Wow, what a day, May 22, 2011 a day I will always remember as our oldest daughter Molly got her Bachelor of Science degree at Boston University’s 138th commencement. Yes I do play that number in the lottery as it was my first News Photographer’s license plate and my call “numbers” for all the news groups I am a member of. Several years ago I hit it two nights in a row as the number repeated itself. No I did not win a ton of money!
I guess it started in 1979 when I met my wife Debbie in the Arnold Arboretum while we were both walking our dogs. Hers was mutt named Abby and mine was a pedigree Golden Retriever called Glossy. Talk about a role reversal. The dogs fell in love right away and a few minutes later I guess we did also.
In 1989 we were blessed with two daughters 10 months apart and today was the culmination of what life is supposed to be if you are lucky and things go right. Molly graduated with her BS in health studies; She will continue for two more years for her doctorate in physical therapy.
Our other daughter Hannah will graduate next year with her nursing degree and then the next year Molly will get her doctorate so we will have had three commencements in three years.
Not bad for a high school graduate who at that time was not sure if I graduated with my class or not. It was a hot June day in 1963 when I had my cap (I still have that cap somewhere) and gown on at Harry Della Russo Stadium in Revere. In those days I had heard about kids who got blank diplomas as they did not pass their grades. I remember my name being called, walking up, getting my diploma, going back to my seat and squeezing the folder open to see if I had a winning hand, yup I did it.
For the last 45 years in the news business I have covered scores of graduations and commencements but none meant as much to me as Molly’s day. It was a long day which began when we left home at 7:30 in the morning for a 9am ceremony at BU’s Sargent College. I was overwhelmed with joy as I watched Molly get her degree and realized Debbie and I had done well, very well. How did we ever pull this off? Debbie did a great job and I guess I supplied support.
Some of the commencements I cover in the past were memorable, like when Richard Cardinal Cushing walked down the center aisle of the Boston College commencement in all his splendor with his red robes flowing and the audience at Boston College was mesmerized by his presence.
Another year at BC there was a graduate wearing a Mickey Mouse tee shirt and the picture I took ended up on Page One in the Record American. At MIT there was Lee Iacocca best known for the revival of the Chrysler Corporation from near bankruptcy telling the students to “start your engines” as his closing remark.
I think I have covered most of the college commencements in the area at least once but I have never covered Harvard’s commencement. Don’t know why it worked out that way but maybe because they always graduate on Thursdays and for many years at the newspaper I had Sunday and Thursday off? Maybe I will go my whole career without that one. Back in the 60s when there were great demonstrations I had wished I was covering it.
Today we listened to Katie Couric, a network standout give a great speech about the future for these graduates. Talking about her rise to the top and how low she was on the totem pole when she began. Just trying to get in the door for her was tough.
I think her best story was when she first took the anchor desk for the CBS nightly news in “06” and how harsh the critics were on her. From the clothes she was wearing to her hair style, makeup and finally they said she lacked “gravitas.” Not being sure what the word meant she decided the word gravitas really meant she had no testicles. What a roar went up from all of us on that one.
It was a wonderful day for Debbie and I and the more I think about it the more I realize we did do something right, in our old age we will have someone to help us get out of bed and another daughter to give us our medication.
Forgiveness: A show on WGBH-TV, Boston’s PBS station about the shooting of Boston Police Officer Walter Schroeder killed in the line of duty in 1970. Here are my memories of the incident.
The late 60s and early 70s were a tumultuous time in Boston and across the Country with all the Vietnam War protests and unrest towards the government. I met Officer Walter Schroeder for the first time in the lobby of the Brighton district police station after he captured a bank robber. The robbery took place at the State Street Bank Branch on the corner of Western Avenue and Everett Street in Brighton, the same spot where he would try and stop another robbery several years later and was shot to death.
These were the days when yellow tape was not in play and interviews and photos could be taken right up close at the scene of the crime. In a photo opportunity after the capture, Schroeder had laid out the money on a bench in the front lobby of the station along with the rifle he confiscated from the would-be robber.
When the robbery that killed Schroeder happened on September 24, 1970, I was in Worcester with reporter, Ed Corsetti, when we were working for the Record American. We were in Worcester covering the murder of a Priest and a housewife near a Worcester church. While driving back to the newspaper we heard about the shooting and went immediately to the scene.
