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

25Jun/117

Whitey Bulger “America’s Most Wanted” and Me

David Boeri, for­mer WCVB reporter,currently with WBUR Radio wear­ing his Whitey Tee shirt after he was cap­tured. David is a great his­to­rian of Whitey and his exploits.

Whitey Bul­ger was cap­tured and I got the call at 2: am to head into the City (Boston) for cov­er­age of the big story. It brought back mem­o­ries of a con­fronta­tion I had with Whitey almost 40 years ago, way before I knew who or what he was.

The Plaza at the Pem­ber­ton Square Court House on Bea­con Hill was a gated area (still is, but now with a guard shack) and in order to park vehi­cles on the Plaza to cover a court issue you had to knock on the door lead­ing to the bow­els of the build­ing and get who­ever was on duty to unlock the gate. It was the same entrance where the pris­on­ers com­ing for a court appear­ance were brought and then put in hold­ing cells.

One day about 40 years ago I had to go in and out of the Plaza sev­eral times. Each time I knocked on the door look­ing for the “key per­son.” The man with the key got pissed off at me as he thought I was both­er­ing him. I was young, strong (I thought), and if noth­ing else I could take any­one on ver­bally. We spared back and forth yelling and swear­ing at each other, he opened and closed the gate and I moved on.

Later that day I called Dis­trict Attor­ney New­man Flanagan’s pub­lic rela­tions direc­tor Dave Rod­man. I told him the story and  he knew imme­di­ately who I was talk­ing about and told me it was Sen­a­tor William Bulger’s brother Whitey and to let it go.

I did not real­ize what dan­ger I had been in till 20 years later when I started to know more about Whitey, read he had worked at the Court House and real­ized who I had had the con­fronta­tion with on that par­tic­u­lar day. It was a scary thought after read­ing he had dis­patched peo­ple for var­i­ous rea­sons and I prob­a­bly gave him good rea­son that day.

A cou­ple of years ago I was at a book sign­ing event for “The Soil­ing Of Old Glory” and Billy Bul­ger was the mod­er­a­tor as we talked about forced bus­ing in Boston in the 70s. I told him about the inci­dent. We both laughed as he said “I guess you are lucky to be alive!”

Through the years Whitey’s rep­u­ta­tion as the “Sav­ior of South Boston” cer­tainly dimin­ished and fear set in. There used to be news­pa­per arti­cles say­ing Whitey played it safe against the bad ele­ments of South Boston; only run­ning some gam­bling oper­a­tions and keep­ing drugs out of the area. Works out he was the drug run­ner and involved in pretty much every­thing ille­gal in the area, plus mur­der­ing peo­ple at will. He has been charged with 19 known mur­ders and believed to be involved with many more.

Paul Corsetti, a for­mer reporter I worked with, also had an inci­dent with Whitey. Paul was chas­ing a story on a South Boston bookie and not think­ing much about it when he got a call at the office. It said it was Whitey him­self telling Paul “I know where you’re fam­ily lives and the school bus your daugh­ter gets on every day.”  Paul told Whitey it was not him he was look­ing into and gave him the bookie’s name he was watch­ing.  Whitey light­ened up and gave Paul all the infor­ma­tion he needed to do the story and the two moved on.

Another time in South Boston at Pre­ble Cir­cle there was a call for a shoot­ing. I raced there and the area was hec­tic with EMTs work­ing a vic­tim and cops run­ning around look­ing for sus­pects. Dick Fal­lon, another news pho­tog­ra­pher, kept telling me they were look­ing for Steven “The Rifle­man” Flemmi, who it turns out, was Whitey Bulger’s part­ner both being FBI infor­mants. Steve’s brother Michael was a Boston Cop who later got him­self in trou­ble and ended up in jail like his brother.

In the late 1967 I was cruis­ing with Record Amer­i­can pho­tog­ra­pher Gene Dixon my col­league for 16 plus years when he heard the call for a per­son in the snow. It was on Har­vard Street in Dorch­ester and when we got there William Ben­nett one of three broth­ers was curled up, bloody snow around him as he had been assas­si­nated.  The other two broth­ers Wal­ter and Edward also died that year and the only body that was found at that time was William’s. As I read up on the his­tory of Whitey it seems his mur­der was all part of the gang wars of those past days.

I grew up in Revere, Mass­a­chu­setts where it was said there was a bookie or gang­ster on every cor­ner. Not true– just on a lot of cor­ners but not all of them. My first “Mafia” hit took place dur­ing a gang war between local gangs. There was an infor­mant by the name of Joseph Baron Barboza.

Bar­boza used to hang around a club at the old Pleasan­ton Hotel on Revere Beach (three alarm fire destroyed it, yes I was there). One of the enter­tain­ers at the club was Myles Con­nor, infa­mous for shoot­ing for­mer Major Jack O’Donovan of MSP in 1966, (when he was a lieu­tenant detec­tive) in a shootout in Boston’s Back Bay. Con­nor who used to jump out of a cas­ket in his act went on to prison after the shoot­ing and is some­how con­nected to the Isabella Stew­art Museum Rob­bery of 1990. There is also a story that Whitey Bul­ger and an asso­ciate might also be some­how involved with the Museum Heist.

One night at the Pleasan­ton a guest got assaulted by Bar­boza. Rather than tes­tify against him he did a year in jail for con­tempt of court. Scary peo­ple there and a mile fur­ther down the boule­vard was the Ebb Tide a club where the Patri­arca asso­ciates hung out. They were not there to lis­ten to enter­tainer Tommy Hunt sing I’m sure but I was a few times, lis­ten­ing to the music and look­ing to see what wise guys came into view. It is like a tread mill with all of the same peo­ple on it and con­tin­u­ing to keep the plat­form going.

Joe was some­how involved in help­ing the police get to rival gang mem­bers who may or may not have been the peo­ple who fre­quented the Ebb Tide. As a result he and his friends were on a hit list. On a week­day night 35 plus years ago I cov­ered the mur­der of Dominic D’Amico, and East Boston man. He was an asso­ciate of Barboza’s and had gone into a Boston club in what was then called the Com­bat Zone on lower Wash­ing­ton Street and straighten things out. He had police pro­tec­tion and ditch them think­ing he could make things right.

He was told to go to Revere and meet some­one near the Squire Club on Squire Road in North Revere. He did meet some­one or should we say some­one met him. When I got there he had been blown apart and was sit­ting slouched against the steer­ing wheel of his car about 100 yards from the club. I went to the scene from my home and met the overnight pho­tog­ra­phers who were work­ing.  Revere Police Offi­cer Mickey Cas­soli was in charge and teased me about allow­ing me to pho­to­graph the scene. Mickey was one of the great cops I got to work with over the years.

Another one of the group was Patsy Fabi­ano. Patsy was in hid­ing and at one point was put in the Charles Street Jail for pro­tec­tion. Kevin Cole, my col­league at the paper, got his pic­ture as he walked in the front door. Patsy was later killed gang­land style in the Boston area. I actu­ally knew Patsy; he hung out in Revere and went to Revere High.

