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/131

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

 

 

 

 

18Dec/120

Immobilizer Prison Or Is It Just Me

The miss­ing ten­don is the blank space above the knee (bot­tom of image). After surgery it was reat­tached but I have no inten­tion of vol­un­teer­ing for another MRI or as I call a ride in a casket.

It began on a great Sun­day, no Patri­ots game to watch till Mon­day night, time to get our Christ­mas tree and maybe if it was dry enough set it up in the house.  Big plans that all went to an immobilizer.

The tree was up and lots of our dec­o­ra­tions were brought out for dec­o­rat­ing the house. My task was to get the extended spout water can.  An easy task, check both sheds and find it. It was in the back shed and I walked up the lit­tle ramp, no more than 2 feet high and almost level as it is extended so the slop is not that steep.

Com­ing back down I slipped, tried to catch my bal­ance, put my instincts in place and tried to brake myself.  Prob­lem is it was like rac­ing down the street on your bike, press­ing the front brakes and going over the han­dle­bars. I don’t have han­dle­bars so instead my left quad ten­don snapped send­ing over and out in excru­ci­at­ing pain rav­aging through my body.

It was the worst pain I have ever had and once before I had a sim­i­lar inci­dent but that time it was an Achilles ten­don. This time I went down scream­ing yelling for help but of course it is win­ter and the win­dows and doors were shut and my fam­ily could not hear me. After what seemed like a long time I thought I was hav­ing a heart attack and the pain con­tin­ued.  I reached for my cell phone in my sweat­pants pocket and for once I did not have it with me. I carry it every­where and if it were water­proof I would have it in the shower with me.

Luck­ily my neigh­bors Gerda and Don Pasquarello did hear me. Don an emer­gency room doc­tor at Bev­erly Hos­pi­tal hopped over a fence and checked to see if I was hav­ing a heart attack.  He was relieved to hear it was only my leg as he thought he was about to start chest compressions.

After surgery last Tues­day I am on crutches and in an immo­bi­lizer for at least a month, then I go to a smaller brace, phys­i­cal ther­apy and hope­fully full repair in the next few months.

Surgery is not new to me as I had my ton­sils out when I was around two in my house and was oper­ated on in a high chair. I can still remem­ber the group of med­ical peo­ple com­ing in the house, me in my paja­mas and then one of them open­ing a can and telling me to take a whiff.  I screamed, jumped up and down and then woke up blow­ing bub­bles. The only thing I could eat was ice cream for sev­eral weeks.

My asso­ci­a­tion with phys­i­cal pain began when I was a lit­tle kid as my appen­dix would kick up every once in a while and I would have severe stom­ach pains.  My stom­ach pain went away after I had emer­gency surgery at age 14, four days before my fresh­man prom. My date came by to see me in the hos­pi­tal as another friend of ours date got sick so those two got together.

The clos­est I ever came to being a jock was when I went to a cou­ple of prac­tices for the fresh­man foot­ball team. I was jog­ging around the field when stepped in a hole and cracked a bone in my ankle. That big NFL con­tract was left on the field at the Garfield Junior High in Revere.

From there is was sort of clear sail­ing till 1978 when I was play­ing rac­quet­ball and some­thing snapped. I went down and almost out while my friend John Premack mas­saged the area and the severe pain sub­sided.  I spent most of the Bliz­zard of 78 in a full cast, with a bent  right leg and I used crutches to get around for 8 weeks then a walk­ing cast for 5 weeks.  Only thing funny about that is I was in my walk­ing cast on route 93 for a tanker explo­sion when the cast got wet from the foam and I had to go to the sur­geon to have it rebuilt. He was not happy but he admired my determination.

I got out in the bliz­zard one night as Chip Hoar the pub­lic rela­tions per­son for his National Guard unit came to my house to take me and my cam­era out to see the dam­age.  Of course I was like dead weight and they had to drag me through the snow to put me in the back of the army truck and take me around. We went to Hull to see the dam­age on Nan­tas­ket Beach then we went to a three-alarm fire on Dorch­ester Avenue in Boston.  I had brought a portable scan­ner with me so we knew more than we were assigned to know.

