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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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
After 45 years and hundreds of police confrontations I saw the slogan born in the 60s when the anti Vietnam War protests came to life, only reversed. It was Saturday morning at 5am when Boston Police moved in on the Occupy Boston protestors and the city took back the Dewey Square encampment.
I had gotten credible information Friday, that the police would be moving in and, along with the information the office received, the station covered what we thought was going to happen all night, Friday into Saturday morning.
Thursday the Judge’s order came down telling Mayor Menino and the City of Boston they could do what they wanted as far as removing the protestors from their camp. I stayed at the site till 2am Friday but nothing happened that morning.
I left my house at 2am Saturday morning to position myself at what was to be and spent the next couple of hours trying to stay awake. Sometimes I did but there were those five-minute dozes so I kept setting my alarm for 10 minutes away so I would not sleep through the action.
There was radio silence on the scanners except for two unusual calls around 4:30am. I had an additional advantage when a friend of mine chirped me around the same time to say he saw a group of cops forming at one of their locations. I was standing on the corner of Summer Street and Atlantic Avenue looking up Summer Street towards South Boston, I saw a Boston Cop down the next block appearing to be ready to direct traffic.
Then the lights started to come over the horizon, hundreds of lights and I did see one blue light, which was probably the error of whoever turned it on. There were more headlights and even more as the parade of vehicles just kept extending. I got on the phone with the office and spoke to Lawrence Crook on the assignment desk to tell him the police were coming. I heard Gerry Wardwell in the background telling whomever to launch the helicopter. It was exciting and of course, nerve wracking since the group was still a block or so away. I hoped I was correct.
When they arrived they were mostly in econo van type vehicles, scores of them. Nothing like I was used to from the 60s and 70s when the TPF (Tactical Police Force) would roll in with their blue lights blazing, sirens screaming, horses clipperty clopping and motorcycles roaring, plus they had a converted school bus painted BPD colors with a small sign in the window calling it the “War Wagon”.
This was well organized, cops getting out of their vehicles encircling the camp and the Special Operations team wearing their black fatigues. The only armor they had on them was multiple plastic ties, which would be used as handcuffs.
The Occupy protestors who were awake sounded the alarm, running through the encampment screaming “Get up, get up, they are fucking here, wake the fuck up!” It was the modern day version of Paul Revere and William Dawes’ ride to warn the Patriots the British were coming. I recorded it all and got myself in a position where I could escape the corralling of the media as most were kept in one place, which gave everyone some access and but also kept us out of the way of the operation.
The containing of the media was not to hide anything. They needed to able to keep us from roaming freely or we could have compromised the operation. I was able to escape the stockyard corral and wandered freely for the first few minutes. I followed the Special Operations group as they tipped over tents and sliced some of them up. Before each search and destroy mission the officers made sure there was no one in the tents, yelling and looking in to make sure they were empty before completing their final mission.
At the beginning of the operation I was inside the encampment as Captain Bernie O’Rourke, Superintendent William Evans and Superintendent Dan Linskey used bullhorns to tell all the protestors what was going to happen, giving them all time to leave. The protestors could pick up some of their belongings and not be arrested. The police were almost begging them to leave and being polite beyond belief. During the 60s, if you were in the way it did not matter if you were a protestor or a camera carrying media person, if you were in the way you had to go. Many times back then you either left within the first few minutes on your own or you left in the wagon, and the arrest process was anything but gentle.
When the police finally started making arrests we were all pushed back. The paddy wagons were used to transport the arrested and when they backed in we lost our view. I spoke to Jamie Keneally, one of the BPD spokesmen working with us, and asked about a pool photographer for the arrests. He spoke to Superintendent Linskey and the next thing I knew I was in amongst the cops and Occupy People as they were handcuffed and placed in the wagon.
When a few of the protestors locked arms the cops very gently pulled them apart. I watched Lt. Bob Merner (a cop who loves what he does) separate them and make sure no one was hurt. To the end they were giving a chance to leave and not be arrested. I heard both Linskey and Evans trying to convince some of them they could just walk away and not get cuffed and arrested. For the police it was like “making love not war.”
Wow, this whole operation was so exciting, I got to do three phone interviews during our morning show. Ed Harding, the anchor, asked me a couple of questions and let me talk about what I had seen. I have decided if there is ever an opening for “Nursing Home News” I will be a candidate. I’d be perfect; an older, overweight, practically bald, shrinking anchor. All they will have to do is find some clothes for me to wear besides the jeans and sweatshirts I own now.
After 45 years of chasing news professionally I realize I cannot be the first on the scene with a camera unless I am the first one on the scene. Everyone is ready to capture the moment happening in front of them.It started about midnight last night when in the background as I was sort of sleeping I heard someone on my scanners say, “fully involved.” I had not a clue who it was and as quickly as I turned over to see the scanner display, the channel changed and without my reading glasses on I could not have seen it anyway.
Seconds later my Nextel chirped from a scanner buffs call to tell me about a serious accident in Lynn MA. I was up getting dressed when I got my 2nd call this time on the home phone. There was also a voice mail from a friend who on sighted the accident. When I got to the scene of the horrific accident I noticed there was plenty of access visually to the two car accident with one car totaled including having been fully involved in fire and the other which had 5 people in it pretty much crushed from the impact. It was the car with the five people in it, which struck the first car. The car, which was struck, burst into flames, the driver got out of the car aglow with the fire engulfing him.
First thing I noticed was all the people with their cell phones working the scene. I knew right away to get what I could of the aftermath then start the search for someone who had some good visuals. I was across the street from the damaged cars when this young fellow found me and told me about his video, the car fully involved in flame and the driver running around on fire. I looked at the video and said my station would like to purchase it. He was all excited and the arrangements were made for him to email in the video. Usually the video or stills I find are “good enough” for use on websites and even to be broadcast on a news report.
The problem was and is as a long time news photographer I cannot beat the competition anymore. The competition is anyone who has a cell phone, smart phone or any other portable device, which takes stills or video. The other problem being practically everyone has the technology and knows what to do with it. Of course there is my brother in-law and uncle who have not a clue of how to work their phones other than to say hello. The current news person not only has to get to a scene, sum up what is needed to cover the story then search for the person with the best images they can get for their news organization or social media network.
This is the link to the images and video captured at the scene and aired by WCVB-TV by smart phone user Stephen Socci.
I do well on the search for the best stuff available as my station sort of allows me to make offers to the owner of these images with a financial reward. Not only do I try to get there first I have to be first in gathering other people’s stuff. The most important words in what we do with instant media is “right now” and I plan to be all over it.