Dur­ing this gang war time our great writer Harold Banks did a book on Bar­boza and word was out there was a “hit” on him.  Harold was the City Edi­tor on Sat­ur­days at the paper and his Assis­tant City Edi­tor was Tom Sul­li­van. Harold was ner­vous about what might hap­pen and had police pro­tec­tion, One Sat­ur­day, Tom Sul­li­van put up a big sign on the back of his chair which read “I am not Harold Banks” with an arrow on the sign point­ing to the Harold. It brought on a lot of laughs.

We were tight with the Dis­trict Attor­ney back then and we were set up to pho­to­graph Bar­boza as he was being escorted from one court room to another at the Pem­ber­ton Square Court House. A very ner­vous Dick Thom­son a col­league was sent on a Sat­ur­day morn­ing and the sus­pect was led across the cor­ri­dor well pro­tected by police. Our Sun­day edi­tion was the only paper that cap­tured the image. The end finally caught up with Bar­boza on the streets of San Fran­cisco report­edly by a Boston area hit man!

I was on Prince Street in Boston’s North End when they raided the offices of Gen­naro Angiulo the local crime boss. The office had been bugged and after culling the infor­ma­tion that was needed they pulled out all of the files, safes and what­ever else was mov­able. Of course the late and great Globe reporter Dick Con­nolly was there, note­book in hand and watch­ing the scene. Dick was so good at what he did I would be sur­prised if he did not get to lis­ten to the tapes that were recorded.

I had a friend who was told after offi­cials lis­tened to those record­ings he was on a hit list. My friend had pissed some Mafia peo­ple and it was time to even the score. The “law” wanted him to help them but instead he fled the Coun­try for sev­eral years till things cooled down.

The Angiulo office was less than a mile from the Man­ches­ter Street garage Whitey used to hang out with along with his part­ner Steve Flemmi. Most of the pho­tos we see of Whitey and Steve were taken in the area of that garage. Mass State Police had set up sur­veil­lance in a build­ing across from the site. All of a sud­den the pair stopped going to the garage and the rife between the FBI became more pro­nounced as they thought there was a leak com­ing from that office. Works out they were cor­rect and his name was John “Zip­per” Connolly.

Reporter Pam Cross and I were in a dis­trict court fol­low­ing Frank “Cadil­lac” Salemne, a Mafia boss and hit man. He sur­vived an attempt on his life dur­ing a day­time try on Route One in Saugus, MA, when sev­eral shots were fired at him and although he was hit he sur­vived.  Salemne at one time had fled Mass­a­chu­setts and was liv­ing in New York. FBI Agent John Con­nolly hap­pened to see him amongst 8 mil­lion peo­ple on a down­town Man­hat­tan Street and made the arrest. It was always felt he was one of the peo­ple Bul­ger and Flemmi dimed out and let Con­nolly know where he was. Salemne was sup­posed to be a friend of the pair.

Ray­mond Patri­arca with his attor­ney Joseph Bal­liro leav­ing a Boston court around 1967. Over Patriarca’s right shoul­der is Record Amer­i­can Reporter Tom Berube.

The big boss of the Mafia in New Eng­land was Ray­mond Patri­aca, the Mafia Don from Rhode Island. Get­ting a photo of him was a big deal as he put the fear of God in every­one and he always had his tipar­illo cigar in his mouth and did not say pleas­ant things to the media.

The first time I saw him was at Fed­eral Court in Boston. We were all wait­ing for his appear­ance, every­one was talk­ing, and I was the only one that spot­ted him when he walked by us. I raced in behind him as he got in the ele­va­tor and got the only photo as the ele­va­tor door closed. About an hour later he came out the same door and walked right through the crowd, every­one was alert this time. Both the AP and UPI pho­tog­ra­phers got bet­ter images than I did and the Edi­tor of the paper hung them up in the photo depart­ment to make sure we all knew we got beat.

The last time I saw Ray­mond was at a New Bed­ford Court when they brought him in by ambu­lance and stretchered him into his hear­ing. I got a great photo of him laid out. When he died we all went down to Rhode Island to the funeral home and cov­ered peo­ple going in and out of  the wake.

When I first began at the news­pa­per, bookie raids were big and we had sources to tell us when, where and every­thing we needed to know to be there when it hap­pened.  I was dis­patched to the 411 Club on Colum­bus Avenue in Boston’s South End. The sus­pects were being carted out and from there I fol­lowed the group to the Fed­eral Court House in Post Office Square. There were not any metal detec­tors in those days so keep­ing up with the group was no problem.

I got into an ele­va­tor but lit­tle did I know I got on with some of the sus­pects. One of them being a major player in the rack­e­teer­ing group, Dr. Harry “Doc” Sagan­sky, a Brook­line den­tist and big time bookie.  He was smok­ing a cigar and he turned to me flick­ing his ashes and said “If you take my pic­ture I will burn your eyes out.” I still have my eyes so you know what I did not do that day.

Another time the FBI was pick­ing up Mafia sus­pects along with Boston Police and they paraded the group across the street to the JFK build­ing from the Dis­trict One Police Sta­tion on New Sud­bury Street. It was a very orga­nized show and tell by the cops and at one point Vin­nie “The Ani­mal” Fer­rara, one of the key fig­ures, looks at me and says “get that light out of my eyes,” I said “yes sir” and moved onto some­one else.

I knew some of the vic­tims of Mafia hits. The beau­ti­ful wife of gang­ster Richie Cas­tucci, San­dra, used to shop at Arthur’s Cream­ery where I had my high school deliv­ery job. I loved going to his Revere Beach Boule­vard home as the tip was big and she was good to look at.

He report­edly felt oblig­ated to the FBI after they pro­vided some infor­ma­tion to him so he became a con­fi­dant. They found him wrapped up dead in the trunk of his car less than a mile from where Dam­ico was mur­dered on Lantern Road in Revere.   This was sup­pos­edly part of the Whitey Bulger’s group of killings. Another mur­der tied to FBI Agent, John “Zip­per” Con­nolly, who is serv­ing what should end up being life sen­tence in a Florida Jail.

When these gang wars first began my col­league Gene Dixon took a great photo of one of the vic­tims near the back of the old Boston Gar­den. Gene had gone up on the express­way and even told Globe pho­tog­ra­pher Ollie Noo­nan, Jr. where there was a good view. The pho­tos the two of them made with the light­ing, gird­ers and high­way made it look like the scene from a movie.

The Record Amer­i­can did not use the photo as they thought it was too grue­some and Gene walked around for weeks show­ing and talk­ing about all the sug­ges­tive pic­tures on the movie pages of the paper where every­one appeared to being hav­ing sex (not the words he used). What really got him pissed was see­ing Ollie’s photo in a dou­ble page spread in Life Mag­a­zine doing a story on under­world mur­ders and this was a good example.

Today, while chas­ing the story sur­round­ing Whitey’s cap­ture I was first sent to his brother’s Billy house then to his brother Jack’s house, both in South Boston. I was sit­ting there look­ing around work­ing to stay awake and as I looked up at two men talk­ing I real­ized one of them looked like Jackie. I picked up my video cam­era and zoomed in, it was him.

I started tap­ing the scene, jumped out of the car as he began walk­ing towards me. He had this big umbrella in his hand and all I could think of was I escaped the wrath of his brother and now he would do me in. Not to be, I said “Hello, would you like to talk to me?” he very angrily said “I am not talk­ing” and he walked back to his apartment.