After that there was 4 her­nias, wis­dom teeth and of course some other fool­ish issues your body develops.

I am so lucky as I have my awe­some wife Deb­bie tak­ing care of me with the help of my phys­i­cal ther­apy daugh­ter Molly watch­ing every step I take and my RN daugh­ter Han­nah help­ing me with my medication.

A reminder to my read­ers, don’t go any­where with­out your phone. You don’t have to answer it but it will be there in case of an emergency.

No, I am not about to deliver the old Record American/Sunday Adver­tiser. It is the per­fect carry all for some­one who can carry noth­ing. Thanks to my col­league Steve Carro for find­ing it.

Thank­fully all of my surg­eries and ill­nesses have only been incon­ve­niences and I will be back out there chas­ing news or what­ever else this old body can do next year and hope­fully for many more to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22Nov/123

Kirby Perkins an A+ Type of Guy

Kirby, 1990s,
Carol Fatta photo

For most peo­ple life is short no mat­ter how long you live. Hope­fully, along the way you meet cer­tain peo­ple who make your life bet­ter and will always remain in your memories.

I first met Kirby in 1978 when I was sit­ting at home with a cast up to my butt after hav­ing my Achilles ten­don reat­tached from a rac­quet­ball injury. The best man at my wed­ding, John Premack, brought him by my Roslin­dale apart­ment while check­ing in on me.  I remem­ber Kirby telling me a few years later he saw this fat guy walk­ing around on crutches and won­dered how I could have ever won two Pulitzers.

Kirby began as a “lumper,” which meant work­ing with the pho­tog­ra­phers and car­ry­ing their tri­pod and lights, basi­cally the photographer’s bitch.  He didn’t mind as he had big plans for him­self.  He was just work­ing his way around to the front of the cam­era and he went onto become one of Boston’s pre­mier reporters.  I began work­ing with him in 1983, when I switched from the news­pa­per to TV news.

Kirby became one of my favorite reporters to work with along Martha Rad­datz (for­merly Bradlee), Susan Wor­nick, and Jack Harper. There have been many oth­ers I enjoyed work­ing with but if forced to choose those 4 were my favorites. Kirby was espe­cially fun as he was smart and always will­ing to go with dis­cov­ery as dis­cov­ery is what made him as good as it got.

Although he did not like spot news the way I do, he learned to go with the flow.  One day we were in Med­ford on a story when I heard on the scan­ner a child was shot in Lynn. The last place Kirby wanted to go to would be this story but he sucked it up and did a great job.

Another time when we were look­ing for some­thing to cover we ended up in Revere for sev­eral hours as an armed man was bar­ri­caded behind a door in an apart­ment build­ing.  Those were the days when I knew most of the Revere cops and Kirby and I were on the 3rd floor just out­side of the apart­ment where nego­ti­a­tions went on. My cam­era bat­ter­ies did not last long and Kirby had to keep going down from the third floor to my car and get fresh bat­ter­ies and tapes for me.  He kept a straight face and ended up doing about a 4-minute piece of the inci­dent. In the end Cap­tain Bill Gan­non got onto the man’s apart­ment from an out­side deck by climb­ing from one apart­ment to the next and charg­ing into the apart­ment and cap­tur­ing the man.  The sus­pect had a rifle, which could have taken us all out. The piece sang and was com­pelling from begin­ning to end.

Then there was the time Kirby had kid­ney stones and he researched pro­ce­dures for treat­ment and we found our­selves with him in a tub of water at the MGH get­ting sonic blasts into his body while I filmed it all. Kirby was shy so get­ting in and out on cam­era in his bathing suit was prob­a­bly harder to do then bare the pain of the stones.

He was so shy and when we would be in an ele­va­tor in a build­ing I would go to work and intro­duce him to all the peo­ple in the ele­va­tor. Boy, did he hate that but I loved doing it.

He loved pol­i­tics and espe­cially loved going to Boston City Hall where he cov­ered 3 May­ors of Boston (I have cov­ered 4 as John Collins was still in office when I started).

He used the video of Kevin White run­ning across the Boston Com­mon so often it wore out the emul­sion of the tape.