Many years ago during a holiday dinner with a family friend the host, David Estes kept talking to me about how wonderful it was to be published. I had never given it any thought. I was published everyday and took it for granted. So the bottom line here is everyone is a news photographer whether they really are a news photographer. So if you are a “real” news photographer get to the incident, size it up and make sure you shoot the best aftermath, as that is all that is going to be left most times.
Back in the late 70s I covered an MIT Commencement where Lee Iacocca spoke and his last words were “graduates, start your engines.”
As the great news photographer Nat Whittemore once told me when I switched to TV, “dazzle them with your footwork.”
In the new world of news I say, “good enough video gets published and the professional news photographers must see what others don’t see and make theirs more compelling.”
FYI, when I asked my daughter Molly if she had read this blog her answer was “do you mean the one where you whine about people and their iPhone photos?”
43 plus years later I received two emails about a photo I took in 1968. Probably my favorite welcome home photo. It was before huge gates rolled to the planes or the plane came to the terminal to unload its passengers. It was when you could stand on the tarmac and it could be bitter cold but the warmth of watching what was happening in front of you warmed you up better than a hot tub.
Hi Stanley, No you don’t know me but I am the wife of the soldier you photographed back in 1968 at Logan Airport. “Welcome Home My Son” was the caption that made the front page of the Record American. Just want to say Thank You for the memories!! Although the newspaper is quite old we still show it to our grandkids all the time. You we’re one hell of a guy then and I’m sure you still are. Thank You and God bless you. Donna Lovetere
Hi Stanley, my name is Tom Lovetere and I just wanted to let you know that I am one of the stories you wrote about and photographed that had a happy ending. I am the soldier that you were allowed out on the tarmac at Logan on March 6th 1968.That was one of the happiest times of my life to see my mother and my seven brothers waiting for me. I couldn’t wait to wrap my arms around her so she would finally know that her youngest son, her baby was all right and finally home. My mom cherished that photo and the memory you gave her for the rest of her life. She received many phone calls and letters for years after from veterans and families of veterans from all wars about that photo and the look on her face. I still have some of the old newspapers but they are falling apart from the years gone by. My mom passed away 26 years ago but I will always remember the joy you brought her from your photos.
The East Boston family had called the Record American city desk to tell us the family would be there to welcome Tom’s arrival from Vietnam and back during that conflict not all of the home comings were of a happy nature. For 45 years I have covered some very joyous homecomings and then there are the others. From watching tears of joy to just watching tears of pain. This is one of my better ones and these emails make the memories of that day even better.
Gasoline tankers, terrible danger, deafening explosions and many times tragic deaths. As I review the many I have covered, seven at today’s count. I know of two which resulted in a death or severe injury. The worst one being my first big story in 1966, a month after I began at the Record American (referenced in a another blog on this site “my first major tradgedy, 8 DOA”) and now this one on July 23, 2011.
My first call for the incident came from my friend Alan who is a freelance photographer for the Lynn Item. He is up all night listening to the scanners. While mine are running the problem is with our room air conditioner on and my hard of hearing ears I was having a problem hearing the radios which are running next to my side of the bed the extra help is needed. Thankfully I get it.
Alan said a tractor trailer flipped over in either Saugus or Revere as both police departments were yakking about it. He said they were saying Essex Street. I immediately knew in my dazed state of wakeup it was Essex Street in Saugus. I thought he meant a large tractor trailer and the saddle tanks had caught fire not realizing for a minute or two it was a gasoline tanker.
I got up slid down the pole (only kidding) got dressed quickly (my clothes and equipment are always ready) but at my age I have to make a pit stop before I get going and then I have this thing about brushing my teeth so that took another minute. Unless my destination is within a couple of minutes of my house and the extra minute or two is going to be too costly I stop for these chores.
I made great time getting there, no real traffic and knowing the area of Route One and listening to the radios I thought I could sneak around the road blocks through the Square One Mall parking lot and it worked. I also knew the police would not have all their resources in place to block off everything so soon. A few minutes later I might have had problems getting as close as I did.
So there it was, a tanker on its side, flames shooting 60 plus feet in the air and explosive thunder from the ignitions of the fuel taking place, great TV which was the only thing I was thinking about not knowing at this time a life has been lost and another person severely burned. That knowledge would put a damper on the excitement I was enjoying as I had kicked butt with my images.
I was standing in the southbound lane of Route One and the truck was less than 30–40 yards in front of me. I wished once again I had brought my tripod but carrying my still camera, a 22 pound plus video camera, two phones, extra batteries was enough. It was sweltering out there from the summer temperatures, with the humidity very high and add to that the heat from the fire; the tripod stays in the car. There was also the thought of additional explosions and having to run for cover. Less is better sometimes. Yes I am second guessing myself because the tripod would have meant steadier video but when the competition is far behind it doesn’t really matter. I envy those who can carry everything.
After spending a long time on the southbound side I ventured over to another angle closer to the tanker. I was concerned if I left where I was I might lose the great spot I had but I needed other angles. The funny part of this is I kept hearing explosions but the shots I was making of the burning fuel did not show any big blasts. I realized these explosions were taking place about 1500 to 2000 feet behind the fire well into the residential areas of Saugus where a house and other structures caught fire after the fuel floated down an adjacent stream.
After getting these shots I walked back to my original location saw a ranking trooper and asked if I could go north in the south and then go south in the north lanes as I needed to be on the other side. I was told “Stanley you have been around long enough, be careful and if you get stopped tell them I said it was okay.” I got to the other side and began trudging up and down the ramp complex to get what I needed. During all of this I was putting the video camera down and capturing great still images with my digital camera. I guess I don’t know how to use my IPhone camera as I could not get a really good shot of the fire with it or maybe the shutter of the IPhone is too slow to stop the action?
I did what I had to do, left the scene, drove to Revere where I could feed my video(I have a microwave transmitter in my company vehicle but I need line of site for a couple of receive sites in Boston and or Needham) for the Eye Opener show. In the meantime the office had sent a reporter, John Atwater, a satellite truck and two more photographers; it was like we struck a third alarm while the fire department struck 8 alarms. We kicked butt, live on the highway throughout our show and we had the video to back up the talk. We were walking the walk and talking the talk.
I reflected the rest of the day about the other tanker fires I have covered in my 45 years as a news photographer. The first one I covered was about 40 plus years earlier and less than a mile from where we were. It was also northbound on Route One and I remember the fire fighters chasing rolling streams of burning gasoline down the highway but I don’t remember any structures burning or injuries.
Another one was on route 93 northbound in the Reading area in 1978. I was wearing a walking cast after surgery for an Achilles tendon rupture. I had a plastic material boot on it to protect it from water and there I was on the highway dodging burning gasoline and water so my plaster cast would not melt.