The Rest of The Story:

My friend and col­league Mike Ander­sen updates me with his Patri­aca story. 

I could iden­tify with you pho­tograph­ing mob­sters.  Right after I started at the Record I was assigned to get a pic­ture of Ray­mond Patri­arca being arraigned in Fed­eral Court.  I didn’t even know how to get from Winthrop Square to the cour­t­house.  They told me to go to the press­room on the 14th floor and the reporter would help me.  I didn’t know cam­eras not only were not allowed in the court­room but weren’t allowed on the same floor.  So I was wan­der­ing around the 14th floor, look­ing for the press­room, and I was pass­ing the ele­va­tors when the ele­va­tor door opened and four men in suits got off, sur­round­ing this tough-looking, wiry lit­tle man.  “No pic­tures,” one of the suits said, and nat­u­rally I com­plied.  I didn’t even know it was Patri­arca but sensed it was.  Later I got a pic­ture of him in the back seat of the Mar­shalls’ car com­ing up out of the cour­t­house park­ing garage.  I told the pic­ture edi­tor not to put my credit line on the pic­ture; I didn’t want Patri­arca to know who took it.

See link to Margery Egan Story on Ben­nett Broth­ers:

http://bostonherald.com/news/columnists/view/2011_0626too_late_for_grieving_sisters/srvc=home&position=2

5Jun/110

Bears, Tears and Tornados!

One of the lucky ones as this home was deemed safe for occu­pancy. Less than a 1/4 mile from his home two peo­ple were killed by the tor­na­does in sep­a­rate incidents.

What a week, start­ing off on Sun­day cov­er­ing a fatal motor­cy­cle acci­dent. It was one of those smaller bikes or should I just say not a Harley. It was Sun­day morn­ing in Saugus, MA, around 6:30am when I took a run to a call that sounded serious.

When I got there Saugus Police had the area con­doned off and there was what was left of the bike. Half at one point of the area and the other half at the other side.  In the mid­dle was the driver’s seat and a hel­met with char marks from the result­ing fire after the bike went under a pickup truck and burst­ing into flames, the 20 year old dri­ver did not survive.

What was left of the burn­ing bike where a 20 year old was killed in Saugus.

The week before I was dri­ving north on Route One in Saugus when two of those bikes went fly­ing by me. The first one doing near 100 miles an hour almost tip­ping over as he made the curves. A few min­utes later I saw the bikes pulling into a restau­rant fur­ther up the road and I pulled in after them.

I rolled down my win­dow and iden­ti­fied myself as a news per­son and ask­ing them in no uncer­tain terms what they were doing dri­ving like that explain­ing in my way of explain­ing how many dead peo­ple I had seen as a result of crazi­ness like they dis­played. One of the rid­ers apol­o­gized and I said not to me pal but to your fam­ily after you are gone. When I asked the other if he wanted to die he shrugged his shoul­ders and walked away. I said don’t believe what Osama said you are not com­ing back.

On Mon­day of last week it got worse a 12 year old had drowned in the waters off of Hamp­ton Beach, New Hamp­shire. She went miss­ing around 8: pm Sun­day night after her and her 20 year old brother had gone for a swim.

Reporter Jack Harper and I caught up with the fam­ily Mon­day morn­ing and it was a home of a tragedy we walked into. The fam­ily could not have been nicer invit­ing us in to copy pho­tos of the young girl which were hang­ing on the wall then talk­ing to us about what happened.

Hamp­ton Beach after the 12 year old’s body was found.

The 20 year brother was dis­traught as he explained how he and his fam­ily decided at 5: pm there wasn’t much traf­fic and they should go to Hamp­ton Beach for some fun. Around 8pm the two of them decided to go for a swim. They did not real­ize how cold the water was or how stiff the cur­rent was flow­ing. In the water a cou­ple of min­utes and sud­denly his younger sis­ter was yelling for help and he was try­ing to reach her. He was blam­ing him­self for not being able to reach her and still hear­ing her shouts for help. He told us while try­ing and not suc­ceed­ing in keep­ing him­self com­posed how he became exhausted almost drown­ing him­self till a passerby pulled him to safety. It was awful to visu­al­ize and I am sure he will be keep­ing those awful mem­o­ries with him the rest of his life. A few hours later her body was dis­cov­ered about where she was last seen. She had come in with the cur­rents that took her away.

Wednes­day started off great chas­ing weather and quar­ter size hail. I did not get to catch up with the ice on my first run around nine in the morn­ing but the day con­tin­ued with a light­ning strike house fire in Andover then the call for a sight­ing of a bear that had been spot­ted the day before in Weston, MA.

I went from Andover to Way­land hop­ing I would be there for the cap­ture of the ani­mal who was shop­ping for food at the wrong restau­rant, neigh­bor­hood streets. There was sev­eral sight­ings that morn­ing and I was chas­ing police who were chas­ing the bear, lot of excite­ment and for me lots of fun as the only bears I had ever viewed were in captivity.

Jack Harper was once again going to be my part­ner and as the cops were search­ing the woods behind the house where the last sight­ing took place a call came in from neigh­bor­ing Fram­ing­ham they had the bear in sight about a mile from where I was.

I sped down route 126 not know­ing for sure where I was going but know­ing it was sup­posed to be just over the town line. I saw the enter­ing Fram­ing­ham sign and knew I was close but after dri­ving about a mile I decided I must have missed the street and yes I did on the first pass.

I spot­ted a police cruiser this time and got up to a fence where cops and civil­ians were yelling there it is there it is and a cou­ple of them con­vinced there were two bears. I jumped out of the car debat­ing whether to grab my tri­pod and decided I didn’t want to take the extra few sec­onds it would take and besides that car­ry­ing both a tri­pod and cam­era is hard on my back.

There I was look­ing through my black and white viewfinder with these peo­ple yelling there it is and no way I could spot it though the cam­era lens, a black bear, dark trees and leaves and no sep­a­ra­tion of colors.

I fig­ured I should get my tri­pod for the long wait for the bear to come out from the brush. While set­ting up the tri­pod and mount­ing the cam­era the group start­ing yelling again and I glanced to the left and there it was about 3 sec­onds of view and before I could shoot it (with the cam­era) it was gone. At least I got to see a bear in the woods.

We were wait­ing to do a live shot when the calls start­ing com­ing in about a pos­si­ble tor­nado in Spring­field. The weather con­di­tions where we were start­ing dete­ri­o­rat­ing and there was no way we could do a live shot, light­en­ing and wind were putting an end to that.

I was able to pull up one of the radio appli­ca­tions on my IPhone and lis­ten to fire calls in west­ern part of the State. There was con­fir­ma­tion of a touch down of at least one tor­nado in Spring­field which would later grow to three sep­a­rate tor­na­dos all being a cat­e­gory threes with gusts as high as 165 MPH.

Then the real fun began and believe me it wasn’t fun. Jack and I started head­ing West on the Pike for Spring­field about an hour away. It got very scary and Jack had been telling me about this great show on tor­na­dos he had watched the night before. At one point he said he wished he had not watched it as he now knew too much about them.