When Ray Flynn was resign­ing as Mayor to become Ambas­sador to the Vat­i­can he stood on City Hall Plaza and said in his live shot “Elvis has left the build­ing!”  Oh, the bosses did not like that one.Flynn leav­ing office wasn’t a bad thing for his favorite Mayor, Mayor For­ever, Tom Menino, with whom he had a spe­cial rela­tion­ship. Dur­ing one awful win­ter in the early 90s when peo­ple could not get out of their houses or drive down the streets of Boston we did a story on snow plow­ing in the City.  It was the year the Globe com­pared the snow level to a Celtics bas­ket­ball player’s height when mea­sur­ing the inches of snow.  We went to the Mayor’s home area in Readville and Kirby climbed up to the top of at least a 15-foot snow pile and did his stand-up.  We then went to City hall to ask Mayor Menino what grade does the Mayor think he got that win­ter on clear­ing the streets of Boston.  Mayor Menino looked at Kirby and gave his very hum­ble opin­ion, “A minus,” with his great big smile.

In his own words he dared to call Dap­per O’Neil a racist and to call Whacko Hur­ley, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Czar, a Whacko.  Don’t think Dap­per wouldn’t call him out every time he saw him after that, yelling “Hey Perkins” in his very loud obnox­ious voice! Kirby smiled and ignored him.

When I was on my pop­corn binge (one big bag a day) he would occa­sional buy me one just so he could poke fun at me. One day he went into a cof­fee shop to get him­self a bev­er­age and when he came back I had already fin­ished the bag of pop­corn.  He could not believe I could have eaten this bag so quickly so I told him I spilled it by mis­take. He believed me, I think. From then I was known as the pop­corn man to his daugh­ter Alexis.

Deep down, he was really a West Coast hip­pie from the ‘60s. He loved to tell peo­ple how he lived in his Volk­swa­gen bus while going to school at UCLA.  Boy, did he hate snow­storms and cold weather, but he loved the fact that snow­storms meant he could wear his col­lege sweat­shirt. His win­ter gloves came out as soon as the leaves began falling.  Col­ored leaves meant warmer clothes for Kirby.

His father in-law Andy Rooney, a long time holder of New York Giants sea­son tick­ets, would invite Kirby to a game every year and every year Kirby would dread how cold he was going to be. I took him to Hilton’s Tent City where he bought the warmest boots he could find but of course he left them home when he drove down to New York for the game.

He used to carry cash all the time going to the bank on Monday’s and fill­ing his wal­let with what he needed.  You must remem­ber it was already the late 80s and every­one had a debit card to get their cash out of a machine when needed. It took him a while but I showed him what he could do and he no longer needed to cash that check once a week.

He was a great bar­beque man and got me sway from using lighter fluid to start my char­coals and bought me my first “ket­tle” for heat­ing the coals.  He told me he used to throw in dif­fer­ent woods for fla­vor on top of his char­coals and even used to eat his sal­ads after the meal, Euro­pean style.  I never could under­stand that.

Gov­er­nor Mario Cuomo was rumored to be run­ning for Pres­i­dent of the U.S. and Kirby and I got on the road for a three-hour ride to Albany, NY.  We walked in dur­ing the mid­dle of a press con­fer­ence the Gov­er­nor was hold­ing.  Cuomo looked up and Kirby said “We are here from Boston to see if you are going to run for Pres­i­dent!”   Cuomo looked at him and started dis­cussing the Red Sox of which Kirby was a big fan.  All the other reporters just sat and watched.  Cuomo, by the way, did not dis­cuss any­thing doing with run­ning for Pres­i­dent.  Kirby could talk to any­one intelligently.

A Red Sox fan he was and he loved Mo Vaughn.  He was his favorite, knew all of his sta­tis­tics and the sta­tis­tics of most of every­one else on the team.  He used to bet his col­league Jack Harper who was a big Bal­ti­more fan every year on some­thing to do with the two teams.

Kirby and Me, mid 1990s.

We had this gig called “Car Five,” it was about Kirby let­ting me drive where I wanted, lis­ten to the radios and Kirby look­ing for inter­est­ing stuff.  We were on Dud­ley Street in Rox­bury when he saw an apart­ment com­plex with sneak­ers hang­ing from the power lines. Next thing I know we were out of the car talk­ing with the neigh­bors, mak­ing a great story. Shortly after the story, the City cleaned up their junk­yard back yard and we were off to the next one.