In Methuen one weekend morning a tanker blew up at a neighborhood gas station but his time the gasoline was contained in a blown-up piece of the tanker burning as if it was in a barbeque pit. After the initial explosion it just burned straight up for a couple of hours. For the most part the fire department protected the exposures and let it burn itself out.
A couple of years ago I got a call on a Saturday morning from Matt Wilder the morning producer who heard the explosion outside of the Channel Five Studios in Needham, on Route 128/95. He looked out the window, saw the large loom up and called me. How frustrating it was as I knew no matter how fast I could get there it would not be fast enough as 40 miles can only be covered in no less than 30 plus minutes. As I was circling 128, watching the large funnel cloud of smoke and I knew when I got there it would be dissipated. When I did finally get there I was directed off the exit ramp. I walked down a parallel street, followed the hose lines and eventually talked my way onto the highway. It ended up being okay as I was the only one who was able to talk to the lucky uninjured driver about what happened.
I think the biggest story of a tanker rollover and explosion was the one in Everett a couple of winters ago. I was lying in bed wide awake around 3AM and heard a trooper call in saying a tanker had just exploded at the route 99 overpass/rotary in Everett. This location overlooked an elderly residential apartment building and houses.
I had to pass the scene I was at Saturday to get to this inferno. Down Route One straight up Route 99 wondering where the roadblocks would be hoping it was close enough to the scene to be able to do my job. I was able to work my way around several obstacles, ran through the snow covered streets. My video showed what a great job the cops and firefighters were doing to help residents evacuate their homes. There was one funny happening as Everett Police were helping the elderly from their residence, pushing wheelchairs and trying to keep everyone calm one woman said to me “this reminds me of the war years in London when I used to be taken to a shelter when the bombings started.” I asked her “when was the last time she had been up this late” and she smiled at me.
Below are links to great stories and photos done for my station WCVB-TV,
After working news for the last 45 years and covering all too many funerals at the beautiful Cathedral of The Holy Cross Church in Boston’s South End, I really got to see the full splendor of it recently attending my nephew’s wedding.
I knew it was going to be fun when Aunt Kit said to me on the way into the ceremony she will follow my lead as to when to stand-up and when to kneel. I looked at her and said I doubt that, you better watch what everyone else does like me as I am also not a Catholic.
The night even got better when we found metered parking spaces outside one of the most beautiful wedding receptions I had ever been to at the Copley Fairmount, even if I had to wait till 6:pm for the meters to no longer be active.
Father William Russell (no, not the basketball player) delivered the homily for the wedding ceremony which brought smiles and laughter to all of us. After we left the church I went up to him and told him what a great (I had to ask him what they called that part of the ceremony and he even spelled it out for me) homilies he delivered. When I told him I would be blogging about this event and asked for his email address so I could forward it to him his response was “I don’t even know how to turn a computer on,” lucky him.
His homilies had some great quotes regarding how the 29 year old bride had been able to stay single so long and said; “If I had been a younger man and in a different line of work Laura would have been spoken for already but I think Christopher (the groom) was well worth the wait.”
Then he said marriage is about compromise not always 50/50, sometimes 90/10 as he told stories about his parents. His father loved to watch Sunday football on TV. His mother, knowing this, put a Cross on top of the TV to remind him to lift his eyes to God at least on the commercials and he left it there to appease her.
He then told us how after dinner every night he and his five sibling brothers were sent out of the room and the doors would shut while his mother and father would discuss their day. The boys would stand at the crack of the door trying to listen to their conversation. One that he always remembers was when his mother said to his father “why don’t you say you love me?” His father answered “I do.” She asked “do what” and he answered “what you just asked me.” This went back and forth several times till he said the words “I love you,” which made his mother very happy. Everything Father Russell said was warm, fuzzy and brought a warm feeling to the bride and groom along with the guests.
I have listened to and covered Cardinals giving memorial masses, beautiful Christmas ceremonies and even Cardinal’s wakes. But the homilies I heard from Father Bill Russell made the church seem all the more beautiful.
On our way to the church which I had not been in for many years, I repeatedly told my girls how I had seen Richard Cardinal Cushing’s hat raised to the rafters for his funeral celebration in 1970. The Cardinal’s dying was huge in Boston as he was loved by all. Well maybe not all as some of the veteran reporters who had to cover him were not too pleased sometimes as when dealing with the Cardinal it was his way or the highway.
Sitting there looking at the three cardinals hats (I don’t know who the other two hats belong to which hang from the ceiling over the altar) made me think back to the many times I covered Cardinal Cushing. I always believed he knew I was not a Catholic as I never knelt to kiss the ring on his hand but we did shake hands.
I was at the press conference in the late 60s at his residence on Commonwealth Avenue near Boston College, (who now owns the property) when he announced he had cancer. We all thought there was some kind of illness he was suffering from but until he told us it was a mystery. I was with reporter Ollie Brennan who had himself a Page One story that day. Ollie went on from us to join the Globe as their TV critic.
Thinking about Cardinal Cushing brings back a couple of funny memories. Jack Wharton, a veteran reporter (and one the most wonderful reporters I ever worked with), was told to call “The Cush” and see how he was. He had missed a couple of masses and there was concern about his health. The Cardinal answered the phone and when Jack asked him how he was as many of the paper’s readers had inquired the Cardinal very gruffly said “if my parishioners want to know how I feel tell them to call me themselves!” Next day the Record American printed his phone number with his message.
When Cushing died I spent a lot of time at the Cathedral and watched the nuns sewing the material on to his hat so it could be raised to the rafters. I watched it being put in place (haven’t located the negatives yet). The wake lasted a couple of days and photographer Gene Dixon had the day shift of sitting in a pew waiting for photo opportunities.
He came back with two great stories. The Cardinal had a huge ring or two on his fingers and some of the people kept touching and pulling them. Gene thought some of these people wanted to steal the ring off his fingers. Officials ended up sewing his arm sleeve to his jacket so his hand could not be raised. The other story was Gene had his two-way radio on and it started to squawk loudly, so loudly Gene said “I thought he was going to jump out if the box!” Who knows how true these stories are but they certainly bring a smile to my face.
At his burial in Hanover, Massachusetts at St. Collette’s School colleague Mike Andersen squeezed himself right next to the gravesite and had a very moving photo of the casket being lowered into the ground.