About 20 min­utes down the pike the sky got darker the rain heavy and the quar­ter size hail I missed in the morn­ing was pound­ing down on our vehi­cle bang­ing away like some­one was throw­ing rocks at us. We pulled over like many other vehi­cles and Jack did the first of three great phon­ers for the news reports. What a descrip­tion he gave as he put the viewer in our car watch­ing what we were seeing.

Con­tinue west we heard reports of a tor­nado trav­el­ling east par­al­lel to the Pike head­ing towards us as we headed west towards it. We were not sure what to do and were try­ing to fig­ure out where we take shel­ter if we see one. I think we both would have liked to see it as long as we could be safe. The only place I could see and it was kind of a joke was under a guardrail which I could never fit under and would prob­a­bly not help us anyway.

I would hear calls for build­ings col­laps­ing in Mun­son which ended up being one of the harder hit towns but Spring­field was our des­ti­na­tion as we knew it was a sure thing. After talk­ing our way into one of the rav­aged areas in the 200 block of Maple Street we could see how severe the dam­age was. Many trees uprooted, houses heav­ily dam­aged and peo­ple cling­ing to each other happy to have sur­vived the onslaught. It was tough to look at know­ing many of these peo­ple had not much to begin with and they lost what­ever was left.

Union Street, West Spring­field where a mother lost her life sav­ing her daughter.

That was day one of the storm and day two was worse as reporter Kelly Tuthill and I went to West Spring­field where two of the three peo­ple killed as a result of the storm lived. The first one we went to was a house that was no more where a 39 year old mother had grabbed her daugh­ter; put her in the bath tub with her and pro­tected her from the destruc­tion by lying on top of her. The 15 year old sur­vived with non life threat­en­ing injuries while the mother died doing what moth­ers do, try­ing to keep their chil­dren safe.

From there we trav­eled a few miles from that house to the home of a 23 year old man whose fam­ily had come from Rus­sia and his par­ents and eight sib­lings lived. He had been killed dri­ving down Main Street in West Spring­field after a tree fell on his vehi­cle crush­ing him.

We talked to his sis­ter who was a lovely young woman explain­ing to us what a won­der­ful brother he was and then talk­ing about watch­ing TVear­lier and hear­ing some­one had died after a tree had fallen. She told us how badly she felt for the vic­tim and his fam­ily. When she found out it was her brother her whole world was crushed.

The week finally ended for me in Mun­son where I saw more houses destroyed, peo­ple try­ing to sal­vage what they could which wasn’t much and hear­ing sto­ries of survival.

Total for week was five dead, scores of houses destroyed and sad­ness at every view.

 

 

10Mar/111

Lucky Sneezes Or Just A Cold?

Grow­ing up I was told by my mother or maybe it was my grand­mother that sneez­ing six times in a row was lucky. Of course back then the think­ing was it would bring a finan­cial mir­a­cle. Being very super­sti­tious and will­ing to put a quar­ter or so on a lot­tery ticket I always believed it would happen.

Well I have already hit the lot­tery of life and I am still try­ing for the finan­cial part of it. Yes like so many other believ­ers I know I will cash in that six digit ticket one of these days.

I sneeze a lot and count the sneezes. Of course when it comes about I make sure I drop to my knees oth­er­wise I will drop to my knees as I did in 1976 when I sneezed out my back. My father had to come to my Water­town apart­ment and prac­ti­cally carry me to the doctor.

Yes­ter­day, Tues­day the 8th of March I sneezed 9 times, which should be really lucky and since I don’t seem to be hit­ting the lot­tery it usu­ally means a good story. I am humored at the Chan­nel Five office about this and when I called the Assis­tant News Direc­tor, Gerry Ward­well, he laughed and said “what does that mean you are going to cover a rollover on Route 128?”

12 hours later I am sit­ting at the com­puter and Peabody Fire gives out a call for a tan­dem trac­tor trailer rollover on Route 128 at Route 95, eight miles from my home. I was beside myself and decided not to go as Ward­well was not going to get the last laugh.

A few min­utes later they upgraded the call and said the trailer that over­turned was car­ry­ing ink and it had cov­ered the road­way. I still did not want to go but when the sta­tion did a cut-in and the road­way looked like a rain­bow from the aer­ial view I slid down the pole and raced to the scene.

So was I right that some­thing would hap­pen or was Gerry right about a rollover on route 128?

Advan­tage Ward­well!

Video Links: http://www.thebostonchannel.com/video/27138099/detail.html

http://www.thebostonchannel.com/video/27134210/index.html

Filed under: All, Breaking News 1 Comment
19Feb/111

Coyote Rescue, Video, Stills and Freezing Temperatures

Coy­ote on an ice flow on the Charles River, Cam­bridge side behind the Son­esta Hotel and res­cuers on the way.

The first call I heard and there I was in the mid­dle of a snow storm, slip­pery roads, poor vis­i­bil­ity, red traf­fic lights, McDonald’s pit stop and with what lit­tle traf­fic there was on the roads seemed to be in front of me. Then it took 10 min­utes to get through every traf­fic lighted inter­sec­tion while my patience waned.

It seemed like I could not get a break. What was nor­mally a 25 minute ride turned into almost an hour and every minute it took me to get there put the res­cuers from the Ani­mal Res­cue League closer to their prey.

The good news was when I did get there the res­cuer in the wet suit was just being low­ered  via a rope into the Charles.  A fron­tend loader which cleared some of the snow had the  ropes tied to it and Sgt. Jim Dey­er­mond of MSP in con­trol of the ropes.

As I tried to park and watch at the same time there was a NECN team there, Mark Garfin­kle  of the Her­ald with all is lens, youth and know­ing what to do and the man who makes me  feel young Al McNaughton from WHDH who will be 73 in March. I hate being late and last.

I did not think I had time to put on my two rain jack­ets, one for me and one for the cam­era  so we both were not cov­ered prop­erly, plus I have a tough time work­ing with gloves so  my hands were uncov­ered. The good news was as soon as I dragged myself, video cam­era,  still cam­era and tri­pod to the rail­ing over­look­ing the Charles the coy­ote was no more than  30 feet from me strug­gling to stay afloat on an ice flow.

The res­cuer had the snare hook rope on a pole and the plan was to grab the “wild dog” and  drag it to the boat docks near where we were. The only prob­lem with the plan is the  Coy­ote was not going along with it. As the res­cuer made progress going towards the coy­ote the coy­ote would keep­ing mov­ing fur­ther away, falling through ice holes and pulling her­self up. The res­cuer was hop­ing it would be stuck with half its body in the water so it could be “saved.”

I was using the video cam­era then the still cam­era then the video cam­era. For what I do the video was more impor­tant for what I wanted the still cam­era was more fun. The only time I do coy­ote sto­ries in my 44 years was after it attacked a domes­tic ani­mal or was a safety nui­sance. Coy­otes are not taken hap­pily or lightly in this area.

The res­cue oper­a­tion went on for about 20 min­utes, I shot 12 min­utes of tape, took 20 some­thing stills and the last shot was of the ani­mal mak­ing its way across the Charles back to Boston. (One the­ory from Nancy Bent on the assign­ment desk is the peo­ple on Bea­con Hill put her on an ice­berg as it was prob­a­bly a cousin of the one that men­aced Louis­burg Square last month).