The only news photographer that got the video of any real action was Nat Whittemore of WBZ-TV. He had great film of Office Schroeder being worked on by medical personnel, pumping his heart, trying to save him as he was rushed into the emergency room of Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital. He died shortly there after from his injuries.
The night of the shooting I was asked to stick around after my shift because the editors had information from Boston Police that the department had several leads on the suspects of the robbery and the editors would know before anything happened.
Around 8 o’clock that night I was sent to a building in the 160 block of Beacon Street in the Back Bay. Detectives were getting ready to break down the door to a 1st floor apartment where they believed the suspects were or had been. I stood in the vestibule of the hallway as they broke the door down. As the police went about their work, I took a photo and yelled, “flash going off!” I did not want them to think a gun was fired.
I was allowed into the apartment and walked around with detectives. There was a radio which could get police calls, a green military ammunition box and reading magazines about weapons. The cops were great and I was allowed to do whatever so long as I did not touch anything. This was the apartment of Stanley Bond, the reported ring leader of the robbery.
Bond had the support of two female students from Brandeis University, Susan Saxe and Katherine Ann Power, who were eventually both wanted for murder along with the shooter Lefty Gilday. There was a 5th person wanted in the murder but I don’t remember his connection.
This story had legs and I was on it for many weeks. I spent time at Brandeis University when Boston Police worked the campus looking for anything that would lead them to the suspects.
Within a few days of the shooting there was a car chase in the Merrimac Valley area which began on Route 38 in the Tewksbury. I was in-line along with the police, chasing a car which had Lefty Gilday driving it and we were all flying north on Route 38 from Rt.128 to Rt.495 and several times I had to move over to let state police cruisers get in front of me.
I was in the chase with the police as we sped up and down the roadway and the chase continued on Route 495 in the Haverhill area. At one point I got off an exit on Haverhill driving about 80 miles an hour and as I applied the brakes or should I say jammed the brakes, the car rocked from side to side and I said to myself “I am not going to die in this chase!” Yes I did have my seatbelt on. I was driving a 1966 Plymouth Fury with a 383 engine. Wow did that car move.
Later that evening, while driving home on Route 60 in Revere I went down the breakdown lane to get to the front of an intersection where the lights were red. Moments later, I was pulled over by the police for my driving. I told the officer it was probably a good thing he pulled me over and explained what I had been doing earlier in the day. He told me to smarten up and gave me a warning.
Later in the week I was covering Officer Schroeder’s funeral when we got a tip Gilday had been captured in Worcester. Works out he had held a family in Haverhill at gunpoint for three days and left that morning. I raced out to Worcester where the captured Gilday was brought out to a BPD wagon and transported to Boston and his arraignment.
Gilday was captured by State Trooper Bobby Long (the bad one as the SPD also had a great Trooper by the same name).
On a side note: Bobby was in a class ahead of me at Revere High and always danced to his own drummer. Several years later after this capture and subsequently becoming a local hero, he shot and killed several people in Florida including his girlfriend and is now in a Florida Prison for life. At the time of his trial, he claimed he was having a flashback to his days in Vietnam and after the trial was told had he not reloaded his gun during the shooting that the defense might have worked.
Stanley Bond the reported ring leader of the robbery was captured in Denver bought back to Boston convicted and eventually blew himself up at MCI Walpole.
Susan Saxe and Katherine Ann Powers escaped capture for many years. Ms. Sax was eventually captured in Philadelphia and I covered her as she was brought into the Pemberton Square Court House for arraignment. Many years later Katherine Ann Powers gave herself up to authorities on the West Coast. Both woman served time at MCI Framingham.
Schroeder History: Detective John Schroeder of Boston Police, brother of Walter Schroeder, was killed in the line of duty in 1973 at an investigation. A third brother, Barney, became a Deputy Superintendent on the force and is pictured above on the day when “The Soiling Of Old Glory” photo was taken as he works to restrain the crowd.
Boston Police Headquarters is named “Schroeder Plaza” in memory of the brothers.
links to other stories on the incident:
Growing up I was told by my mother or maybe it was my grandmother that sneezing six times in a row was lucky. Of course back then the thinking was it would bring a financial miracle. Being very superstitious and willing to put a quarter or so on a lottery ticket I always believed it would happen.
Well I have already hit the lottery of life and I am still trying for the financial part of it. Yes like so many other believers I know I will cash in that six digit ticket one of these days.