The Cardinals replacement was Archbishop Humberto Medeiros, who arrived from Brownsville Texas to Logan Airport. He was escorted through the throngs of media by Boston police and lead cop was the same cop who led the Boston Bruins onto the ice at Boston Garden for every game back in that era. He was a big friendly guy but this day he had in his hands a large rectangular object like a 16/20 print to keep us back. It worked as we only got just so close but with a great view for our photos.
Medeiros became Cardinal Medeiros during his time in Boston and on a Saturday in September of 1983 I covered his death. On that Saturday, Jack Harper and I went to Saint Columbkille’s Church which was near Saint Elizabeth’s hospital to cover the goings on.
We all covered his funeral and I was sent to Fall River his hometown for the burial. He was loved in Fall River and through it all his family was as gracious as he was.
Then came Archbishop Bernard Francis Law who knew how to play to the media. He arrived shortly after St. Ambrose Church burned down on Adams Street in Dorchester, January 1983. He went to the Church with a lot of fanfare to help the people grieve over their loss promising to help with the rebuilding of the structure. He played softball with other archdiocese priests against Boston Police. It was called “The Law vs. The Police.” It became an annual event at Town Field in Dorchester. The police usually won.
In 1985 he became a Cardinal. When the Church sex scandal broke in Boston around 2002 he was at the center of it under great criticism of how he handled it or maybe how he did not handle it. I took video of him as he arrived at the court house for his deposition. He was none to happy to see us, and protested our presence. He came up through garage elevators to avoid the media. Advantage us!
That was the last time I saw him in person and then his resignation from the Boston Archdiocese in ‘02. I was told during his St. Ambrose Church visit years earlier he told my good friend and great photographer Stan Grossfeld of the Boston Globe he was going to win a Pulitzer and he was correct as Stan has won two. I did not mind he said that as I already had won a couple.
The Rest of The Story:
My friend and former colleague Mike Andersen updates me on his role with Cardninal Cushing.
To clarify my role in Cardinal Cushing’s funeral: The Cardinal had arranged for a mausoleum to be built on the grounds of St. Coletta’s in Hanover long before his death. The day before the funeral, Chief Photographer Myer Ostroff sent me to Hanover just to see what I could see. I found some workmen putting the finishing touches on the sarcophagus in which his casket would be entombed. I made a picture of them and we used it. The next day the entire staff was assigned to the funeral. Angela’s only job was to shoot Jackie Kennedy. Mine was to get inside the mausoleum and get a picture of the VIPs who would be permitted inside for a private farewell. There were two doors, one in front and one on the side near the back.. The back door was locked and there was a nun guarding the front. I think she had played linebacker at Notre Dame. Every time I made a move for the door, there she was. I brought along prints of the sarcophagus masons and given them each a print. One of them saw my plight and said he’d get me in. So he unlocked the back door and I went in. The only other person inside at that time was the Pilot photographer Phil Stack. He kept waving for me to get out. I just waved back and tucked myself into a corner in front where I hoped I wouldn’t be seen from the door. Fortunately the outside service ended about then and the VIPs, other Cardinals, the Kennedy family and probably others I didn’t know came trooping in. They filled this small building. I had a 20mm lens on a tripod and a long cable release so I could hold the camera way over my head and cover the entire room. Somebody at the office was able to identify most of the people and they ran two of my pictures full-page in the Record. I was the only secular photographer there, so we beat the Globe and Herald-Traveler six ways from Sunday, excuse the pun.
I had had an earlier incident with Cardinal Cushing. I came to Boston in 1969, the year of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Michael Collins, the third astronaut no-one remembers, was from Boston, so Cardinal Cushing was going to conduct a private Mass blessing Collins at Holy Cross Cathedral. I was assigned to cover it. I’m also not Catholic and had never even been in a Catholic Church before. I had also never seen a photographer in my Presbyterian Church. I don’t know if the Presbyterians are too dignified to permit photography or just so boring (we’re known, with good reason, as the “Frozen Chosen”) that no-one wants to take our picture. But other photographers were there, all taking pictures, so I started taking pictures too. I was so wrapped up in what I was doing that I didn’t notice when the others set their cameras down. I was looking through the viewfinder with a telephoto lens and a tight shot of the Cardinal when he glared at me and said, “Stop taking pictures now! This is the HOLY part.”
I was at Fenway Park when the Eagle landed. The PA announcer came on the air between innings to announce that Americans were now safely on the surface of the moon. There was a moment of stunned silence. then loud applause, then someone began to sing. The next thing you knew 30,000 people were singing, spontaneously and a cappella, “God Bless America”. It was the most moving moment I’ve ever witnessed.
More of The Rest Of The Story:
I received a comment which fills in a lot of information on some of my information or lack of it from Attorney James C. Reilly. Mr. Reilly grew up in Newton, went to the University of Rochester and Duke Law. Mr. Reilly practices law in Birmingham, Alabama.
The three galleros hung from the rafters are for Cardinals O’Connell, Cushing and Medieros. William Henry Cardinal O’Connell’s and Richard James Cardinal Cushing’s galleros were presented to them by the Pope, Pius X and John XXIII respectively, as the “red hat” of a cardinal. The gallero was discontinued by Pope Paul VI and the “red hat” now given is the red biretta. Accordingly, Humberto Sousa Cardinal Medieros never received a gallero from the Pope. However, Cardinal O’Malley had a gallero made for Cardinal Medieros so that the tradition of hanging it in the cathedral could continue. The red gallero with 30 tassels is the heraldic device of a cardinal. A green gallero with 20 tassels is the symbol of an Archbishop and a green gallero with 12 tassels is the symbol for a bishop. Other colors and tassel numbers are also used as the heraldic device for priests (Black and 2), Monsignors (variations of black/amaranth, amaranth usually 6) etc.
BTW the picture of Cardinal Cushing does NOT show him “celebrating” Mass — most likely he is presiding, i.e., in attendance in his official capacity, as he is in choir dress and not wearing the chasuble of the priest saying Mass.
Whitey Bulger was captured and I got the call at 2: am to head into the City (Boston) for coverage of the big story. It brought back memories of a confrontation I had with Whitey almost 40 years ago, way before I knew who or what he was.
The Plaza at the Pemberton Square Court House on Beacon Hill was a gated area (still is, but now with a guard shack) and in order to park vehicles on the Plaza to cover a court issue you had to knock on the door leading to the bowels of the building and get whoever was on duty to unlock the gate. It was the same entrance where the prisoners coming for a court appearance were brought and then put in holding cells.
One day about 40 years ago I had to go in and out of the Plaza several times. Each time I knocked on the door looking for the “key person.” The man with the key got pissed off at me as he thought I was bothering him. I was young, strong (I thought), and if nothing else I could take anyone on verbally. We spared back and forth yelling and swearing at each other, he opened and closed the gate and I moved on.