I was frozen when I got through; the cold had gone through me. My hands were numb along with my well booted feet. I was so cold I was nau­seous. I thought my day was over as I could not feel any­thing but pain. It took about 20 min­utes to get back to feel­ing com­fort­able. The good news is the sta­tion web­site ran 17 pho­tos and the pain seemed to be worth it.

The res­cuers packed up their gear and went look­ing for her on the Boston side of the Charles. A few hours later we were noti­fied she was cap­tured and brought to the Tufts Vet­eri­nary Hos­pi­tal in Grafton in good shape.

She was sched­uled to be released this past week­end into a safe environment.

Video on www.TheBostonChannel.com:

http://www.thebostonchannel.com/video/26693538/detail.html

Not my first ani­mal res­cue on the Charles.

In Jan­u­ary of 1978 I was about 100 yards from these same docks at the MIT boat house where there was a dog stuck on the ice. I got there with the first arriv­ing police and brought my Golden Retriever down to the dock to try and lure the dog back to safety.

Glossy” barked and wagged her tail and the dog made it back to land. Some­thing like the movie we saw last night, “No Strings Attached.”

Filed under: All, Breaking News 1 Comment
13Feb/114

Nine Lives Minus One

Rou­tine call from Joe Roche on the assign­ment desk, cat on a pole in Rox­bury, please take a look. When I got there Danielle Gen­ter from the Ani­mal Res­cue League was already there, I worked with her two weeks ago on the coy­ote rescue.

Look­ing around I saw noth­ing but her vehi­cle and the deep snow I thought I was going to have to trudge through to find this kit­ten.  I looked up there she was, perched on the top of a tele­phone pole with­out a care in the world. She was prac­ti­cally doing a bal­let dance on her perch. Pranc­ing around, giv­ing her­self a bath, not a care in the world.  The only prob­lem it’s owner a sweet elderly woman was just about panicked.

There I was stand­ing and talk­ing to her as she told me Chan­nel Five was her favorite sta­tion, the rea­son she called us for help. She could not under­stand why the fire depart­ment and the Ani­mal Res­cue League res­cuer would not just climb up the pole and bring her 3 month old kit­ten “Star” down to safety. Worked out a neigh­bor dog chased the kit­ten up the pole the night before.

I know she did not under­stand when I explained to her the power lines were too dan­ger­ous for every­one but an elec­tri­cal worker.   She wanted no part of my expla­na­tion and for the next 90 min­utes or so kept com­plain­ing. In between explain­ing and try­ing to ease her anx­i­ety I was mov­ing the tri­pod around and tak­ing great video and still pho­tos of the most care­free kit­ten you would ever want to see, both media pro­duced com­pelling images, espe­cially if you are an ani­mal lover.

I had given up the wait for NStar and was pulling out of my park­ing space when I looked out the side view mir­ror and there was our future hero. The NStar truck pulled up and the tech­ni­cian accessed the sit­u­a­tion and went to work.

He first put up the bucket to see if the kit­ten would just jump into it and when that did not work he got out this exten­sion pole and just kept pulling out sec­tion after sec­tion after sec­tion, till it was long enough to reach the top of the pole. I had no idea what his plan was but I knew I had to grab a spot where I could be sit­ting down and bal­ance my video cam­era on my knees so it could look straight up.  I picked the icy stair­way lead­ing to the own­ers apart­ment tip­toed up and got to work. Bend­ing back­wards with the cam­era on my shoul­der and look­ing up doesn’t work any­more on this old achy body.

The NStar man kept try­ing to push the kit­ten off the top and the kit­ten kept dodg­ing the pole. It went on for a about a minute as the tech­ni­cian had great con­trol of the pole and the cat seemed to keep it’s bal­ance.  All of a sud­den the kit­ten started run­ning down the pole a cou­ple of feet and then leaped for safety. It ended up miss­ing the hard­ened snow pile but landed first on the Danielle Genter’s shoul­der then bounced into the hard­ened snow bank. Danielle had a blan­ket with her, grabbed the kit­ten like she was a short­stop on a base­ball team and ran it into the woman’s home, with all of us fol­low­ing her.

The kit­ten was fine, no worse for the ordeal. The owner was elated and she thanked every­one. The NStar worker told her to call any­time she had a kit­ten stuck up a tree.

Video Link To Rescue:

http://www.thebostonchannel.com/video/26788814/detail.html

Filed under: All, Breaking News 4 Comments
5Jan/114

Esp, Coincidence Or Just Life?

Over the last few months I have had three inci­dents of ESP or at least what I think is ESP. It started when I was sit­ting in the North End lis­ten­ing to the scan­ners and all of a sud­den I thought of Jef­fery Curley.

He was a young boy mur­dered by two male pedophiles in Cam­bridge in the 90s. Through the ordeal I became friends with his father Bob Cur­ley. Bob was the mechanic for the Cam­bridge Fire Department.

Shortly after the thought I was called to come to the office in Need­ham, Mass­a­chu­setts to pick up a reporter. As I left the North End I made a con­scious deci­sion to go to the office via Stor­row Drive instead of hop­ping on the Pike. From where I was parked it was a coin toss for which way to Need­ham was fastest.

I would be get­ting off at the “Coke Plant” ramp which is now Guest Quar­ters Hotel. As I was get­ting off the ramp to get on the Pike, I saw a man jog­ging and it caught my atten­tion, it was Bob Cur­ley just tak­ing the turn from Memo­r­ial Drive onto the Esplanade of Stor­row Drive going east. I rolled down my win­dow and yelled out “Hi Mr. Cur­ley” he acknowl­edged me and I just kept dri­ving shak­ing my head of what a coincidence.

A few weeks later while walk­ing my dogs I got to think­ing about the movie “The Thorn Birds” with Richard Cham­ber­lain and the scene where Bar­bara Stan­wyck orders him to shoot one of the dogs when it was too aggres­sive get­ting its din­ner. Then I started to think, what­ever hap­pened to Dr. Kil­dare (Richard Cham­ber­lain) from a show that was on in the 60s or 70s? I won­dered if he was still alive.

Two days later Deb­bie (my wife) and I were watch­ing “Broth­ers and Sis­ters” and who makes a guest appear­ance but Richard Cham­ber­lain. Another case of ESP?

Ear­lier this month, I was search­ing for a Logan Air­port photo which I am writ­ing about and came across a photo from 1977. It was of a Chelsea lad­der res­cue where Lt. Joe Von­Han­dorf res­cued a 16 year old girl, made July 9th, the day before my 32nd birth­day. I had not seen or thought of this photo for almost 30 years. I took the photo while work­ing the mid­night shift. I was dri­ving to the fire on Broad­way in Chelsea and I could see a lad­der res­cue on Cary Avenue in progress and got there in time to get some images.

Two days after see­ing this photo, I was sent to Sher­born, Mass­a­chu­setts to get real estate footage of the scene of an ear­lier acci­dent. I could not fig­ure out exactly where the tree was that was struck and on the road­way there was a Sher­born Police Cruiser. I pulled up next to it, rolled my win­dow down as did the cop inside and asked which tree got hit.

He asked me who I was and I said “Stan­ley from Chan­nel Five.” He then asks “Stan­ley For­man?” I said “yes.” He then said he has a story to tell me.

