his part­ner on the Res­cue, Brain Car­roll, who was also caught in the col­lapse. He escaped seri­ous injury after being pulled from the rub­ble after being trapped for at least 45 min­utes. He spent less than 48 hours in the hos­pi­tal.  How pained he must have been as he fol­lowed the fire truck with the cas­ket of Davies being brought to his final rest­ing place. He might have been won­der­ing why Jon and not me and his eulogy cer­tainly expressed the emo­tions he was going through.

The day of the inci­dent reporter Kelly Tuthill and I set up at the Worces­ter Firefighter’s Memo­r­ial to watch and talk to peo­ple com­ing to pay their respects. We got a ter­rific inter­view from a high school friend of Davies who was in the area when he found out and stopped to say a prayer. The sad­dest one I saw was a woman who just hugged the memo­r­ial statue while cry­ing. I had assumed it was some­one from the fam­i­lies of the 1999 fire and her emo­tions had been stirred by the new death. I watched her for a few min­utes not bring­ing my cam­era over, as I knew I could not tape the scene with­out putting the light on and upset­ting her. I did go up and ask if I could help her and was told no thank you. Turns out she was the fiancée of the victim.

The wake itself was rou­tine as the media set up across the street from the funeral home, shoot­ing what­ever was going on as folks walked into to give their con­do­lences or maybe to say a prayer.  Then the mood changed, at least for me. Deputy Chief Frank Diliddo came over right before our five o’clock live shot to tell us about an eleven-year-old boy, Jared Flan­ders who rode his bike to the wake to pay his respects. He was seen sit­ting in the third row and peo­ple were won­der­ing who he was. He had come on his own, learned to put his tie on by read­ing instruc­tions from a book, and said he wanted to be there because he really liked firefighters.

Jared Flan­ders with the bag­pipe band on their way to the cemetery.

We inter­viewed the boy and strangely enough when reporters asked him if he wanted to be a fire­fighter he said it was third on his list, pick­ing a lawyer first. He came to be the Worces­ter Fire Department’s good­will per­son and the depart­ment treated him as well as would be expected. The police drove him home that night and next day he was a guest of the fire depart­ment, arriv­ing in the scuba team truck to attend the ser­vices. The boy then got to march with the bag­pipes band in the front row as the fire­fight­ers left the Church.  There was salut­ing as the boy marched the route with them. It was a very uplift­ing moment in an oth­er­wise very sad story.

My assign­ment was to cover the pro­ces­sion for Jack’s Harper’s pieces later in the show, as he was live dur­ing the church ser­vice.  As usual, he did a great job dur­ing the live show, as I went up and down the streets try­ing to get video for him and stills for our web­site. I did very well; tak­ing some good stills and get­ting some of the video, which was needed. Jack had a smor­gas­bord of video as our cov­er­age was every­where and he did a great job sum­ma­riz­ing the ser­vice in his later pieces that day.

Jack alerted me the fire­fighter car­ry­ing the hel­met was Fire­fighter Brian Car­roll. I spent the next 20 min­utes fol­low­ing the engine com­pany with the cas­ket on it look­ing for a clear shot of Car­roll.  I spot­ted the young boy march­ing, and then the appa­ra­tus and then Fire­fighter Car­roll came into view hold­ing the helmet.

Fire­fighter Brian Car­roll with his partner’s hel­met in hand fol­lows the appa­ra­tus with Fire­fighter Jon Davies’ cas­ket on their way to the memo­r­ial service.

At the end of fire­fighter ser­vices, a fire depart­ment mem­ber rings a very shiny bell. They ring 1–1, 1–1, then again 1–1, 1–1, the “all-out” sig­nal to an alarm of fire. Sadly, on this day the “all-out” call was not to sig­nify the end of a fire, but instead was a somber reminder that for Fire­fighter Jon Davies, the final “all-out” has been sounded.

Addi­tional Infor­ma­tion on the Worces­ter Six from Decem­ber 6, 1999 from Robert Win­ston, Boston Fire Dis­trict Chief, retired. A friend of mine from his BFD days. 

Cama­raderie Under Fire: A Remem­brance of the Worces­ter Tragedy

 

Worces­ter Fire­fighter Memo­r­ial day of fatal fire which killed FF Jon Davies.

It was Decem­ber 3, 1999 when an aban­doned cav­ernous ware­house was set afire by two home­less peo­ple who “lived” in the hulk­ing struc­ture. This was the Worces­ter Cold and Stor­age Ware­house that was located in the City of Worces­ter, Mass­a­chu­setts. The scene of this fire was to become one of fiery col­lapse, death, heartache, hero­ism, and cama­raderie under the most extreme fire­fight­ing conditions.

