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


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:





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  1. good stuff as always…so many names I remember…how many fires were there at 5 Winthrop Sq. ?? how many more were never reported to the BFD??.…

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