I sneeze a lot and count the sneezes. Of course when it comes about I make sure I drop to my knees otherwise I will drop to my knees as I did in 1976 when I sneezed out my back. My father had to come to my Watertown apartment and practically carry me to the doctor.
Yesterday, Tuesday the 8th of March I sneezed 9 times, which should be really lucky and since I don’t seem to be hitting the lottery it usually means a good story. I am humored at the Channel Five office about this and when I called the Assistant News Director, Gerry Wardwell, he laughed and said “what does that mean you are going to cover a rollover on Route 128?”
12 hours later I am sitting at the computer and Peabody Fire gives out a call for a tandem tractor trailer rollover on Route 128 at Route 95, eight miles from my home. I was beside myself and decided not to go as Wardwell was not going to get the last laugh.
A few minutes later they upgraded the call and said the trailer that overturned was carrying ink and it had covered the roadway. I still did not want to go but when the station did a cut-in and the roadway looked like a rainbow from the aerial view I slid down the pole and raced to the scene.
So was I right that something would happen or was Gerry right about a rollover on route 128?
“Coyote on an ice flow on the Charles River, Cambridge side behind the Sonesta Hotel and rescuers on the way.”
The first call I heard and there I was in the middle of a snow storm, slippery roads, poor visibility, red traffic lights, McDonald’s pit stop and with what little traffic there was on the roads seemed to be in front of me. Then it took 10 minutes to get through every traffic lighted intersection while my patience waned.
It seemed like I could not get a break. What was normally a 25 minute ride turned into almost an hour and every minute it took me to get there put the rescuers from the Animal Rescue League closer to their prey.
The good news was when I did get there the rescuer in the wet suit was just being lowered via a rope into the Charles. A frontend loader which cleared some of the snow had the ropes tied to it and Sgt. Jim Deyermond of MSP in control of the ropes.
As I tried to park and watch at the same time there was a NECN team there, Mark Garfinkle of the Herald with all is lens, youth and knowing what to do and the man who makes me feel young Al McNaughton from WHDH who will be 73 in March. I hate being late and last.
I did not think I had time to put on my two rain jackets, one for me and one for the camera so we both were not covered properly, plus I have a tough time working with gloves so my hands were uncovered. The good news was as soon as I dragged myself, video camera, still camera and tripod to the railing overlooking the Charles the coyote was no more than 30 feet from me struggling to stay afloat on an ice flow.
The rescuer had the snare hook rope on a pole and the plan was to grab the “wild dog” and drag it to the boat docks near where we were. The only problem with the plan is the Coyote was not going along with it. As the rescuer made progress going towards the coyote the coyote would keeping moving further away, falling through ice holes and pulling herself up. The rescuer was hoping it would be stuck with half its body in the water so it could be “saved.”
I was using the video camera then the still camera then the video camera. For what I do the video was more important for what I wanted the still camera was more fun. The only time I do coyote stories in my 44 years was after it attacked a domestic animal or was a safety nuisance. Coyotes are not taken happily or lightly in this area.
The rescue operation went on for about 20 minutes, I shot 12 minutes of tape, took 20 something stills and the last shot was of the animal making its way across the Charles back to Boston. (One theory from Nancy Bent on the assignment desk is the people on Beacon Hill put her on an iceberg as it was probably a cousin of the one that menaced Louisburg Square last month).
I was frozen when I got through; the cold had gone through me. My hands were numb along with my well booted feet. I was so cold I was nauseous. I thought my day was over as I could not feel anything but pain. It took about 20 minutes to get back to feeling comfortable. The good news is the station website ran 17 photos and the pain seemed to be worth it.
The rescuers packed up their gear and went looking for her on the Boston side of the Charles. A few hours later we were notified she was captured and brought to the Tufts Veterinary Hospital in Grafton in good shape.
She was scheduled to be released this past weekend into a safe environment.
Video on www.TheBostonChannel.com:
Not my first animal rescue on the Charles.
In January of 1978 I was about 100 yards from these same docks at the MIT boat house where there was a dog stuck on the ice. I got there with the first arriving police and brought my Golden Retriever down to the dock to try and lure the dog back to safety.
“Glossy” barked and wagged her tail and the dog made it back to land. Something like the movie we saw last night, “No Strings Attached.”