Later that day I called District Attorney Newman Flanagan’s public relations director Dave Rodman. I told him the story and he knew immediately who I was talking about and told me it was Senator William Bulger’s brother Whitey and to let it go.
I did not realize what danger I had been in till 20 years later when I started to know more about Whitey, read he had worked at the Court House and realized who I had had the confrontation with on that particular day. It was a scary thought after reading he had dispatched people for various reasons and I probably gave him good reason that day.
A couple of years ago I was at a book signing event for “The Soiling Of Old Glory” and Billy Bulger was the moderator as we talked about forced busing in Boston in the 70s. I told him about the incident. We both laughed as he said “I guess you are lucky to be alive!”
Through the years Whitey’s reputation as the “Savior of South Boston” certainly diminished and fear set in. There used to be newspaper articles saying Whitey played it safe against the bad elements of South Boston; only running some gambling operations and keeping drugs out of the area. Works out he was the drug runner and involved in pretty much everything illegal in the area, plus murdering people at will. He has been charged with 19 known murders and believed to be involved with many more.
Paul Corsetti, a former reporter I worked with, also had an incident with Whitey. Paul was chasing a story on a South Boston bookie and not thinking much about it when he got a call at the office. It said it was Whitey himself telling Paul “I know where you’re family lives and the school bus your daughter gets on every day.” Paul told Whitey it was not him he was looking into and gave him the bookie’s name he was watching. Whitey lightened up and gave Paul all the information he needed to do the story and the two moved on.
Another time in South Boston at Preble Circle there was a call for a shooting. I raced there and the area was hectic with EMTs working a victim and cops running around looking for suspects. Dick Fallon, another news photographer, kept telling me they were looking for Steven “The Rifleman” Flemmi, who it turns out, was Whitey Bulger’s partner both being FBI informants. Steve’s brother Michael was a Boston Cop who later got himself in trouble and ended up in jail like his brother.
In the late 1967 I was cruising with Record American photographer Gene Dixon my colleague for 16 plus years when he heard the call for a person in the snow. It was on Harvard Street in Dorchester and when we got there William Bennett one of three brothers was curled up, bloody snow around him as he had been assassinated. The other two brothers Walter and Edward also died that year and the only body that was found at that time was William’s. As I read up on the history of Whitey it seems his murder was all part of the gang wars of those past days.
I grew up in Revere, Massachusetts where it was said there was a bookie or gangster on every corner. Not true– just on a lot of corners but not all of them. My first “Mafia” hit took place during a gang war between local gangs. There was an informant by the name of Joseph Baron Barboza.
Barboza used to hang around a club at the old Pleasanton Hotel on Revere Beach (three alarm fire destroyed it, yes I was there). One of the entertainers at the club was Myles Connor, infamous for shooting former Major Jack O’Donovan of MSP in 1966, (when he was a lieutenant detective) in a shootout in Boston’s Back Bay. Connor who used to jump out of a casket in his act went on to prison after the shooting and is somehow connected to the Isabella Stewart Museum Robbery of 1990. There is also a story that Whitey Bulger and an associate might also be somehow involved with the Museum Heist.
One night at the Pleasanton a guest got assaulted by Barboza. Rather than testify against him he did a year in jail for contempt of court. Scary people there and a mile further down the boulevard was the Ebb Tide a club where the Patriarca associates hung out. They were not there to listen to entertainer Tommy Hunt sing I’m sure but I was a few times, listening to the music and looking to see what wise guys came into view. It is like a tread mill with all of the same people on it and continuing to keep the platform going.
Joe was somehow involved in helping the police get to rival gang members who may or may not have been the people who frequented the Ebb Tide. As a result he and his friends were on a hit list. On a weekday night 35 plus years ago I covered the murder of Dominic D’Amico, and East Boston man. He was an associate of Barboza’s and had gone into a Boston club in what was then called the Combat Zone on lower Washington Street and straighten things out. He had police protection and ditch them thinking he could make things right.
He was told to go to Revere and meet someone near the Squire Club on Squire Road in North Revere. He did meet someone or should we say someone met him. When I got there he had been blown apart and was sitting slouched against the steering wheel of his car about 100 yards from the club. I went to the scene from my home and met the overnight photographers who were working. Revere Police Officer Mickey Cassoli was in charge and teased me about allowing me to photograph the scene. Mickey was one of the great cops I got to work with over the years.
Another one of the group was Patsy Fabiano. Patsy was in hiding and at one point was put in the Charles Street Jail for protection. Kevin Cole, my colleague at the paper, got his picture as he walked in the front door. Patsy was later killed gangland style in the Boston area. I actually knew Patsy; he hung out in Revere and went to Revere High.
During this gang war time our great writer Harold Banks did a book on Barboza and word was out there was a “hit” on him. Harold was the City Editor on Saturdays at the paper and his Assistant City Editor was Tom Sullivan. Harold was nervous about what might happen and had police protection, One Saturday, Tom Sullivan put up a big sign on the back of his chair which read “I am not Harold Banks” with an arrow on the sign pointing to the Harold. It brought on a lot of laughs.
We were tight with the District Attorney back then and we were set up to photograph Barboza as he was being escorted from one court room to another at the Pemberton Square Court House. A very nervous Dick Thomson a colleague was sent on a Saturday morning and the suspect was led across the corridor well protected by police. Our Sunday edition was the only paper that captured the image. The end finally caught up with Barboza on the streets of San Francisco reportedly by a Boston area hit man!
I was on Prince Street in Boston’s North End when they raided the offices of Gennaro Angiulo the local crime boss. The office had been bugged and after culling the information that was needed they pulled out all of the files, safes and whatever else was movable. Of course the late and great Globe reporter Dick Connolly was there, notebook in hand and watching the scene. Dick was so good at what he did I would be surprised if he did not get to listen to the tapes that were recorded.
I had a friend who was told after officials listened to those recordings he was on a hit list. My friend had pissed some Mafia people and it was time to even the score. The “law” wanted him to help them but instead he fled the Country for several years till things cooled down.
The Angiulo office was less than a mile from the Manchester Street garage Whitey used to hang out with along with his partner Steve Flemmi. Most of the photos we see of Whitey and Steve were taken in the area of that garage. Mass State Police had set up surveillance in a building across from the site. All of a sudden the pair stopped going to the garage and the rife between the FBI became more pronounced as they thought there was a leak coming from that office. Works out they were correct and his name was John “Zipper” Connolly.