We both get out of our cars and when he said his name, Chris Van­Hand­off the bells started ring­ing in my head. Then he starts to tell me I pho­tographed his father who was a Chelsea Fire­fighter. I inter­rupted him and told him about the photo and I had just looked at it the day before. He gave some details about his father and we both were amazed at the coincidence.

July 9, 1977, Chelsea MA, Broad­way at Cary Avenue

From the Chelsea Fire Depart­ment Union Book that year: On the back it says “Pulitzer prize win­ning pho­tog­ra­pher Stan­ley For­man caught this dra­matic moment on July 9, 1977, at 59 Cary Ave, Fire LT. Joe Von­Han­dorf res­cues Miss Estelle Scott, 16, over the aer­ial of Lad­der 1, over heavy smoke in her third floor apart­ment. (Box 34, 2 alarms, 3:30am)”.

I was also told he was five years old when the photo and res­cue took place. At his father’s wake in 2005 a fam­ily friend came up to him, intro­duces her­self and told him that his father had res­cued her almost 30 years before. This was the young woman in the photo.

I am hop­ing to catch up with her and even­tu­ally do a story. What you think ESP, Coin­ci­dence Or Just Life?

Jan­u­ary 6, 2011

The saga con­tin­ues as this past week­end while dub­bing VHS videos to DVDs from my children’s younger years I came across a Chan­nel Five’s news broad­cast of a fire in Chelsea from the mid 90s. As I am watch­ing some of the videos as they are being dubbed there was an inter­view and inter­vie­wee was Lt. Joe VonHandorf.

I made a copy of the video for his son Chris and sent it off. This is the heart warm­ing response I received today via email.

Between my Mom, sis­ter, and I we’ve got­ten so much pos­i­tive feed­back from your story. We can’t be any more appre­cia­tive. Also, I received your video.…it was pretty emo­tional for me. It was the first time my young sons had ever heard my Dad’s voice and had seen him in any­thing other than pho­tos. It’s a gift I’ll pass along to them someday.…thank you. To kinda go hand and hand with your story, my dad’s six year anniver­sary is Tues­day the 11th. Coin­ci­dence or hap­pened for a rea­son. –Chris

From my Facebook:

Chris Von My own per­sonal opin­ion, from a cop’s perspective.…there is no such thing as a coin­ci­dence, things hap­pen for a rea­son. I have always believed that and always will. Thanks for the story Stan, my Dad is smil­ing down.

The cer­tifi­cate from the City of  Chelsea pro­vided to me by Chris Van­Hand­off.

20Dec/104

My First Dead On Arrival

One of 8 vic­tims is removed from the burn­ing wreck­age of a Bud­liner Train, Decem­ber 1966

My father and I went to the Bru­ins game at Boston Gar­den sit­ting in my sea­son tick­ets on Row 73, seats 3 and 4. It was Decem­ber 26 or 27th, 1966, just one month into my new job. Dur­ing the game one of the Plex­i­glas pan­els got shat­tered after a puck hit it.  The shooter was Mur­ray Oliver of the Bru­ins and it delayed the game about 30 min­utes for the repair.

We went home after the game and I got to bed around 11:30. I had just put my head on the pil­low when Everett or Chelsea put on an alarm of fire for a col­li­sion between a Bud­liner Train and a tanker truck car­ry­ing gaso­line at a rail­road cross­ing on the line between those two cities.

I jumped out of bed ran down the hall to my par­ents bed­room and asked my father if he wanted to go with me.  We were in the car in a cou­ple of minutes.

When we got about a block from the scene of the crash there were pud­dles of flam­ing gaso­line rolling down the tracks towards us. We got out and I began tak­ing pic­tures. I was using a 2 1/4 for­mat cam­era, either a Yashica or a Mamiya Cam­era (I had both at the time), and for light I was using flashbulbs.

We made our way up to the point of impact and the first image I got was of res­cuers remov­ing a burned vic­tim from a blown out win­dow of one of the train cars. The sec­ond shot was of a priest giv­ing last rites to another vic­tim as he was being taken from the burned wreck­age over a rescuer’s shoul­der. I made sev­eral other pho­tos and in the end eight peo­ple died in the fiery accident.

When I got out of the car I only had a box of flash­bulbs and one roll of film in my cam­era for 12 images. I tried to no avail to get another roll from a cou­ple of pho­tog­ra­phers that were there. I saw Archie New­man, a pho­tog­ra­pher from my paper. I told him about the shots I had and he told me to get right the office in order to get the pho­tos in the last edition.

My father and I made our way to 5 Winthrop Square, in down­town Boston where the Record Amer­i­can was at that time, and ran up the stairs to notify the edi­tors of the pic­tures and we started to develop my film.

The pic­ture edi­tor, Bobby Hol­land, was stand­ing over me wait­ing very excit­edly. After he looked at my neg­a­tives he was even more excited. I remem­ber not really know­ing what I was doing as I was so ner­vous work­ing under such pres­sure to print pictures.

Bobby took wet prints, squeegeed them off and ran to photo engrav­ing. A lit­tle while later they asked me if I could go to the morgue and wait with a reporter for the peo­ple show­ing up to iden­tify the deceased. My father took a taxi back home to Revere. He was happy to do what­ever as he was a part of my first big story.

Thank­fully no one showed up at the morgue while I was there. Den­nis Brear­ley (of The Brear­ley Col­lec­tion at Faneuil Hall in Boston) even­tu­ally relieved me and he got a very good photo of a griev­ing rel­a­tive to go with the paper’s fol­low­ing stories.

Next morn­ing when the day­side staff came into work I received hand­shakes and ver­bal con­grat­u­la­tions from every­one. I was the rookie pho­tog­ra­pher and I scored big time. We owned the story due to my photographs.

Both AP and UPI picked up my neg­a­tives at day­break and I won my first con­test with the photo of the res­cue through the win­dow at the yearly AP com­pe­ti­tion. It was a great start even if I still had 11 months of pro­ba­tion till I was an offi­cial staff member.

The morn­ing paper had another great photo of the scene by Leo Tier­ney. His image showed the tanker up against the train and even though I might have had a great action photo his really told the story. Leo was a lit­tle upset as he had his young son, Mar­tin, rid­ing with him that night and was sorry he had to see such a calamity.

This made me think through the years as to what I could take my girls to and when to leave them home. Some­times things I went to were inap­pro­pri­ate for them so I would leave them in the car and if I let leave the car I was always watch­ing over my shoul­der to make sure they were safe.

My wife Deb­bie used to go with me to sto­ries when we first met until the day we cov­ered the shoot­ing death of a Chelsea police­man and she saw his widow being brought to the police sta­tion to be told what had hap­pened and I pho­tographed her going in.

Leo and I talked about his scene photo after­ward and he explained to me about an inci­dent he cov­ered in down­town Boston years before. A crane over­turned and he got the photo of the crane oper­a­tor on a stretcher. He said he was run­ning back to the office all excited when he saw Mor­ris Ostroff, another staff pho­tog­ra­pher, mak­ing his way to the scene.  Mor­ris asked him if he had a scene shot and Leo just shook his head no. Mor­ris got the image of the over­turned crane and got page one while Leo’s photo was a 2 col­umn cut on the jump page. A les­son learned.