Another day he sees a hut in Dorch­ester and this man half clothed sort of drunk and the con­ver­sa­tion begins. Another great story, another Car Five in the books.

Our best one though was Mrs. Penta.  We took one of our many rides to my old haunts in Revere.  We were dri­ving around my old neigh­bor­hood and I see this woman, Mrs. Penta.  Kirby says “stop the car” and the con­ver­sa­tion begins. We walked around the neigh­bor­hood with her, came back to her house on another day and then we did this out­stand­ing piece of where I grew up and what the neigh­bor­hood had become. It was everyone’s favorite Car Five.

We had a rhythm the way we worked. He had the mic in his hand and I could just cir­cle him with the cam­era. I knew what he wanted and he knew what I was going to do. It was like magic and he took what­ever I shot it made it won­der­ful TV.  No mat­ter whom he worked with he never com­plained about the video. He would just get into the edit­ing booth and make it come together.  His ego if he had one never got in the way.

Kirby loved to use com­pelling video mul­ti­ple times in a story. If it was good he might use it two, even three times, some­thing you don’t see any­more.  He told me when he was in an edit­ing booth he wanted to grab the audio pot away from the edi­tor and blast the video so when it came into people’s homes and there was impor­tant sound their TVs would vibrate.

He tried to help me with my Eng­lish and my eat­ing habits. Some­times the Eng­lish lessons worked. He told me his father in-law Andy Rooney and I had one thing in com­mon; we both ate fast.  He would lec­ture me on eat­ing slower so I would not be as hun­gry and I could lose weight. I am still try­ing both and los­ing the battle.

When he and the fam­ily moved to Con­necti­cut he began liv­ing at Susan Wornick’s house sev­eral days dur­ing the week. He would not have her do his laun­dry so he brought it to a Laun­dro­mat near the sta­tion.  Every so often he would call me and say “I can­not get there to take it out of the dryer.” So there I was grab­bing his dried clothes for him to wear.

When his mother was in a nurs­ing home late in her life Kirby would call her every­day, tell her how much he loved her. I loved hear­ing the conversation.

He loved doing home­work with is daugh­ter Alexis and hav­ing a bar­beque din­ner ready for Emily when she got home from work.

He was really about dis­cov­ery, thus the A+ series was born. He loved going into schools and shar­ing the sto­ries of high school seniors, who achieved in the midst of adver­sity. He brought out the best in them and they made him feel good about what he was doing. He would have been a great teacher and it is fit­ting that the A+ Schol­ar­ship Fund is his legacy.

The day he died, I had seen him as he was leav­ing work for another ten­nis match at a tour­na­ment he was in. He told me he was doing great and would be play­ing in a final.

The next morn­ing I was walk­ing my dogs on West Beach in Bev­erly and as usual car­ry­ing my two-way radio when my col­league War­ren Doolin called me around 6am to tell me Kirby might be mor­tally ill.  I went to the hos­pi­tal to see him.  He was lying on the bed on life sup­port. Emily talked to him and told him his friend Stan­ley was here to see him and, unfor­tu­nately, there was no response we could see.  I can only hope he got the message.

His father died when he was around 14 and his daugh­ter Lexie was 14 when he died.

At his memo­r­ial, his mother in-law Marge said when Emily took him home for the first time she had never seen such a beau­ti­ful spec­i­men of a man and not to let him get a way.

He was a won­der­ful man, friend, artic­u­late, hand­some, lov­ing and never too big for his britches.  He got me and I miss him and he will always be a part of my memories.

I loved that man.

A Note From Kirby’s Wife, Emily Rooney, who is host/executive edi­tor of Greater Boston, WGBH-TV.

Kirby started A+ in the mid 90’s as a way of rec­og­niz­ing kids who over­came extreme odds to excel aca­d­e­m­i­cally. While Kirby con­sid­ered him­self to be a “jock” he believed too much empha­sis and credit was lav­ished upon kids who per­form well in ath­let­ics as opposed to the class­room. It means a great deal to me that the schol­ar­ship was started and con­tin­ues in his name now 15 years after his death.  The kids are inspir­ing and I owe a debt of grat­i­tude to all the CH5 peo­ple who have worked on this fea­ture, espe­cially David Brown.