The home­less man made sex­ual advances to his girl friend and she had rebuffed his sug­ges­tions. He became angry and the two were argu­ing and throw­ing things. They were using can­dles for light and one of the lighted can­dles was knocked into a pile of debris that quickly ignited. The fire spread as the two squat­ters fled into the cold night air leav­ing the fire to grow into what would become one of the worst Line Of Duty (fire ser­vice) Deaths (LODD) in the his­tory of the Worces­ter Fire Department.

Fire­fight­ers in many fire engines responded to the grow­ing fire. More aid was called to the scene as it became obvi­ous to the chief in charge that this was no rou­tine fire-fight. Heavy smoke turned to vis­i­ble flames as the fire ate through the nearly win­dow­less ark of a struc­ture. Inside were many fire­fight­ers strain­ing to extin­guish the flames. The inte­rior was a maze of dark­ened rooms and cor­ri­dors. Six floors of them! Debris was scat­tered every­where adding to the dif­fi­cul­ties of search­ing blindly to find the seat of the fire and being able to exit the build­ing in a hurry if needed.

A num­ber of Fire­fight­ers became dis­ori­ented in the smoke, heat and dark­ness. They radioed for help. Brother fire­fight­ers entered the burn­ing build­ing to try and res­cue their now trapped com­rades. Time after time these rugged fire­fight­ing vet­er­ans made dan­ger­ous and heroic attempts to find their col­leagues. It was no use.

The fire had been eat­ing away at the strength of the brick and wood edi­fice. It started to col­lapse. The fire chief in com­mand ordered all fire­fight­ers to stop res­cue attempts and to vacate the fire build­ing. Six Worces­ter Fire­fight­ers would per­ish this night despite the Her­culean efforts of a small army of fire­fight­ers. Recov­ery of their bod­ies would last for an ardu­ous somber eight days and nights.

The call went out across the New Eng­land region for assis­tance to respond to Worces­ter. Many emer­gency and non-emergency per­son­nel turned out to help. They came by the hun­dreds to stand with and work with their brother and sis­ter fire­fight­ers until the dif­fi­cult and hon­or­able task of recov­ery was completed.

The City of Boston Fire Depart­ment imme­di­ately sent per­son­nel and equip­ment to the tragic scene. I was one of the many that were sent. My role was one of the safety oper­a­tional sec­tor chiefs. Those of us that were assigned that task would check for safety issues, look for haz­ards and pre­vent any fur­ther injuries or deaths. Prior to our arrival at the ware­house fire tragedy, we were given a brief­ing that included spe­cific instruc­tions and alerted us that the Worces­ter Fire­fight­ers were under severe emo­tional stress. We were told that tem­pers may be short and to use tact and to be sen­si­tive to the raw emo­tions being expe­ri­enced by the Worces­ter Firefighters.

It was the sec­ond night of the eight nights of recov­ery oper­a­tions. The ware­house roof, floors and two exte­rior walls had fallen and were now huge piles of smol­der­ing debris. The dan­ger of addi­tional struc­tural col­lapse and of fire­fight­ers falling through burned out floors haunted us. The safety offi­cers were kept busy and were vig­i­lant. Injury or worse was at every step.

As I was sur­vey­ing a sec­tion of the build­ing I noticed that a Worces­ter Fire Lieu­tenant was stand­ing in a very dan­ger­ous loca­tion. Debris was loosely dan­gling above him. I approached the man to warn him of the sit­u­a­tion. He was a tall lean guy. Much taller than I. His face was black with soot and his eyes were red and swollen.  He looked very tired and tense. I tried to warn him, as del­i­cately as I could, that he was in a dan­ger­ous spot. What we were cau­tioned about prior to our arrival at this fire was about to hap­pen. The Lieu­tenant became angry with me and got in my face. He didn’t care what rank I was or that I was look­ing out for his safety. Angry emo­tion packed words were hurled at me. I tried to rea­son with him to no avail. A Worces­ter Chief Offi­cer was stand­ing nearby and saw and heard what was hap­pen­ing. He imme­di­ately posi­tioned him­self between the lieu­tenant and myself and defused what could have become an ugly sit­u­a­tion. I explained the rea­son why I had tried to talk to his lieu­tenant and then I pointed upwards to the hang­ing debris. The chief under­stood, apol­o­gized to me and assured me that he’d talk to his lieu­tenant. We both knew and under­stood how tem­pers can flare under the unprece­dented stress­ful cir­cum­stances that we were all caught up in.