Routine call from Joe Roche on the assignment desk, cat on a pole in Roxbury, please take a look. When I got there Danielle Genter from the Animal Rescue League was already there, I worked with her two weeks ago on the coyote rescue.
Looking around I saw nothing but her vehicle and the deep snow I thought I was going to have to trudge through to find this kitten. I looked up there she was, perched on the top of a telephone pole without a care in the world. She was practically doing a ballet dance on her perch. Prancing around, giving herself a bath, not a care in the world. The only problem it’s owner a sweet elderly woman was just about panicked.
There I was standing and talking to her as she told me Channel Five was her favorite station, the reason she called us for help. She could not understand why the fire department and the Animal Rescue League rescuer would not just climb up the pole and bring her 3 month old kitten “Star” down to safety. Worked out a neighbor dog chased the kitten up the pole the night before.
I know she did not understand when I explained to her the power lines were too dangerous for everyone but an electrical worker. She wanted no part of my explanation and for the next 90 minutes or so kept complaining. In between explaining and trying to ease her anxiety I was moving the tripod around and taking great video and still photos of the most carefree kitten you would ever want to see, both media produced compelling images, especially if you are an animal lover.
I had given up the wait for NStar and was pulling out of my parking space when I looked out the side view mirror and there was our future hero. The NStar truck pulled up and the technician accessed the situation and went to work.
He first put up the bucket to see if the kitten would just jump into it and when that did not work he got out this extension pole and just kept pulling out section after section after section, till it was long enough to reach the top of the pole. I had no idea what his plan was but I knew I had to grab a spot where I could be sitting down and balance my video camera on my knees so it could look straight up. I picked the icy stairway leading to the owners apartment tiptoed up and got to work. Bending backwards with the camera on my shoulder and looking up doesn’t work anymore on this old achy body.
The NStar man kept trying to push the kitten off the top and the kitten kept dodging the pole. It went on for a about a minute as the technician had great control of the pole and the cat seemed to keep it’s balance. All of a sudden the kitten started running down the pole a couple of feet and then leaped for safety. It ended up missing the hardened snow pile but landed first on the Danielle Genter’s shoulder then bounced into the hardened snow bank. Danielle had a blanket with her, grabbed the kitten like she was a shortstop on a baseball team and ran it into the woman’s home, with all of us following her.
The kitten was fine, no worse for the ordeal. The owner was elated and she thanked everyone. The NStar worker told her to call anytime she had a kitten stuck up a tree.
Video Link To Rescue:
I am lucky enough to be off today the coldest winter day since “05” in the Boston area. I think back to when I was a kid and loving every flake. It was wonderful coasting down Franklin Place in Revere even if the Rice Brothers who lived at the end of the run put ashes on their driveway. This was to prevent us from crashing into their garage. Actually I think they put them there because they did not like us as I don’t remember hitting the garage doors.
Who can remember before there was 4 wheel drive?
We all had rear wheel drive and mostly stick shift cars back then. Many of us gathered at the top of Walnut Avenue and Franklin Avenue. We were cheering those who could make the hill in the snow and getting behind the rest, to help push those who needed to be pushed.
Looking out my window and seeing Dexter Gruber shoveling out his father’s driveway no matter if there was 3 inches or 3 feet of snow. He just did it and better than anyone else could have.
The winter fire at the Lobster Cabin in Revere when I saw Revere Deputy Chief Eydenburg take a header on the ice and break his ankle. Then I heard my mother use the word “asshole” towards a neighbor who gave her a hard time about where she parked the car in the snow. Boy was I proud of her and never knew she could swear till then.
I had every type of sled there was except the kind that someone would pull to get me to the top of the run. In the 4th grade of school we had 4 ½ days off from a huge snow storm I could not see over the snow drifts. Roger Cohen and I built a snow fort in my backyard. The City had to hire bulldozers to clear the roadways. We never had a snow blower and I doubt they were even invented in the late 40s and 50s?
We had a long driveway and always hired someone to shovel it as I was either too lazy or my mother thought I was too weak, probably both.
At noontime when school was cancelled we would watch WBZ-TV and their storm coverage. A photographer would always have the shot looking through the windshield of their vehicle travelling behind a plow. Yes I have also made that shot many times.