Every Christ­mas I think about this tragedy. I never looked at the train sched­ule to see if that 30 min­utes lost to replac­ing the Plex­i­glas would have made a dif­fer­ence for many of the vic­tims. Sev­eral of them had just left the Bru­ins game and took the train north. I never looked to see if there were ear­lier options. I guess I did not want to know.

I think about these vic­tims fre­quently. It is 44 years later and all they missed in life as there were both young and older peo­ple who did not make it. We got pho­tos of most of the deceased and inter­views with fam­i­lies and some of the sur­vivors. You felt closer to their lives by see­ing and read­ing who they were.

I have always said I don’t wish for some­thing bad to hap­pen but as a news pho­tog­ra­pher I want to be there.

7Dec/101

Hanging out and Hanging Up

PARACHUTIST DOWN BUT NOT OUT

Mon­day Octo­ber 11, 2010

My first shift of the week started off early. I got a call from Joe Roche on the assign­ment desk at my sta­tion WCVB-TV about a hit run fatal in Revere by the Won­der­land Dog Track rotary. Sec­ond call on this story got me to Lynn where the sus­pect was found at a methadone clinic and where his car was located. It was towed before I got there. I care­fully took video of the build­ing mak­ing sure I did not show any of the peo­ple who were get­ting treat­ment there.

On my way from Lynn to the Revere scene I heard a call on one of the news group chan­nels I mon­i­tor about a para­chutist who was stuck in the trees in Dun­sta­ble adja­cent to the Pep­perell Air­port where sky­div­ing is a hobby.

I called in and started head­ing to the scene. All the way there I could hear var­i­ous res­cue units head­ing to the scene and one of the fre­quen­cies said it was too far in the woods for the lad­der truck to reach the man in the trees so a rope oper­a­tion would be used.

In the mean­time one of the places the office was call­ing insisted the para­chutist was res­cued caus­ing con­fu­sion. I knew bet­ter as the out­side res­cue units were still responding.

I had my GPS on but still I was not sure exactly where I was going. I did know some of the respond­ing res­cuers which I hoped would help.

When I got near Dun­sta­ble a Rehab Five vehi­cle dri­ven by Roger Baker (it is a vol­un­teer group who help at fire­fighter involved scenes with hydra­tion and other needs) and an out of town fire chief passed me.

I fell in behind them but they were mov­ing too quickly for me to keep up with and although I was com­mu­ni­cat­ing with Baker via our Nextel’s he went one way and I went another.  I ended up about 8 miles out of the way at Pep­perell Air­port look­ing up and see­ing lots of para­chutes float­ing down but nowhere near where I needed to be.

The good news was I knew the res­cue was not com­pleted and the man in the trees was talk­ing to res­cuers which meant he was con­scious and alert. I still had time to get there.

Then I went to the scene but the way the day was going with my geog­ra­phy con­tin­ued and I went to the wrong side of the res­cue oper­a­tion. Police were there and I  was told where the press was located and how to get there. Of course that was another ten min­utes away.  In the mean­time from radio chat­ter I knew the res­cue was not imminent.

I was one of the last TV sta­tions there but I had a plan. The first thing I said to the group was I think I can get us into the res­cue oper­a­tion and if I did I would be the pool pho­tog­ra­pher. They all agreed. I knew a cou­ple of the Chiefs oper­at­ing at the scene from the many fire related inci­dents I have gone to over the years and most fire chiefs real­ize the use of good pub­lic rela­tions and when this res­cue was com­pleted it had all the mark­ings of great work and a good train­ing exer­cise for their review. I wanted to be involved.

In the mean­time Kelly Tuthill had arrived with one of our satel­lite trucks. For over an hour we were all shoot­ing what we thought was the para­chute and res­cuers through the trees. Most of our video cam­era dis­plays are viewed through a black and white viewfinder so try­ing to fig­ure out what was a branch and what was the para­chute was very dif­fi­cult. I would pick a branch or two with my bare eyes and then try and find it through the viewfinder. Thank­fully I did not have to rely on this footage for our final product.

One of the Fire Chiefs came out and said they were ready for the pool pho­tog­ra­pher and it would be me. I grabbed my video cam­era, tri­pod, IPhone, dig­i­tal cam­era for stills, extra bat­ter­ies and tape. I then asked Brian Foley the Chief Pho­tog­ra­pher at WBZ if he would like to join me.

When we got into the scene the dreaded yel­low tape was up but it was only up to show us where we could be. We had a great loca­tion, able to move around and see every­thing you could see but the tree branches were an issue from cer­tain angles.

The res­cuers were fin­ish­ing putting their ropes and pul­leys in place, talk­ing to the para­chutist, Andrew Stack. Brian and I were run­ning around try­ing to cover all the angles.  I was shoot­ing with three cam­eras to begin with and Brian asked if he could help and I handed him the tri­pod and video cam­era. It was great and more fun for me to shoot stills and I knew Brian would do a great job.

We were in the woods prob­a­bly about 15 min­utes and I likened what they were doing to what I saw when I was in the woods in Man­ches­ter By The Sea after the Hood Blimp landed in their woods. Back then I did not have a great still cam­era but the video was ter­rific. This time both still and video images were very good and of course the best part in both inci­dents the men were res­cued with­out seri­ous injury. No injuries for the Hood Blimp Pilot and only leg injuries for the parachutist.

After the res­cue one of the Chiefs talked with us and adding that a new high angle res­cue unit has recently been train­ing and what they have learned was used in this res­cue. There were a cou­ple of pro­fes­sional para­chutists that came over from the air­port who had gone in the woods to help find the vic­tim and talked with him.  They described what they believed hap­pened. They both thought it was user error.

Back at the office I talked with Karen Lip­pert a pho­tog­ra­pher I work with who has done over 1100 jumps and this is her descrip­tion from watch­ing and read­ing the sto­ries that went with the incident;

“The vic­tim was a newly licensed sky­diver who lost alti­tude aware­ness and deployed his canopy late. Because he was late in deploy­ing his canopy he did not have the alti­tude or time to nav­i­gate his way back to the drop zone and ended up in the trees.”

Kelly and I went to Low­ell Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal from there wait­ing to see if we could talk with the vic­tim or his wife but noth­ing hap­pened the first day.  We went back up another day and still noth­ing then on the third day Andrew Stack agreed to talk to us (so we would leave him alone).

He was great explain­ing exactly what he thought hap­pened and he felt his hand altime­ter had not func­tioned cor­rectly thus he did not deploy his chute on time. Luck­ily his auto­matic chute did.  He knew he was a lucky man and we joked about his next jump which he hoped would be in the spring if his wife lets him.

I have been in con­tact with Andrew via email and I hope to be invited when he does his next jump, it should be fun!

3Dec/102

Another Soldier To Remember

Scott Mil­ley Age 23

I have been cov­er­ing the sol­diers return­ing home from bat­tle since the Viet­nam War; some happy return­ing men and women and way too many sad stories.

One that par­tic­u­larly stands out to me is a very happy East Boston sol­dier return­ing to Logan happy and healthy from ‘Nam. We were allowed out on the tar­mac to be there for the greeting.