Eight days had passed since the fire began. I had returned to the scene and was again assigned as a safety oper­a­tional sec­tor chief. The pile of smol­der­ing debris that was once this old ware­house had been reduced in size and fully extin­guished. Five of Worcester’s Bravest had been recov­ered. One was still buried some­where in the remain­ing mounds of twisted steel, burned wood and bricks. As I sur­veyed the scene I noticed the lieu­tenant that I had the ear­lier encounter with. He was search­ing some rub­ble. I inquired about him and was told that he had been at the scene from the fire’s start and had refused to go home for eight days and nights.

The cold day turned into a very cold and windy Decem­ber night as recov­ery oper­a­tions con­tin­ued for the last fire­fighter. Fire­fighter Paul Brotherton’s body was located under one of the many mounds of bricks and charred wood. His pre­cise and somber removal from the debris will be a pic­ture in my mind’s eye that I will never forget.

It was so cold and dark and quiet as Fire­fighter Brotherton’s body was taken away in an ambu­lance. The sad task of recov­ery was finally over that night. The heal­ing could begin.

There was a large crowd of peo­ple stand­ing qui­etly beyond the yel­low safety tape that sur­rounded the ruins. Hun­dreds of fire­fight­ers formed two par­al­lel lines lead­ing from the destroyed build­ing out to the crowd of onlook­ers. The Worces­ter Fire­fight­ers climbed down from the piles of debris and slowly walked between the two rows of fire­fight­ers who had come from other fire depart­ments. As the Worces­ter Fire­fight­ers passed by us we saluted them, applauded them, shook their hands and some gave hugs. One by one they filed through the rows. A walk of honor and consolation.

I barely rec­og­nized the lieu­tenant whom I encoun­tered days before. It was his height that caused me to look harder at him than at his broth­ers. His face was now gaunt, black­ened and the eyes were red and sunken. We looked at each other. He rec­og­nized me and stopped walk­ing. It was more like a slow shuf­fle. I shook his hand first. Then the lieu­tenant lit­er­ally col­lapsed into my arms. We embraced each other as only fire­fight­ers can do at a time like this and he began to sob. Even through our heavy wet pro­tec­tive firefighter’s gear he felt frail and unsteady. Tears stained our faces as we looked at each other. Unbe­liev­ably this exhausted weary fire lieu­tenant apol­o­gized to me. I was sort of…stunned. I told him that it was okay, gave him my con­do­lences for his losses and hugged the man again. I watched him as he walked away shoul­der to shoul­der with his comrades.

I never saw the man again. I have thought of him from time to time when the mem­ory of the Worces­ter Tragedy comes back to me or when I see the word “camaraderie.”

Robert M. Winston

Boston Dis­trict Fire Chief-Retired

 

 

11Sep/111

Welcome Home My Son

Tom Lovet­ere returns home from Viet­nam, March, 1968 as his mother Josephine greets him on the tar­mac at Logan Airport.

43 plus years later I received two emails about a photo I took in 1968. Prob­a­bly my favorite wel­come home photo. It was before huge gates rolled to the planes or the plane came to the ter­mi­nal to unload its pas­sen­gers.  It was when you could stand on the tar­mac and it could be bit­ter cold but the warmth of watch­ing what was hap­pen­ing in front of you warmed you up bet­ter than a hot tub.

1968 Tom Lovet­ere is greeted by is fam­ily at Logan Air­port upon return­ing from Vietnam.

Hi Stan­ley, No you don’t know me but I am the wife of the sol­dier you pho­tographed back in 1968 at Logan Air­port. “Wel­come Home My Son” was the cap­tion that made the front page of the Record Amer­i­can. Just want to say Thank You for the mem­o­ries!! Although the news­pa­per is quite old we still show it to our grand­kids all the time. You we’re one hell of a guy then and I’m sure you still are. Thank You and God bless you. Donna Lovet­ere

Josephine Lovet­ere as she hugs her son Tom on his return to Boston in 1968 from Vietnam.

Hi Stan­ley, my name is Tom Lovet­ere and I just wanted to let you know that I am one of the sto­ries you wrote about and pho­tographed that had a happy end­ing. I am the sol­dier that you were allowed out on the tar­mac at Logan on March 6th 1968.That was one of the hap­pi­est times of my life to see my mother and my seven broth­ers wait­ing for me. I couldn’t wait to wrap my arms around her so she would finally know that her youngest son, her baby was all right and finally home. My mom cher­ished that photo and the mem­ory you gave her for the rest of her life. She received many phone calls and let­ters for years after from vet­er­ans and fam­i­lies of vet­er­ans from all wars about that photo and the look on her face. I still have some of the old news­pa­pers but they are falling apart from the years gone by. My mom passed away 26 years ago but I will always remem­ber the joy you brought her from your photos.