To read more about The Kirby Perkins A+ Schol­ar­ship Fund please visit the web­site below:

http://www.wcvb.com/community/aplus

A note from Mayor Thomas Menino:

State­ment of Mayor Thomas M. Menino

Kirby Perkins A Plus Schol­ar­ship Fund Event

Novem­ber 13, 2012

I want to thank all of the fam­ily and friends of the late Kirby Perkins for gath­er­ing tonight to sup­port the schol­ar­ship fund that bears his name.  In par­tic­u­lar I want to thanks Emily Rooney and the entire Schol­ar­ship Com­mit­tee for the good work you have already done award­ing over 186 thou­sand dol­lars among 74 stu­dents since 1998.  And thank you to Bill Fine and WCVB for host­ing this event tonight and pro­mot­ing the A Plus Schol­ar­ship and the stu­dent recip­i­ents on air.

Kirby was much more than a first class reporter; he was one of my clos­est friends.  He loved pol­i­tics just like I do.  He was a “peo­ple per­son” much like I am.  And his skills with email were the same as mine: nonexistent.

Seri­ously though, Kirby gave me some very good advice early on in my career.   He told me to take the issues seri­ously, but not to take myself all that seri­ously.  He told me that self-deprecation was often the best response for many sit­u­a­tions espe­cially at the St. Patrick’s Day break­fast.  And he was right, on this and so much more.

I’m sure you all could tell sim­i­lar sto­ries of how Kirby helped you.  Kirby meant so much to all of you and so much to this city.  That is why we must build up the Kirby Perkins A Plus Schol­ar­ship Fund.  So it can con­tinue to help young peo­ple obtain that all impor­tant col­lege degree, and so our city and the peo­ple liv­ing here always know what a spe­cial per­son Kirby was.

I thank you all for your gen­er­ous con­tri­bu­tions so far.  But I ask you to dig a lit­tle deeper and to go a lit­tle fur­ther.  That is what Kirby would have done for any of us, so let’s all do it for the schol­ar­ship that hon­ors his legacy.

 

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/121

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!

 

23Aug/120

In Between the Big Stories: Crazy Things Happen When You’re Cruising Around Chapter One

Civil War Mon­u­ment top­pled in van­dal­ism. Mon­u­ment was erected in 1908 and restored in 2002.

A cou­ple of weeks ago on my way into Boston to begin my shift I received a call from a source telling me some­where in the City there was ceme­tery van­dal­ism. The source knew the names of two streets but he was not sure of which cemetery.

He gave me the names of Birch & Fairview Streets in Police Dis­trict Five and since I used to live nearby just out­side of Roslin­dale Square I thought it was going to be easy to find.  Prob­lem was I could not find any police look­ing around and the only ceme­tery I knew of was in the Peter’s Hill sec­tion of the Arnold Arbore­tum. It as an old ceme­tery not used any­more but I drove where I should not have and checked it out.  There was noth­ing there and BPD Info Ser­vices had not got­ten any paper­work on it so I moved on to other assignments.

Here is where things get funny in what I do. I was sent to the Readville sec­tion of Boston to cover a story about the unau­tho­rized use of a City fire hydrant to fill a pool with water.  I was with reporter Rhon­della Richard­son and we were not hav­ing much luck in advanc­ing the story.   As we were leav­ing the area I noticed a ceme­tery and the sign on it read “Fairview Ceme­tery.” BINGO, this must be the place I was look­ing for sev­eral hours ear­lier. We drove through the ceme­tery till I saw one of the main­te­nance men and I asked if there had been any van­dal­ism. He pointed me up a hill and said you can­not miss it.

He was cor­rect, there was a mon­u­ment orig­i­nally erected in 1908 to com­mem­o­rate the local heroes of the Civil War.  It was a beau­ti­ful piece of bronze, which the van­dals had knocked off its pedestal. The story itself is com­mon nowa­days but either way it was a ter­ri­ble abuse of an his­tor­i­cal monument.