Reporter Pam Cross and I were in a district court following Frank “Cadillac” Salemne, a Mafia boss and hit man. He survived an attempt on his life during a daytime try on Route One in Saugus, MA, when several shots were fired at him and although he was hit he survived. Salemne at one time had fled Massachusetts and was living in New York. FBI Agent John Connolly happened to see him amongst 8 million people on a downtown Manhattan Street and made the arrest. It was always felt he was one of the people Bulger and Flemmi dimed out and let Connolly know where he was. Salemne was supposed to be a friend of the pair.
The big boss of the Mafia in New England was Raymond Patriaca, the Mafia Don from Rhode Island. Getting a photo of him was a big deal as he put the fear of God in everyone and he always had his tiparillo cigar in his mouth and did not say pleasant things to the media.
The first time I saw him was at Federal Court in Boston. We were all waiting for his appearance, everyone was talking, and I was the only one that spotted him when he walked by us. I raced in behind him as he got in the elevator and got the only photo as the elevator door closed. About an hour later he came out the same door and walked right through the crowd, everyone was alert this time. Both the AP and UPI photographers got better images than I did and the Editor of the paper hung them up in the photo department to make sure we all knew we got beat.
The last time I saw Raymond was at a New Bedford Court when they brought him in by ambulance and stretchered him into his hearing. I got a great photo of him laid out. When he died we all went down to Rhode Island to the funeral home and covered people going in and out of the wake.
When I first began at the newspaper, bookie raids were big and we had sources to tell us when, where and everything we needed to know to be there when it happened. I was dispatched to the 411 Club on Columbus Avenue in Boston’s South End. The suspects were being carted out and from there I followed the group to the Federal Court House in Post Office Square. There were not any metal detectors in those days so keeping up with the group was no problem.
I got into an elevator but little did I know I got on with some of the suspects. One of them being a major player in the racketeering group, Dr. Harry “Doc” Sagansky, a Brookline dentist and big time bookie. He was smoking a cigar and he turned to me flicking his ashes and said “If you take my picture I will burn your eyes out.” I still have my eyes so you know what I did not do that day.
Another time the FBI was picking up Mafia suspects along with Boston Police and they paraded the group across the street to the JFK building from the District One Police Station on New Sudbury Street. It was a very organized show and tell by the cops and at one point Vinnie “The Animal” Ferrara, one of the key figures, looks at me and says “get that light out of my eyes,” I said “yes sir” and moved onto someone else.
I knew some of the victims of Mafia hits. The beautiful wife of gangster Richie Castucci, Sandra, used to shop at Arthur’s Creamery where I had my high school delivery job. I loved going to his Revere Beach Boulevard home as the tip was big and she was good to look at.
He reportedly felt obligated to the FBI after they provided some information to him so he became a confidant. They found him wrapped up dead in the trunk of his car less than a mile from where Damico was murdered on Lantern Road in Revere. This was supposedly part of the Whitey Bulger’s group of killings. Another murder tied to FBI Agent, John “Zipper” Connolly, who is serving what should end up being life sentence in a Florida Jail.
When these gang wars first began my colleague Gene Dixon took a great photo of one of the victims near the back of the old Boston Garden. Gene had gone up on the expressway and even told Globe photographer Ollie Noonan, Jr. where there was a good view. The photos the two of them made with the lighting, girders and highway made it look like the scene from a movie.
The Record American did not use the photo as they thought it was too gruesome and Gene walked around for weeks showing and talking about all the suggestive pictures on the movie pages of the paper where everyone appeared to being having sex (not the words he used). What really got him pissed was seeing Ollie’s photo in a double page spread in Life Magazine doing a story on underworld murders and this was a good example.
Today, while chasing the story surrounding Whitey’s capture I was first sent to his brother’s Billy house then to his brother Jack’s house, both in South Boston. I was sitting there looking around working to stay awake and as I looked up at two men talking I realized one of them looked like Jackie. I picked up my video camera and zoomed in, it was him.
I started taping the scene, jumped out of the car as he began walking towards me. He had this big umbrella in his hand and all I could think of was I escaped the wrath of his brother and now he would do me in. Not to be, I said “Hello, would you like to talk to me?” he very angrily said “I am not talking” and he walked back to his apartment.
The Rest of The Story:
My friend and colleague Mike Andersen updates me with his Patriaca story.
I could identify with you photographing mobsters. Right after I started at the Record I was assigned to get a picture of Raymond Patriarca being arraigned in Federal Court. I didn’t even know how to get from Winthrop Square to the courthouse. They told me to go to the pressroom on the 14th floor and the reporter would help me. I didn’t know cameras not only were not allowed in the courtroom but weren’t allowed on the same floor. So I was wandering around the 14th floor, looking for the pressroom, and I was passing the elevators when the elevator door opened and four men in suits got off, surrounding this tough-looking, wiry little man. “No pictures,” one of the suits said, and naturally I complied. I didn’t even know it was Patriarca but sensed it was. Later I got a picture of him in the back seat of the Marshalls’ car coming up out of the courthouse parking garage. I told the picture editor not to put my credit line on the picture; I didn’t want Patriarca to know who took it.
See link to Margery Egan Story on Bennett Brothers:
It took almost 45 years but I got to cover the Boston Bruins winning the Stanley Cup for the third time. There was almost 40 years in between the 2nd and 3rd championships; the first two happened when I was an avid fan and season ticket holder. I saw every game Bobby Orr played at Boston Garden and even drove down to watch the Bruins and the Rangers play in New York back in the days when hockey was very important to me.
The morning after the win was fun, got called into work early to go to Logan Airport for the team’s return from Vancouver and thought I might get to see them getting off the plane for their bus ride back to the Garden. Not to be, everything was secretive and the news crews were not sure which gate the bus would come off the tarmac through and they fooled us all as they went out an opening none of us realized would be used. Beat before I could even get into 2nd gear.
From Logan I went to Causeway Street and thinking the way I did 40 years ago I forgot the bus would pull into the front parking lot and we could see them getting into their cars and maybe even get to talk with them. I had thought they would drive into the Garden like they used to, inside via the long ramp in the back of the building and flee the news hounds. I guess sometimes I do live in the past. Had I known the great access we were going to have I would have gone a little faster and skipped the pit stop I made before I got there. When I did get there and realized what was going on I ran through the traffic to be where the action was.
The first player I spotted was Zdeno Chara, the big football player size defenseman, who was in the back seat of a limo but the guest with him was what made me take notice. He had the Stanley Cup sitting next to him and was the first of the players to take it home. He is the Captain so I guess he might decide who is first or maybe it is an automatic. After I tapped on his car window several times to see if he would open it for me I realized it just was not going to happen so I moved on to the bigger group which was slowly becoming smaller and smaller and only a few of the players were still there. I did stick my mic in one of the car windows but I don’t even know who it was being interviewed.