Mem­bers of the Lovet­ere fam­ily make their way to the ter­mi­nal to greet the rest of the fam­ily and friends.

The East Boston fam­ily had called the Record Amer­i­can city desk to tell us the fam­ily would be there to wel­come Tom’s arrival from Viet­nam and back dur­ing that con­flict not all of the home com­ings were of a happy nature. For 45 years I have cov­ered some very joy­ous home­com­ings and then there are the oth­ers. From watch­ing tears of joy to just watch­ing tears of pain. This is one of my bet­ter ones and these emails make the mem­o­ries of that day even better.

 

24Jul/113

Tankers: Great Balls of Fire!

Gaso­line tanker burn­ing, Saugus MA, Essex Street Exit.

Gaso­line tankers, ter­ri­ble dan­ger, deaf­en­ing explo­sions and many times tragic deaths.  As I review the many I have cov­ered, seven at today’s count. I know of two which resulted in a death or severe injury. The worst one being my first big story in 1966, a month after I began at the Record Amer­i­can (ref­er­enced in a another blog on this site “my first major tradgedy, 8 DOA”) and now this one on July 23, 2011.  

My first call for the inci­dent came from my friend Alan who is a free­lance pho­tog­ra­pher for the Lynn Item. He is up all night lis­ten­ing to the scan­ners. While mine are run­ning the prob­lem is with our room air con­di­tioner on and my hard of hear­ing ears I was hav­ing a prob­lem hear­ing the radios which are run­ning next to my side of the bed the extra help is needed. Thank­fully I get it.

Alan said a trac­tor trailer flipped over in either Saugus or Revere as both police depart­ments were yakking about it. He said they were say­ing Essex Street. I imme­di­ately knew in my dazed state of wakeup it was Essex Street in Saugus. I thought he meant a large trac­tor trailer and the sad­dle tanks had caught fire not real­iz­ing for a minute or two it was a gaso­line tanker.

I got up slid down the pole (only kid­ding) got dressed quickly (my clothes and equip­ment are always ready) but at my age I have to make a pit stop before I get going and then I have this thing about brush­ing my teeth so that took another minute. Unless my des­ti­na­tion is within a cou­ple of min­utes of my house and the extra minute or two is going to be too costly I stop for these chores.

I made great time get­ting there, no real traf­fic and know­ing the area of Route One and lis­ten­ing to the radios I thought I could sneak around the road blocks through the Square One Mall park­ing lot and it worked. I also knew the police would not have all their resources in place to block off every­thing so soon. A few min­utes later I might have had prob­lems get­ting as close as I did.

Great Balls of Fire

So there it was, a tanker on its side, flames shoot­ing 60 plus feet in the air and explo­sive thun­der from the igni­tions of the fuel tak­ing place, great TV which was the only thing I was think­ing about not know­ing at this time a life has been lost and another per­son severely burned. That knowl­edge would put a damper on the excite­ment I was enjoy­ing as I had kicked butt with my images.

I was stand­ing in the south­bound lane of Route One and the truck was less than 30–40 yards in front of me.  I wished once again I had brought my tri­pod but car­ry­ing my still cam­era, a 22 pound plus video cam­era, two phones, extra bat­ter­ies was enough. It was swel­ter­ing out there from the sum­mer tem­per­a­tures, with the humid­ity very high and add to that the heat from the fire; the tri­pod stays in the car. There was also the thought of addi­tional explo­sions and hav­ing to run for cover. Less is bet­ter some­times. Yes I am sec­ond guess­ing myself because the tri­pod would have meant stead­ier video but when the com­pe­ti­tion is far behind it doesn’t really mat­ter. I envy those who can carry everything.

Tanker on its side still burning.

After spend­ing a long time on the south­bound side I ven­tured over to another angle closer to the tanker.  I was con­cerned if I left where I was I might lose the great spot I had but I needed other angles. The funny part of this is I kept hear­ing explo­sions but the shots I was mak­ing of the burn­ing fuel did not show any big blasts. I real­ized these explo­sions were tak­ing place about 1500 to 2000 feet behind the fire well into the res­i­den­tial areas of Saugus where a house and other struc­tures caught fire after the fuel floated down an adja­cent stream.