Then last week I was vis­it­ing the Mar­ket Bas­ket in Chelsea, MA., a local super­mar­ket and as I was leav­ing (with an unneeded desert) there was this young boy prob­a­bly around three, going out the elec­tronic doors almost get­ting into the park­ing lot traf­fic. I looked around, yelled out who belongs to this kid and got no response.

I really did not know what to do. I was afraid to go up and grab the kid think­ing some par­ent would see me near him and you know what hap­pens next.  From about 15 feet I called the kid and told him to fol­low me.  He obvi­ously knew to stay away from strangers and I knew to stay away from him. I sort of coaxed him into the front of the store sig­nal­ing for a front end atten­dant from the store to come over.

A very nice young man took the kid by the hand to take him to the cour­tesy desk. On the way there a worker looked around and was able to spot what appeared to be his grand­mother who had real­ized after at least 5 min­utes she was miss­ing her grand­son. All ended up okay as she grabbed him by the arm and pulled him to her.  I think he got the message.

Then Fri­day, same week I went to Malden, MA on a call about mul­ti­ple bee stings. I was think­ing if mul­ti­ple peo­ple were stung it could be a story. I got there about 20 min­utes later.  The Cataldo Ambu­lance was parked and I saw the two med­ical peo­ple from the ambu­lance walk­ing around the forested park and I thought they were still look­ing for victims.

Then I noticed a young boy prob­a­bly ten or so sit­ting on the grass near the ambu­lance, hold­ing a dog and cry­ing his eyes out. I thought he was just hurt­ing from the stings. There was an adult watch­ing over him and I asked him if he was alright and all he could say is his other dog was lost, beg­ging us to please find his dog, between awful sobs. It brought tears to my eyes as I know what it is like to be miss­ing a pet.

He described the dog to me, a medium sized brown and white dog sort of like the one he was hold­ing onto but dif­fer­ent color and a lit­tle big­ger.  I started dri­ving around and when I got to the com­plete oppo­site side of the park I saw three peo­ple hold­ing on to a brown and white dog. I was so excited, got out of the car and asked if they just found it.

The nicest woman told me she found the scared and bee stung dog, called the local PD and got no help. I told her the lit­tle boy who lost it was up the other end and I raced back to get him.  They were so happy and I brought one of the broth­ers back with me to get the dog. In the mean­time the boys’ mother showed up, very upset and when she real­ized all was well she just walked around thank­ing every­one who helped.

It was a nice end­ing to a story that could have ended very dif­fer­ent.  Crazy things when you are cruis­ing around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

11Mar/124

For All The Dogs And Cats And Birds And Rats I Used To Know

Abby, Glossy, Hobo around 1982. Arnold Arboretum.

Each morn­ing as I watch my 13-year-old dog Lily fad­ing into the next phase of life I can only hope she will make it easy on me in the end. She is suf­fer­ing from demen­tia. Yea, you think only humans have demen­tia, well you are incor­rect. She is eat­ing well and tak­ing her busi­ness out­side. It is her fogged, con­fused look, which is very painful to see.

 I have always had a dog. Grow­ing up we had our first fam­ily dog, Peachy, (imag­ine giv­ing a pet that name now) a Fox Ter­rier. We bought her at Puppy Haven, a dog mill on Route One in Saugus. Funny thing, it was located about fifty feet from where Hooter’s now stands.

She was a great dog, only bit me once, then my father bit her. She never bit any­one again. She was also my best friend who died when I was about 13. One day we were all sit­ting on the front porch and I saw a rodent walk­ing across the street.  Peachy was off and run­ning. Lit­tle did I know it was a rat? Peachy knew and prac­ti­cally jumped over a four-foot chain link fence to grab it, snap it up and down, till my father was able to cor­ral our dog and take her home. I was always told that ter­ri­ers were tough and she proved it.

Our rat project!

When my daugh­ter Molly was in ele­men­tary school we ended up with two white rats from her school project. Our pets only got to drool over them as they watched them in our rat aquar­ium. It was lots of fun hold­ing them to clean their cage, ugh.