From there the day got better. Mike Dowling, a WCVB sports reporter, caught up with me and we went looking for the Bruins players who lived in the North End with no clue where that might be. This venture only lasted a few minutes as we got word we were going to interview Kevin and Lynn Marchand the parents of Brad, the Bruins star rookie who had three points in the 7th and deciding game and may have been one of the finalists for MVP.
Talk about a class act. They walked down to the Garden from Brad’s apartment and talked to us for quite awhile giving some insight into their wonderful adventure chasing the Stanley Cup with their son Brad. What fun. His father had gone to 20 playoff games and his mother only 16. They told us she was banned from the games after she attended two losing games. When they lost a game she wasn’t at she was then allowed to continue the run. Mike Dowling told me another parent of one of the players also suffered the same fate after she was at a couple of losing games. Superstition is superstition and being a lottery player I know what that word means.
Mrs. Marchand went on to tell us how she really disliked his beard and hoped he would be shaving it ASAP. They joked about what a mess his apartment was and she was hoping he would get someone to keep it clean. They also talked about their other athletic son and two daughters even letting us know Brad’s younger brother was a faster skater and tougher on the ice.
But the real fun began a few hours later when we found out the Cup was being wheeled down Commercial Street in the North End to Tia’s restaurant on the waterfront where many of the team would meet for cocktails. It was very crowded at the outside bar with patrons snapping photos or just gawking when they realized the stars of the day and the Stanley Cup were in plain view for everyone to see and all had their cell phones clicking away with some of the people manning real cameras. I showed one of the waitresses how to use the zoom on her newly bought IPad and made her day.
What a thrill to see today’s “heroes” out mixing with the regulars and enjoying every moment of it. I could have recited every player’s name in the NHL back in the 60s and 70s but to tell the truth today I have not a clue who is who. This year I watched all the playoff games and the players on the Bruins did not shave during the playoffs and all had playoff beards. It threw me for a loop on Thursday as they had almost all clipped their beards when I saw them and I had figure out who is who. I have not figured it out yet.
These players had muscles on muscles, 6 pack abs that people would die for and if I were to try to get them I probably would die. I don’t think the athletes of today are better athletes than those of the long gone era but they certainly are stronger and have more muscle. Then there is the tattoos; or as the kids call them “ink”. The only ink on my era’s athletes would have been from a leaking pen after signing an autograph.
My first rally was after the Celtics won one of their 18 championships and Boston finally honored them with a parade in the 60s. They were in convertibles driving through the Park Square area. I was so mesmerized by the John Havlicek’s beautiful wife Beth, (what a hottie and that word was not even invented back then) I don’t think I shot anything but photos of her.
On City Hall Plaza in the 80s there was another Celtics rally and Larry Bird told the tens of thousands, “Moses eats shit,” referring to Moses Malone after the Celtics beat the Houston Rockets. Did that set off a pound or two of letters and phone calls!
After one of the Bruins championships in the 70s, Phil Esposito had surgery at MGH and the Bruins were having their breakup dinner at a nearby restaurant. There was no way Phil wasn’t going to be there so some of his team members pushed his hospital bed with him in it to the restaurant. The story goes they broke the frame to a door or two getting out of the hospital and he was still hooked up to IVs. With that team the whole story could be true.
For their first Cup win at Boston Garden my seats section 73, seats 3 and 4 gave me a great view of Bobby Orr’s overtime goal and in 1972 I was at Logan Airport when the Bruins returned with the Stanley Cup after beating the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. We were allowed up to the exit ramp and I was taking photos of everybody when Bobby Orr appeared walking with a young woman, (he handed the young woman I was with a bottle of champagne from the celebration) I mistakenly identified as his girlfriend Peggy, his future wife, WRONG! The next day I was scrambling to figure out who she was. I went to Wellesley and knocked on the State Treasurer Bob Crane’s door with photo in hand to find out who she was and of course Bob knew it was a secretary from the Bruins’ office. He was buddies with Orr and knew all about the team.
Who can forget the Bruins first Stanley Cup Championship rally on Boston’s City Hall Plaza when Johnny “Pie” Mackenzie poured a pitcher of beer over Mayor Kevin White’s head and then the Mayor returned the deed after they won their 2nd cup in 1972.
In 1975 after Carleton Fisk hit his famous home run against the Cincinnati Reds I ran out on the field with all the other photographers as I was covering the game. In 1986 there I was again running out to home plate after the Red Sox beat the Angels in 1986 to go to the World Series.
Who can forget the 2004 Red Sox pre-rolling rally event at Fenway Park when I chose to not work and take my girls to the parade. We walked up to the gate at Fenway on a whim and there was a Boston Cop I have known forever at the door. A few moments later, we were inside enjoying the festivities, running on the field as the Duck Boats loaded. Our Christmas picture that year was my girls with Johnny Damon.
My scariest moment in sports came in January 1986 when the Patriots beat Miami for the right to face the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl. I was dispatched to Green Airport in Rhode Island for a 2am arrival of the team. Works out there must have been 10,000 people who also wanted to greet them. We were somehow in the middle of the tarmac after the plane landed waiting for the players to come down the walkway. All of a sudden these 10,000 people broke through whatever police lines were there and came charging out to the plane. I was with Jim Reddy a technician at the station who was sent with me to help. They came rushing, I thought it was over, Jim grabbed me and put this big bear hug on me and we just stood in the middle like a street pole and thankfully the crowd went around us. I bet $50.00 on the game and I think the Patriots lost by almost 50 points.
In 1986 after the Red Sox lost to the Mets in one of the games after the controversy that stemmed between a pitch by Bob Stanley being a wild pitch or it being a passed ball by catcher Rich Gedman, I was at Fenway when the heart broken team arrived home I heard one of the followers yelling out to Stanley, “You’re the best” and not many agreed at that point in time.
Today, June 18, was the big rally for the Bruins Championship. In all the rallies I have covered this was the biggest crowd pleaser. They had to be more than a million folks lining the streets of Boston for the rolling rally. It was great to be able to share it with those folks even if I was behind the camera.
So in my 45 years of news photography I have worked 3 Super Bowl celebrations, two World Series rallies, numerous Celtics celebrations and 3 Bruins Stanley Cup “parties.” Not bad for a man whose only athletic pursuit is reading the sports section of various publications.
My daughters at 21 and 22 have seen all of the hometown teams win a championship, a feat that took me 55 years.
Outside the garden the other day when the Bruins returned I bumped in Tom Farmer, former Herald reporter and long time friend. His question to me was “I bet you have covered all three of their cup wins?” My answer was “yes” and now I am wondering if he is trying to tell me I am old?