I tried skiing for the first time in the early 70s. Bought everything that was needed except the skills to be able to do it. My first run was at Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire. I took the lift to the top of the easiest hill, got in position and tried skiing down. It was like I had glue on my skis. Pointing straight down the hill I did not move a foot. How was I to know you had to wax your skis before you use them?
There was a big storm in the late 60s and I had gone to a Bruins game. While I was travelling home, I could not get off Route One because the ramps were full of snow. Finally I went through Revere and got to the Malden-Revere line at the Salem Street exit and I was able to get off the highway. That was a good thing as traffic northbound on Route One came to a halt right there and the cars were trapped for hours. Back then there were just not enough plows to keep up.
Work is another issue. I started in 1966 and there was nothing more exciting than covering a snow storm. I don’t remember my first news storm but I remember going out there and everything you needed to see was right in front of you. You could not miss getting a good picture and not everyone had a camera or a cell phone with cameras or even cell phones. In those days you just had lots of dimes to call the office and real cameras.
At the newspaper photographer Carroll Myett would go to the Copley Plaza hotel in Copley Square every March. There were two lion statues at the entrance to the hotel and if it snowed he would title his shot of the lions “March Roared in Like a Lion.”
Blizzard of 78
There was the “Blizzard of 78” one of my biggest disappointments as a news photographer. I had had an emergency operation on my Achilles tendon in January and although I was using crutches I could not go out on the street to take pictures. I reported to the office everyday and just hung out.
With my right leg in a full cast I was able to drive after my friend and auto mechanic Alan “Doc” Kagan got a left foot gas peddle adapter from an auto parts catalog and rigged it up for me. I still don’t remember how I got my right leg into the front seat but there I was driving as needed.
On the day the storm began I left work early and went home to Roslindale, staring out the windows for several days and constantly calling the office with police and fire call updates for their coverage.
I did get out in the storm one of the nights as my friend and National Guard PR person Chip Hoar brought a National Guard truck to the bottom of my street and several National Guardsmen came to my door and had to drag me through the unplowed snow to their truck and we went out and covered the storm.
I had a portable scanner with me and we went to two fires, one in Dorchester one in Hull. There I was on crutches taking pictures with the National Guard guarding me.
Through the years the best stills and video came during storms that affected the Beachmont section of Revere. Before they put the pumping station up and better retaining walls. I could always count on people getting rescued and great photos.
No Name Storm of 1991
The best one for me was probably the No Name Storm of 1991 with the freezing cold and great photos as Police used bulldozers and ducks to get people out of their homes.
One of my better memories was when my friend Alan Gorin came by to see if I was there and we went to Dunkin Donuts for coffee. Alan died much too young, shortly after I saw him.
One time I was working with WCVB reporter Byron Pitts and we were in continuous coverage from Rougham’s Point in the Beachmont section and Byron was having a good time with me teasing me on the air about knowing so much about the area and reminding viewers I grew up near where we were.
The real good memories of winter and snow storms is when I took my girls sledding, ice skating and building snow people. If there was snow we were out in it.
Snow vs. 30 Pound TV Camera! PS the camera starts off at 22 pounds and gains weight like me during the day.
Now I dread the next storm and the thought of being out in it for hours. It is so had to maneuver through the snow banks and stay warm. I usual can so the former and fail on the later. Last week while covering the Revere murder on a cold winter’s day I was climbing down from a pile of snow when I started to take a header.
All I could think about was totaling another camera and I felt like a basketball player. On the way down I was able to twist my body like I was doing a dunk shot and gentle put the camera on the top of the pile.
Several years ago on route 95 in Peabody I was not as agile as I slipped, went up in the air and totaled a lens for about $12,000.00.
Not the last time I had issues with equipment and winter. Last year during the flooding I was trying to help a stranded motorist in Peabody. I had hip boots on and instead of putting my camera on dry land I put it on the windshield of the car to keep the camera safe.
I got into the driver’s seat to put the transmission in neutral so the car could be pushed. Who knew when I turned the ignition on to put the transmission in neutral the windshield wiper would push the camera off the windshield into several feet of water? Talk about a sick feeling.
This year has not been that bad yet but the potential is there. Wow am I glad to be off today!!!
Spike Lee a giant in his industry has used my photo “The Soiling Of Old Glory” in at least two of his movies, one of them being Malcolm X and I have an autographed hat from him. A couple of weeks ago I got an email from my website which asked for my phone number as the telephone number on my website was incorrect. The only catch to me from this email was it said the number that is on the site when dialed got them to a packing company.