Then there are the many sad sto­ries of sol­diers who did not return home. I was in Woburn, MA when the fam­ily of one of the last sol­diers killed in Viet­nam was noti­fied of his death. I can still remem­ber his father talk­ing with us and his younger brother being incred­i­bly emo­tional and hat­ing every­thing that was hap­pen­ing. He later joined the Marines like his brother but ended up in a wheel­chair after a car acci­dent on the West Coast.  Every time I drive into Woburn via Mont­vale Ave, I think of the fam­ily as I drive by their home.

There was a Green Beret from the Worces­ter area that was killed in the Granada Con­flict. I cov­ered the funeral where the brother of the deceased deliv­ered a eulogy and after he got through his very painful speech he put his hands up to sig­nal vic­tory and said, “I did it!” He was so sad yet so proud of his brother’s ulti­mate sac­ri­fice for the United States.

In the last few years between Iraq and Afghanistan con­flicts there have sadly been many more funer­als to cover.  I’ll never for­get the funeral of a female lieu­tenant from Swamp­scott and the sound of the “clop clop clop” of the horse’s hooves hit­ting the pave­ment as the white horse drawn hearse car­ried her to her final rest­ing place as her boyfriend rode upfront on a bit­terly cold morning.

In Leomin­ster, the fam­ily of a sol­dier let us come into their home after their son’s body was brought to the local funeral home for bur­ial and talked to us so bravely about their hero son.

There are many more mem­o­ries of both happy and sad home­com­ings but yesterday’s meet­ing with the fam­ily of Lt. Scott Mil­ley, a 23 year old sol­dier from Sud­bury, will rank as one of the sad­der home­com­ings I have witnessed.

Scott Mil­ley Age 23

Joe Roche, the assign­ment edi­tor, had called the fam­ily ear­lier in the day. After speak­ing with the brother and sis­ter of the sol­dier, Joe spoke with the boy’s father. Tears were soon flow­ing on both ends of the phone and Chan­nel Five was invited to the fam­ily home to talk with Mr. Mil­ley about his son.

As we were dri­ving down their street in Sud­bury, MA, I asked Jack Harper the reporter I was with what the house num­ber of the fam­ily home was and his reply was, “Where all the cars will be.”

Sure enough, there were 15 plus cars and dou­ble that in peo­ple in the yard of the family’s home. As we walked up, I began shoot­ing video of Stephen Mil­ley, the soldier’s father, hug­ging every­one as they arrived.  It was very painful to watch and lis­ten to him greet his fam­ily and friends.

He soon spot­ted Jack and walked over to greet him with his arms out­stretched. He was cry­ing in a way that only a heart bro­ken father can. He hugged Jack and then did the same to me. Through the tears the three of us shared, both Jack and I were able to express how sorry we were for his loss and express how much we wished we did not meet under these circumstances.

Although he was clearly dis­traught over the death of his son, Mr. Mil­ley was proud and artic­u­late when dis­cussing his son. He told us Scott wanted to be a sol­dier from the time he was three years old. From every­thing he said about his son it is evi­dent that he was a won­der­ful man, a great ath­lete, a lov­ing brother and every parent’s dream son. Mr. Mil­ley summed it up with one state­ment: “Scott was liv­ing his dream. It has now become our nightmare.”

Please see Jack Harper’s mov­ing story via the link below.

http://www.thebostonchannel.com/video/25994532/detail.html

Mr. Milley’s Uncut Speech:

http://www.thebostonchannel.com/news/25972688/detail.html

Filed under: All, Breaking News 2 Comments
30Nov/102

A Thanksgiving To Remember

Boston Fire­fighter George Gir­van rushes Tammi to safety after her res­cue from her home on West Sixth Street, South Boston in 1977.

For 44 years this past week I have been cov­er­ing the news of the day around New Eng­land, mostly in Boston. I have tried to cap­ture the moment of many news events and most of them were not happy stories.

Per­son­ally, when I pho­to­graph a story I always try not to por­tray a vic­tim as “a vic­tim”. I don’t per­form brain surgery or save lives directly, but I hope that some of my images might have changed a life for the pos­i­tive, or made some­one feel bet­ter about what is hap­pen­ing or has hap­pened with­out hurt­ing those directly involved in the story along the way.

This past July, Tammi Brown­lee (full story on web­site) con­tacted me about an image I took in Jan­u­ary, 1977.  It was a long time ago but for­tu­nately I had the neg­a­tives and was able to help Tammi and do a cou­ple of great news sto­ries along the way.

I received an email this morn­ing which I want to share. For me, it sort of makes the pho­tos I have taken that have caused peo­ple pain when look­ing at them worth­while.  Tammi has given me per­mis­sion to share but first I will tell you about my great day, Thursday.

Steve Lacy, a WCVB-TV reporter, and I trav­eled to Tammi’s home to inter­view her and her brother David Gladu whom she has spent more than half her life search­ing for to do a Thanks­giv­ing story for the 6 o’clock news.  We were both very excited about the story but of course who knew how good it would look on air?

We arrived to a happy home where Tammi and her two chil­dren Chris and Ash­ley along with her boyfriend Chad were get­ting ready for Thanks­giv­ing and her brother David along with his wife Tina would be join­ing in the dinner.

Tammi and David

The day was both fun and sad but more impor­tantly it was a remem­brance of how bad life can be and then how good it can become. We learned a lot from the con­ver­sa­tions.  I knew Tammi had been search­ing for a half brother and sis­ter since her teenage years but I did not know that her brother David had no idea that Tammi existed.

He told us he had been given up for adop­tion when he was two along with his sis­ter Eleanor who was one at the time.  He spent a few years in fos­ter care and was adopted when he was six.  He had no idea that Eleanor existed until he was around fif­teen years old and then his search began.  He got nowhere and finally stopped the active search.

Tammi found out in her teens that her brother and sis­ter existed and she con­tin­ued the search for more than half her life.  David only learned about Tammi in the last cou­ple of months. Tammi found him on Octo­ber 7th this year after she had found Eleanor a few months before.

It was a really feel good story.  I don’t cover that many of those types of sto­ries and Steve did a won­der­ful job of putting it out for view­ers.  Here I have been think­ing what a won­der­ful thing this has been for me and today I got this email which makes it all worthwhile.

Tammi’s Email

I am so glad to be able to meet my brother and sis­ter this year!  I am pleased with the videos that were done for both my sis­ter and me and my brother and me as well!  I have been think­ing a lot about the book I have writ­ten and even though I have not come up with a proper name for it yet (it will come to me) I have thought about how I want the cover of the book to look.  The pic­ture that you took of the fire­fighter car­ry­ing me I think would be a per­fect one to use, one of the titles I have thought of is “Out of the Fire and Ashes”, this one stays with me.  What do you think?

Thank you so much for help­ing me, your excite­ment kept me going, where years past I would give up and wait till I had the strength to search again, but you gave me the per­se­ver­ance to stick with it longer and that is how I was able to find them.  I will always be grate­ful to you for that!  It has been hard to write my story, as I have buried almost all of my mem­o­ries to pro­tect myself, most of them are not good.  But my end­ing is per­fect!  David, Eleanor and I are plan­ning a time already of when we can all get together; I still need a pic­ture of all three of us!

I hope you have a great day!

Tammi

Please visit my web­site for the links to the sto­ries about the Southie Fire 1977.

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