After get­ting these shots I walked back to my orig­i­nal loca­tion saw a rank­ing trooper and asked if I could go north in the south and then go south in the north lanes as I needed to be on the other side. I was told “Stan­ley you have been around long enough, be care­ful and if you get stopped tell them I said it was okay.” I got to the other side and began trudg­ing up and down the ramp com­plex to get what I needed. Dur­ing all of this I was putting the video cam­era down and cap­tur­ing great still images with my dig­i­tal cam­era. I guess I don’t know how to use my IPhone cam­era as I could not get a really good shot of the fire with it or maybe the shut­ter of the IPhone is too slow to stop the action?

I did what I had to do, left the scene, drove to Revere where I could feed my video(I have a microwave trans­mit­ter in my com­pany vehi­cle but I need line of site for a cou­ple of receive sites in Boston and or Need­ham)  for the Eye Opener show.  In the mean­time the office had sent a reporter, John Atwa­ter, a satel­lite truck and two more pho­tog­ra­phers; it was like we struck a third alarm while the fire depart­ment struck 8 alarms. We kicked butt, live on the high­way through­out our show and we had the video to back up the talk. We were walk­ing the walk and talk­ing the talk.

Under con­trol as Massport’s Engine Five plays foam on the burn­ing gaso­line bring­ing it under control.

I reflected the rest of the day about the other tanker fires I have cov­ered in my 45 years as a news pho­tog­ra­pher. The first one I cov­ered was about 40 plus years ear­lier and less than a mile from where we were. It was also north­bound on Route One and I remem­ber the fire fight­ers chas­ing rolling streams of burn­ing gaso­line down the high­way but I don’t remem­ber any struc­tures burn­ing or injuries.

Another one was on route 93 north­bound in the Read­ing area in 1978. I was wear­ing a walk­ing cast after surgery for an Achilles ten­don rup­ture.  I had a plas­tic mate­r­ial boot on it to pro­tect it from water and there I was on the high­way dodg­ing burn­ing gaso­line and water so my plas­ter cast would not melt.

In Methuen one week­end morn­ing a tanker blew up at a neigh­bor­hood gas sta­tion but his time the gaso­line was con­tained in a blown-up piece of the tanker burn­ing as if it was in a bar­beque pit. After the ini­tial explo­sion it just burned straight up for a cou­ple of hours. For the most part the fire depart­ment pro­tected the expo­sures and let it burn itself out.

A cou­ple of years ago I got a call on a Sat­ur­day morn­ing from Matt Wilder the morn­ing pro­ducer who heard the explo­sion out­side of the Chan­nel Five Stu­dios in Need­ham, on Route 128/95. He looked out the win­dow, saw the large loom up and called me. How frus­trat­ing it was as I knew no mat­ter how fast I could get there it would not be fast enough as 40 miles can only be cov­ered in no less than 30 plus min­utes. As I was cir­cling 128, watch­ing the large fun­nel cloud of smoke and I knew when I got there it would be dis­si­pated. When I did finally get there I was directed off the exit ramp. I walked down a par­al­lel street, fol­lowed the hose lines and even­tu­ally talked my way onto the high­way. It ended up being okay as I was the only one who was able to talk to the lucky unin­jured dri­ver about what happened.

I think the biggest story of a tanker rollover and explo­sion was the one in Everett a cou­ple of win­ters ago. I was lying in bed wide awake around 3AM and heard a trooper call in say­ing a tanker had just exploded at the route 99 overpass/rotary in Everett. This loca­tion over­looked an elderly res­i­den­tial apart­ment build­ing and houses.

I had to pass the scene I was at Sat­ur­day to get to this inferno.  Down Route One straight up Route 99 won­der­ing where the road­blocks would be hop­ing it was close enough to the scene to be able to do my job. I was able to work my way around sev­eral obsta­cles, ran through the snow cov­ered streets. My video showed what a great job the cops and fire­fight­ers were doing to help res­i­dents evac­u­ate their homes. There was one funny hap­pen­ing as Everett Police were help­ing the elderly from their res­i­dence, push­ing wheel­chairs and try­ing to keep every­one calm one woman said to me “this reminds me of the war years in Lon­don when I used to be taken to a shel­ter when the bomb­ings started.”  I asked her “when was the last time she had been up this late” and she smiled at me.