The only thing I do know if it takes another 40 years to win the cup again I will not be there for the celebration.
What a week, starting off on Sunday covering a fatal motorcycle accident. It was one of those smaller bikes or should I just say not a Harley. It was Sunday morning in Saugus, MA, around 6:30am when I took a run to a call that sounded serious.
When I got there Saugus Police had the area condoned off and there was what was left of the bike. Half at one point of the area and the other half at the other side. In the middle was the driver’s seat and a helmet with char marks from the resulting fire after the bike went under a pickup truck and bursting into flames, the 20 year old driver did not survive.
The week before I was driving north on Route One in Saugus when two of those bikes went flying by me. The first one doing near 100 miles an hour almost tipping over as he made the curves. A few minutes later I saw the bikes pulling into a restaurant further up the road and I pulled in after them.
I rolled down my window and identified myself as a news person and asking them in no uncertain terms what they were doing driving like that explaining in my way of explaining how many dead people I had seen as a result of craziness like they displayed. One of the riders apologized and I said not to me pal but to your family after you are gone. When I asked the other if he wanted to die he shrugged his shoulders and walked away. I said don’t believe what Osama said you are not coming back.
On Monday of last week it got worse a 12 year old had drowned in the waters off of Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. She went missing around 8: pm Sunday night after her and her 20 year old brother had gone for a swim.
Reporter Jack Harper and I caught up with the family Monday morning and it was a home of a tragedy we walked into. The family could not have been nicer inviting us in to copy photos of the young girl which were hanging on the wall then talking to us about what happened.
The 20 year brother was distraught as he explained how he and his family decided at 5: pm there wasn’t much traffic and they should go to Hampton Beach for some fun. Around 8pm the two of them decided to go for a swim. They did not realize how cold the water was or how stiff the current was flowing. In the water a couple of minutes and suddenly his younger sister was yelling for help and he was trying to reach her. He was blaming himself for not being able to reach her and still hearing her shouts for help. He told us while trying and not succeeding in keeping himself composed how he became exhausted almost drowning himself till a passerby pulled him to safety. It was awful to visualize and I am sure he will be keeping those awful memories with him the rest of his life. A few hours later her body was discovered about where she was last seen. She had come in with the currents that took her away.
Wednesday started off great chasing weather and quarter size hail. I did not get to catch up with the ice on my first run around nine in the morning but the day continued with a lightning strike house fire in Andover then the call for a sighting of a bear that had been spotted the day before in Weston, MA.
I went from Andover to Wayland hoping I would be there for the capture of the animal who was shopping for food at the wrong restaurant, neighborhood streets. There was several sightings that morning and I was chasing police who were chasing the bear, lot of excitement and for me lots of fun as the only bears I had ever viewed were in captivity.
Jack Harper was once again going to be my partner and as the cops were searching the woods behind the house where the last sighting took place a call came in from neighboring Framingham they had the bear in sight about a mile from where I was.
I sped down route 126 not knowing for sure where I was going but knowing it was supposed to be just over the town line. I saw the entering Framingham sign and knew I was close but after driving about a mile I decided I must have missed the street and yes I did on the first pass.
I spotted a police cruiser this time and got up to a fence where cops and civilians were yelling there it is there it is and a couple of them convinced there were two bears. I jumped out of the car debating whether to grab my tripod and decided I didn’t want to take the extra few seconds it would take and besides that carrying both a tripod and camera is hard on my back.
There I was looking through my black and white viewfinder with these people yelling there it is and no way I could spot it though the camera lens, a black bear, dark trees and leaves and no separation of colors.
I figured I should get my tripod for the long wait for the bear to come out from the brush. While setting up the tripod and mounting the camera the group starting yelling again and I glanced to the left and there it was about 3 seconds of view and before I could shoot it (with the camera) it was gone. At least I got to see a bear in the woods.
We were waiting to do a live shot when the calls starting coming in about a possible tornado in Springfield. The weather conditions where we were starting deteriorating and there was no way we could do a live shot, lightening and wind were putting an end to that.
I was able to pull up one of the radio applications on my IPhone and listen to fire calls in western part of the State. There was confirmation of a touch down of at least one tornado in Springfield which would later grow to three separate tornados all being a category threes with gusts as high as 165 MPH.
Then the real fun began and believe me it wasn’t fun. Jack and I started heading West on the Pike for Springfield about an hour away. It got very scary and Jack had been telling me about this great show on tornados he had watched the night before. At one point he said he wished he had not watched it as he now knew too much about them.
About 20 minutes down the pike the sky got darker the rain heavy and the quarter size hail I missed in the morning was pounding down on our vehicle banging away like someone was throwing rocks at us. We pulled over like many other vehicles and Jack did the first of three great phoners for the news reports. What a description he gave as he put the viewer in our car watching what we were seeing.
Continue west we heard reports of a tornado travelling east parallel to the Pike heading towards us as we headed west towards it. We were not sure what to do and were trying to figure out where we take shelter if we see one. I think we both would have liked to see it as long as we could be safe. The only place I could see and it was kind of a joke was under a guardrail which I could never fit under and would probably not help us anyway.
I would hear calls for buildings collapsing in Munson which ended up being one of the harder hit towns but Springfield was our destination as we knew it was a sure thing. After talking our way into one of the ravaged areas in the 200 block of Maple Street we could see how severe the damage was. Many trees uprooted, houses heavily damaged and people clinging to each other happy to have survived the onslaught. It was tough to look at knowing many of these people had not much to begin with and they lost whatever was left.
That was day one of the storm and day two was worse as reporter Kelly Tuthill and I went to West Springfield where two of the three people killed as a result of the storm lived. The first one we went to was a house that was no more where a 39 year old mother had grabbed her daughter; put her in the bath tub with her and protected her from the destruction by lying on top of her. The 15 year old survived with non life threatening injuries while the mother died doing what mothers do, trying to keep their children safe.
From there we traveled a few miles from that house to the home of a 23 year old man whose family had come from Russia and his parents and eight siblings lived. He had been killed driving down Main Street in West Springfield after a tree fell on his vehicle crushing him.
We talked to his sister who was a lovely young woman explaining to us what a wonderful brother he was and then talking about watching TVearlier and hearing someone had died after a tree had fallen. She told us how badly she felt for the victim and his family. When she found out it was her brother her whole world was crushed.
The week finally ended for me in Munson where I saw more houses destroyed, people trying to salvage what they could which wasn’t much and hearing stories of survival.
Total for week was five dead, scores of houses destroyed and sadness at every view.