After that we had a Cocker Spaniel we called Sparky. He was crazy and kept tak­ing off or should we say run­ning away. Sparky had an ID on him so we would always go and retrieve him. He always ended up with fam­i­lies with kids. The last time he ran away my father saw how happy he was with a house full of kids.  He went home, got Sparky’s bowl and dog food and said good-bye.

My next dog as a kid was Tammy, a Wire­hair Ter­rier. What a great dog she was. She lived till I was in my late 20s. Once again my father had to take our dog to our vet Dr. Barry to take her out of her misery.

In 1975 I got my first dog as an adult. I had seen an old friend, Michael Weis­berg walk­ing a lit­ter of Golden Retriev­ers on Revere Beach. I asked him about them and three months later I picked her up dur­ing the long Thanks­giv­ing week­end. What fun! When I went to bed that night I looked down at her lying next to my bed and told her when she is ten, I will be 40.

I named her Glossy (like in pic­tures) and with­out her I would never have met my won­der­ful wife Deb­bie. I used to take Glossy to the Arnold Arbore­tum in Jamaica Plain every morn­ing. Glossy was a very smart dog and fell in love with a puppy named Abby. Lucky for me at the other end of the leash was Deb­bie. Now I am at the other end of her leash. What a find Glossy made.

Glossy and Abby around 1983, Arnold Arboretum.

We had to put up a kid’s gate to keep these two large dogs from sleep­ing in the bed with us. The day we took Glossy to the vet for her last visit we were so sad we went out and bought a new car. What the heck, we were sad, no kids and two jobs, why not soften the pain?

32 years and many pets later we still have too many pets. At one time we had four dogs, Abby, Glossy, Hobo and Candy. Hobo arrived at my door one fall after­noon and I could not shoo him away. About 4:30 that after­noon I got a call from some­one at the Her­ald where I was work­ing, telling me I had hit the bookie for $4730.00 on the daily number.

I went out­side to see if that dog was still there, picked him up in my arms and gave him a big hug. Next day we went to the vet, found out he had heart­worm. I gave the Vet a bunch of 50-dollar bills and asked Dr. Duka to try and cure him. He would and the won­der­ful dog we named Hobo was with us for many years.

The only prob­lem with Hobo is when we had babies and they moved too fast he would attack, not bite but grab their pant legs or what­ever they had on, it was like a dog chas­ing a car. He hated the baby walker as Molly used to buzz around the house with Hobo chas­ing after her.

When were able to keep the kids in a playpen Molly would share her bot­tle of milk with him. She hung the bot­tle out for him and he would grab onto the nip­ple, the same one she was drink­ing from. If we ever told any­one about that we prob­a­bly would have been charged with child endangerment.

Molly’s first bot­tle at home with Candy not let­ting go of her prime position.

Then there was Candy, a Toy Poo­dle, who we got from my sis­ter Renee after she moved into a com­plex that did not allow pets. Candy was 8 years old but lived till she was almost 17. Before kids Candy was Debbie’s baby. She would bark till Deb­bie car­ried her around in her arms. We owned a two fam­ily house at that time; both of us worked and one day our ten­ant said, “what are you going to do to keep that dog quiet?” I said, “noth­ing, we own the house,” and sug­gested they bring her to their apart­ment dur­ing the day.

Even­tu­ally I had put all four of them to “sleep,” in a 15-year span. My good friend Nat Whit­te­more once told me to bury your dog in your heart and get another one. We never have to rush to get another one, as we always seem to have mul­ti­ple dogs.

Vanilla, Molly and Lewis, Han­nah and Lily around 2000.

Another day my mother in-law Bar­bara told us about a beau­ti­ful Stan­dard Poo­dle named Vanilla, who needed a new home. What a hand­some, smart dog. He loved the kids and us but devel­oped a bad skin infec­tion. So there I was bathing him in the bath­tub at least twice a week.

Before that we adopted Cindy, a Grey­hound, who could not catch the rab­bit at the race­track so instead she caught us at a weak moment. Sort of a nice dog, very fast, not exactly a lap dog. She also had ter­ri­ble breath and we had to remove some of her rot­ted teeth. So Vanilla had a smelly body and Cindy had bad breath, no won­der other dogs did not want to play with us.