Below are links to great sto­ries and pho­tos done for my sta­tion WCVB-TV,

www.thebostonchannel.com.

http://www.thebostonchannel.com/video/28643466/detail.html

http://www.thebostonchannel.com/video/28648897/detail.html

http://www.thebostonchannel.com/slideshow/news/28642763/detail.html?qs=;s=1;p=/news/;dm=ss;w=400

 

19Jul/112

I don’t go to Church but I know my Churches

Church of the Holy Cross Cathe­dral, Wash­ing­ton Street, Boston’s South End

After work­ing news for the last 45 years and cov­er­ing all too many funer­als at the beau­ti­ful Cathe­dral of The Holy Cross Church in Boston’s South End, I really got to see the full splen­dor of it recently attend­ing my nephew’s wedding.

I knew it was going to be fun when Aunt Kit said to me on the way into the cer­e­mony she will fol­low my lead as to when to stand-up and when to kneel. I looked at her and said I doubt that, you bet­ter watch what every­one else does like me as I am also not a Catholic.

The night even got bet­ter when we found metered park­ing spaces out­side one of the most beau­ti­ful wed­ding recep­tions I had ever been to at the Cop­ley Fair­mount, even if I had to wait till 6:pm for the meters to no longer be active.

Father William Rus­sell (no, not the bas­ket­ball player) deliv­ered the homily for the wed­ding cer­e­mony which brought smiles and laugh­ter to all of us. After we left the church I went up to him and told him what a great (I had to ask him what they called that part of the cer­e­mony and he even spelled it out for me) hom­i­lies he deliv­ered. When I told him I would be blog­ging about this event and asked for his email address so I could for­ward it to him his response was “I don’t even know how to turn a com­puter on,” lucky him.

His hom­i­lies had some great quotes regard­ing how the 29 year old bride had been able to stay sin­gle so long and said; “If I had been a younger man and in a dif­fer­ent line of work Laura would have been spo­ken for already but I think Christo­pher (the groom) was well worth the wait.”

Then he said mar­riage is about com­pro­mise not always 50/50, some­times 90/10 as he told sto­ries about his par­ents. His father loved to watch Sun­day foot­ball on TV. His mother, know­ing this, put a Cross on top of the TV to remind him to lift his eyes to God at least on the com­mer­cials and he left it there to appease her.

He then told us how after din­ner every night he and his five sib­ling broth­ers were sent out of the room and the doors would shut while his mother and father would dis­cuss their day. The boys would stand at the crack of the door try­ing to lis­ten to their con­ver­sa­tion. One that he always remem­bers was when his mother said to his father “why don’t you say you love me?” His father answered “I do.” She asked “do what” and he answered “what you just asked me.” This went back and forth sev­eral times till he said the words “I love you,” which made his mother very happy.  Every­thing Father Rus­sell said was warm, fuzzy and brought a warm feel­ing to the bride and groom along with the guests.

I have lis­tened to and cov­ered Car­di­nals giv­ing memo­r­ial masses, beau­ti­ful Christ­mas cer­e­monies and even Cardinal’s wakes. But the hom­i­lies I heard from Father Bill Rus­sell made the church seem all the more beautiful.

Richard Car­di­nal Cush­ing say­ing the memo­r­ial Mass after Bobby Kennedy’s assas­si­na­tion at the Cathe­dral in 1968.

On our way to the church which I had not been in for many years, I repeat­edly told my girls how I had seen Richard Car­di­nal Cushing’s hat raised to the rafters for his funeral cel­e­bra­tion in 1970. The Cardinal’s dying was huge in Boston as he was loved by all. Well maybe not all as some of the vet­eran reporters who had to cover him were not too pleased some­times as when deal­ing with the Car­di­nal it was his way or the highway.

Sit­ting there look­ing at the three car­di­nals hats (I don’t know who the other two hats belong to which hang from the ceil­ing over the altar) made me think back to the many times I cov­ered Car­di­nal Cush­ing. I always believed he knew I was not a Catholic as I never knelt to kiss the ring on his hand but we did shake hands.

I was at the press con­fer­ence in the late 60s at his res­i­dence on Com­mon­wealth Avenue near Boston Col­lege, (who now owns the prop­erty) when he announced he had can­cer. We all thought there was some kind of ill­ness he was suf­fer­ing from but until he told us it was a mys­tery. I was with reporter Ollie Bren­nan who had him­self a Page One story that day. Ollie went on from us to join the Globe as their TV critic.