My radar went up and I thought it was some kind of sexual reference. I sent a reply asking “who are you?” Their reply said Spike Lee wants to talk to you. Of course I sent the correct number back immediately I would have run to New York if needed.
I was outside Ted’s Mobil in Methuen, Massachusetts doing the 390 million plus Megamillions story for my station. I thought I might not be buying the winning ticket but I will be talking with Spike Lee almost as good.
I was thinking when he called I would get to know his personal phone number from caller ID but of course all it said was incoming. The voice on the other end introduced himself as Spike Lee and I immediately said “before we talk about business I want to ask you about the Celtics/Knicks game from last month?”
I ask him if he ever saw the video of the game and his answer was “you mean the night we got robbed?” I said you did not get robbed and he told me “Paul Pierce’s shot was made with .7 seconds left and the Knicks had .4 seconds left. I insisted they did not get robbed, they lost, then told him about the announces talking about him and his love of the Knicks but sort of poking fun at him.
He said “you mean Tommy Heinsohn or Cedric Maxwell? I said no it was a national game and they were not the announcers and he immediately said “it must be Van Gundy and company?” I told him I was not sure but they were all over the fact that his old friend who now played for the Celtics whose name I had to ask him by asking him who it was that went from the Knicks to the Celtics. He answered “Nate Robinson” and he was having a great night against the Knicks which I think the announcers were enjoying as the cameras played on Spike Lee. My last remark was “you got more face time than Jack Nicholson gets at Lakers’ games.”
What a thrill I got to talk about basketball with Spike Lee and even better the Celtics won that night. Of course I have been at a couple of Celtics’ winning championship games. The best one was in 1962 when Frank Selvy of the Lakers missed an 8 footer with the score tied at 100 and seconds ticking down, Bill Russell pulled down the rebound, went to his knees and held on till regulation time ended.
In that game the Lakers’ great Elgin Baylor fouled out in overtime. The Celtics starters ran over to the visiting bench to shake Baylor’s hand after he sat down and then the Celtics won the championship in the overtime.
I was at the Bruins Stanley Cup victory in 1970 when they beat St. Louis at Boston Garden sitting in my season ticket seats section 73 row C seat 3 or 4. I saw every game Bobby Orr played at Boston Garden including when he played with the Oshawa Generals as they would play a game or two every year in Boston. I gave up my seats after Orr left for the Chicago Blackhawks.
When the Bruins beat the Rangers for the Stanley Cup in 1972 I was at Logan Airport at the gate when the Bruins returned with the Cup in hand. Of course I messed the caption for the photo up by misidentifying the woman getting off the plane as Bobby Orr’s girlfriend Peggy who eventually became his wife. The young woman in the photo was one of the assistants in the Bruins office. I think I was more upset than the editors when they made the correction.
In the 1976 playoffs the Celtics beat Phoenix in the 5th game but it took three overtimes and the last overtime and the victory came at the end of the court where I was sitting. Celtics went on to win the Championship in seven games.
In 1975 I ran out onto the field as a still cameraman covering the game for the Herald American after Carleton Fisk hit his famous 12 inning 6th game of the World Series winning home run against the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. Fisk was waving it fair as he watched it going out of the park as he rounded first base.
In 1986 I was on the field for the Red Sox victory that sent them to the World Series against the Mets and outside Fenway Park after they lost the championship to the Mets in part due to Bill Buckner’s error when they came back home. It was 3: am or so and there was a fan yelling to Bob Stanley “you are the best!”
I sat in Red Auerbach’s box at a home game once with my good friend Alan Gorin as the paper’s sports editor Sam Cohen who was always there with Red saw us and invited us into two empty seats. No Red did not engage in a conversation with me other than saying hello.
And now I got to talk with Spike Lee, not bad!!!
Yesterday I worked 8:30 to 4:30. Finished up at Logan Airport shooting the display monitors showing cancelled flights south of Boston due to snow. Called home and said I would be home early for dinner.
Then the phone rang and I was asked if I could go to the Children’s Hospital to shoot a 5:pm presser with Boston Police and the family of a six year old who was the victim of a hit and run driver Saturday night in the Brighton section of Boston.
Arrive at Children’s Hospital, reception area full, had to double park where I was told. Ask by parking attendant if they could put my car in the garage, I said no as when I come out close to 5:30 I will need to get to my live shot. Did not wear layers of clothes as I was going inside.