Lewis try­ing to get to Twinkie.

Some­where in between cats and dogs my father got a para­keet. My father was sickly and wanted to make sure my mother had com­pany after he passed on. His favorite desert was Twinkies (they are about to be gone also) thus she was named Twinkie. After my father died my mother gave us Twinkie. What­ever cats we had at that time lusted after Twinkie as did the dogs.

One day on my way to work Deb­bie called me to tell me Twinkie was gone, lying on the bot­tom of the cage. I raced home, grabbed her, a shovel and went out to the back­yard. It took at least two weeks before either of the girls asked where Twinkie was.

Sable, Molly and Han­nah around 1990, in Marblehead.

I had seen a Shar Pei on the TV pro­gram NYPD Blue and fell in love with their wrin­kles. I had hit the num­ber again; actu­ally I hit it three times that week, no not for a lot of money about $600.00 so the search was on. Many calls later I ended up at the south­ern tip of Rhode Island to bring home Sable. I brought her home and we put up a gate to keep her away from our babies. First night over the gate she goes to get to the kids. No prob­lem she was just another baby girl in our house.

When Molly was six she con­vinced us to get a cat. The deal was if she would stop suck­ing her thumb for a month we would bring a cat into the house. His name was Jessie, (now called Lewis). Great first cat, had very lit­tle to do with us till we brought our sec­ond cat Pump­kin home.

Pump­kin knew about affec­tion and Lewis learned from her. But of course Pump­kin never came out of our bed­rooms as Vanilla cor­nered her one-day while try­ing to play and scared the heck out of her. When­ever she would hear the dogs bark she would hide under a bed. She usu­ally slept with us, nuz­zled against Debbie’s neck.

Some­time after Sable and Cindy were gone we all made our way back to Rhode Island to get another Shar Pei, our Lily. Lily liked to chase cats although now she doesn’t chase much of any­thing any­more. But it was con­stant effort to get her to leave them alone. Now that she has slowed down the cats like her

In another weak moment after Vanilla was gone we got Jack. Jack is a Golden Doo­dle, who loves every­one. Plays with the cats, used to wres­tle with Lily every morn­ing after break­fast and walks with me everyday.

Last year we lost Pump­kin. We woke up one morn­ing and she could not get her head out of the water bowl, almost drown­ing. She had some kind of major body fail­ure and once again I had to stand there and hold a pet while she was put to sleep.

Our dom­i­nant cat Sophie or as I like to call her Mean Sophie!

Don’t worry we replaced her with two kit­tens who were not used to dogs or other cats. They were res­cued from two dif­fer­ent loca­tions and ended up together at the shel­ter and had to be adopted together. We could not resist. We kept them in the fam­ily room with the doors closed to keep the other ani­mals from them for almost four months. Another rea­son was to keep our dom­i­nant mean cat Sophie from tor­tur­ing them. Oh yea, we got Sophie dur­ing another weak moment.

Chloe wait­ing for breakfast.

The good thing about Zoe and Chloe is our daugh­ter Han­nah is going to take them once she gets an apart­ment where she can have pets. Of course she will have to ask the cats if they want to go. Zoe and Chloe are still very shy although Zoe fol­lows me every­where and Chloe runs when­ever she sees me. Lately she is let­ting me pat her but that is when I am going to feed her.

If there were a nurs­ing home for dogs Lily would be in it. She already lives in assisted liv­ing. Every morn­ing when I get up Jack and the cats greet me. I have to wake Lily up, shake her, and then make sure she watches me so she knows she is going out. She is stone deaf, I am only hard of hear­ing so I sort of know what she is going through. Then she for­gets which way the door opens and is always in the way.

It doesn’t look like a good year for a cou­ple of my pets. Most days I have to mas­sage our 17-year-old cat Lewis’ hips as he drags him­self around the house with his hindquar­ters drag­ging. Then Lilly is a state of con­fu­sion but con­tin­ues to eat and play once she fig­ures out where she is, but the con­fu­sion grows.

Painful to look at our aging pets then look in the mir­ror and real­ize I am aging along with them. No one ever said life was easy!

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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