Think­ing about Car­di­nal Cush­ing brings back a cou­ple of funny mem­o­ries. Jack Whar­ton, a vet­eran reporter (and one the most won­der­ful reporters I ever worked with), was told to call “The Cush” and see how he was. He had missed a cou­ple of masses and there was con­cern about his health. The Car­di­nal answered the phone and when Jack asked him how he was as many of the paper’s read­ers had inquired the Car­di­nal very gruffly said “if my parish­ioners want to know how I feel tell them to call me them­selves!” Next day the Record Amer­i­can printed his phone num­ber with his message.

When Cush­ing died I spent a lot of time at the Cathe­dral and watched the nuns sewing the mate­r­ial on to his hat so it could be raised to the rafters. I watched it being put in place (haven’t located the neg­a­tives yet). The wake lasted a cou­ple of days and pho­tog­ra­pher Gene Dixon had the day shift of sit­ting in a pew wait­ing for photo opportunities.

He came back with two great sto­ries. The Car­di­nal had a huge ring or two on his fin­gers and some of the peo­ple kept touch­ing and pulling them. Gene thought some of these peo­ple wanted to steal the ring off his fin­gers. Offi­cials ended up sewing his arm sleeve to his jacket so his hand could not be raised. The other story was Gene had his two-way radio on and it started to squawk loudly, so loudly Gene said “I thought he was going to jump out if the box!” Who knows how true these sto­ries are but they cer­tainly bring a smile to my face.

At his bur­ial in Hanover, Mass­a­chu­setts at St. Collette’s School col­league Mike Ander­sen squeezed him­self right next to the gravesite and had a very mov­ing photo of the cas­ket being low­ered into the ground.

The Car­di­nals replace­ment was Arch­bishop Hum­berto Medeiros, who arrived from Brownsville Texas to Logan Air­port. He was escorted through the throngs of media by Boston police and lead cop was the same cop who led the Boston Bru­ins onto the ice at Boston Gar­den for every game back in that era. He was a big friendly guy but this day he had in his hands a large rec­tan­gu­lar object like a 16/20 print to keep us back. It worked as we only got just so close but with a great view for our photos.

Medeiros became Car­di­nal Medeiros dur­ing his time in Boston and on a Sat­ur­day in Sep­tem­ber of 1983 I cov­ered his death. On that Sat­ur­day, Jack Harper and I went to Saint Columbkille’s Church which was near Saint Elizabeth’s hos­pi­tal to cover the goings on.

We all cov­ered his funeral and I was sent to Fall River his home­town for the bur­ial. He was loved in Fall River and through it all his fam­ily was as gra­cious as he was.

Then came Arch­bishop Bernard Fran­cis Law who knew how to play to the media. He arrived shortly after St. Ambrose Church burned down on Adams Street in Dorch­ester, Jan­u­ary 1983. He went to the Church with a lot of fan­fare to help the peo­ple grieve over their loss promis­ing to help with the rebuild­ing of the struc­ture. He played soft­ball with other arch­dio­cese priests against Boston Police. It was called “The Law vs. The Police.”  It became an annual event at Town Field in Dorch­ester. The police usu­ally won.

In 1985 he became a Car­di­nal. When the Church sex scan­dal broke in Boston around 2002 he was at the cen­ter of it under great crit­i­cism of how he han­dled it or maybe how he did not han­dle it. I took video of him as he arrived at the court house for his depo­si­tion. He was none to happy to see us, and protested our pres­ence. He came up through garage ele­va­tors to avoid the media. Advan­tage us!

That was the last time I saw him in per­son and then his res­ig­na­tion from the Boston Arch­dio­cese in ‘02. I was told dur­ing his St. Ambrose Church visit years ear­lier he told my good friend and great pho­tog­ra­pher Stan Gross­feld of the Boston Globe he was going to win a Pulitzer and he was cor­rect as Stan has won two. I did not mind he said that as I already had won a couple.

The Rest of The Story:

My friend and for­mer col­league Mike Ander­sen updates me on his role with Card­ni­nal Cushing.

To clar­ify my role in Car­di­nal Cushing’s funeral: The Car­di­nal had arranged for a mau­soleum to be built on the grounds of St. Coletta’s in Hanover long before his death.  The day before the funeral, Chief Pho­tog­ra­pher Myer Ostroff sent me to Hanover just to see what I could see.  I found some work­men putting the fin­ish­ing touches on the sar­coph­a­gus in which his cas­ket would be entombed.  I made a pic­ture of them and we used it.  The next day the entire staff was assigned to the funeral.  Angela’s only job was to shoot Jackie Kennedy.  Mine was to get inside the mau­soleum and get a pic­ture of the VIPs who would be per­mit­ted inside for a pri­vate farewell.  There were two doors, one in front and one on the side near the back..  The back door was locked and there was a nun guard­ing the front.  I think she had played line­backer at Notre Dame.  Every time I made a move for the door, there she was.  I brought along prints of the sar­coph­a­gus masons and given them each a print.  One of them saw my plight and said he’d get me in.  So he unlocked the back door and I went in.  The only other per­son inside at that time was the Pilot pho­tog­ra­pher Phil Stack.  He kept wav­ing for me to get out.  I just waved back and tucked myself into a cor­ner in front where I hoped I wouldn’t be seen from the door.  For­tu­nately the out­side ser­vice ended about then and the VIPs, other Car­di­nals, the Kennedy fam­ily and prob­a­bly oth­ers I didn’t know came troop­ing in.  They filled this small build­ing.  I had a 20mm lens on a tri­pod and a long cable release so I could hold the cam­era way over my head and cover the entire room.  Some­body at the office was able to iden­tify most of the peo­ple and they ran two of my pic­tures full-page in the Record.  I was the only sec­u­lar pho­tog­ra­pher there, so we beat the Globe and Herald-Traveler six ways from Sun­day, excuse the pun.

I had had an ear­lier inci­dent with Car­di­nal Cush­ing.  I came to Boston in 1969, the year of the Apollo 11 moon land­ing.  Michael Collins, the third astro­naut no-one remem­bers, was from Boston, so Car­di­nal Cush­ing was going to con­duct a pri­vate Mass bless­ing Collins at Holy Cross Cathe­dral.  I was assigned to cover it.  I’m also not Catholic and had never even been in a Catholic Church before.  I had also never seen a pho­tog­ra­pher in my Pres­by­ter­ian Church.  I don’t know if the Pres­by­te­ri­ans are too dig­ni­fied to per­mit pho­tog­ra­phy or just so bor­ing (we’re known, with good rea­son, as the “Frozen Cho­sen”) that no-one wants to take our pic­ture.  But other pho­tog­ra­phers were there, all tak­ing pic­tures, so I started tak­ing pic­tures too.  I was so wrapped up in what I was doing that I didn’t notice when the oth­ers set their cam­eras down.  I was look­ing through the viewfinder with a tele­photo lens and a tight shot of the Car­di­nal when he glared at me and said, “Stop tak­ing pic­tures now!  This is the HOLY part.”

I was at Fen­way Park when the Eagle landed.  The PA announcer came on the air between innings to announce that Amer­i­cans were now safely on the sur­face of the moon.  There was a moment of stunned silence. then loud applause, then some­one began to sing.  The next thing you knew 30,000 peo­ple were singing, spon­ta­neously and a cap­pella, “God Bless Amer­ica”.  It was the most mov­ing moment I’ve ever witnessed.

More of The Rest Of The Story:

I received a com­ment which fills in a lot of infor­ma­tion on some of my infor­ma­tion or lack of it from Attor­ney James C. Reilly. Mr. Reilly grew up in New­ton, went to the Uni­ver­sity of Rochester and Duke Law. Mr. Reilly prac­tices law in Birm­ing­ham, Alabama. 

The three galleros hung from the rafters are for Car­di­nals O’Connell, Cush­ing and Medieros.  William Henry Car­di­nal O’Connell’s and Richard James Car­di­nal Cushing’s galleros were pre­sented to them by the Pope, Pius X and John XXIII respec­tively, as the “red hat” of a car­di­nal.  The gallero was dis­con­tin­ued by Pope Paul VI and the “red hat” now given is the red biretta. Accord­ingly, Hum­berto Sousa Car­di­nal Medieros never received a gallero from the Pope.  How­ever, Car­di­nal O’Malley had a gallero made for Car­di­nal Medieros so that the tra­di­tion of hang­ing it in the cathe­dral could con­tinue.  The red gallero with 30 tas­sels is the heraldic device of a car­di­nal.  A green gallero with 20 tas­sels is the sym­bol of an Arch­bishop and a green gallero with 12 tas­sels is the sym­bol for a bishop.  Other col­ors and tas­sel num­bers are also used as the heraldic device for priests (Black and 2), Mon­signors (vari­a­tions of black/amaranth, ama­ranth usu­ally 6) etc.

BTW the pic­ture of Car­di­nal Cush­ing does NOT show him “cel­e­brat­ing” Mass — most likely he is pre­sid­ing, i.e., in atten­dance in his offi­cial capac­ity, as he is in choir dress and not wear­ing the cha­suble of the priest say­ing Mass.

Page 1 of 212