Great presser, very sad about the hit and run 6 year old girl. Boston Police, her parents and doctor speaking. The parents quote “this was not some animal the driver hit but their little girl” was very dramatic. Jorge Quiroga (Channel Five reporter) took tape and ran down to where truck was. He did not know where it was at the time and neither did I.
Go out to get in car, no car. Attendant told me they were getting it. Stood there for 10 minutes, now 5:40. I told attendant that in 5 minutes I had to walk down to where the truck was and do a live shot and he told me the car should already be here and he checked. Very cold about 100 yard walk with tripod, camera, wrong hat and no gloves.
While I am waiting for the car for a few more minutes another attendant asked me for my coupon for payment. I tell him I have no clue what he is talking about. He says everyone else had one why didn’t I? I said because no one gave me one. He said you have to pay. I said I am not paying. I was very nice as he insisted. I told him he should contact whoever he has to because I was not paying.
Called the desk for help, standing out in cold and still waiting, I had 1 minute left before I would start walking. Attendant comes out with coupon but still no car.
I walked to truck, set up for live shot, Jorge said might be top of show then we are told 8 minutes in. Stood out there from 5:55, wrong hat, no gloves, Harvey Leonard the weatherman telling everyone there is going to be a lot of snow. I am freezing and we are 8 minutes in which felt like an hour. Finish live shot, walk back up, vehicle is there.
Have to go to bathroom, ask attendant if I can leave vehicle few more minutes, race in to where the lobby level men’s room is. Guess what, closed for cleaning. Ask where next one is, up one level down six corridors and found it. No paper towels use jeans.
Get home at 730, miss dinner with Debbie, cooked chicken not warm anymore, salad leftovers soggy, lousy night, should have said “no thank you.”
Over the last few months I have had three incidents of ESP or at least what I think is ESP. It started when I was sitting in the North End listening to the scanners and all of a sudden I thought of Jeffery Curley.
He was a young boy murdered by two male pedophiles in Cambridge in the 90s. Through the ordeal I became friends with his father Bob Curley. Bob was the mechanic for the Cambridge Fire Department.
Shortly after the thought I was called to come to the office in Needham, Massachusetts to pick up a reporter. As I left the North End I made a conscious decision to go to the office via Storrow Drive instead of hopping on the Pike. From where I was parked it was a coin toss for which way to Needham was fastest.
I would be getting off at the “Coke Plant” ramp which is now Guest Quarters Hotel. As I was getting off the ramp to get on the Pike, I saw a man jogging and it caught my attention, it was Bob Curley just taking the turn from Memorial Drive onto the Esplanade of Storrow Drive going east. I rolled down my window and yelled out “Hi Mr. Curley” he acknowledged me and I just kept driving shaking my head of what a coincidence.
A few weeks later while walking my dogs I got to thinking about the movie “The Thorn Birds” with Richard Chamberlain and the scene where Barbara Stanwyck orders him to shoot one of the dogs when it was too aggressive getting its dinner. Then I started to think, whatever happened to Dr. Kildare (Richard Chamberlain) from a show that was on in the 60s or 70s? I wondered if he was still alive.
Two days later Debbie (my wife) and I were watching “Brothers and Sisters” and who makes a guest appearance but Richard Chamberlain. Another case of ESP?
Earlier this month, I was searching for a Logan Airport photo which I am writing about and came across a photo from 1977. It was of a Chelsea ladder rescue where Lt. Joe VonHandorf rescued a 16 year old girl, made July 9th, the day before my 32nd birthday. I had not seen or thought of this photo for almost 30 years. I took the photo while working the midnight shift. I was driving to the fire on Broadway in Chelsea and I could see a ladder rescue on Cary Avenue in progress and got there in time to get some images.
Two days after seeing this photo, I was sent to Sherborn, Massachusetts to get real estate footage of the scene of an earlier accident. I could not figure out exactly where the tree was that was struck and on the roadway there was a Sherborn Police Cruiser. I pulled up next to it, rolled my window down as did the cop inside and asked which tree got hit.
He asked me who I was and I said “Stanley from Channel Five.” He then asks “Stanley Forman?” I said “yes.” He then said he has a story to tell me.
We both get out of our cars and when he said his name, Chris VanHandoff the bells started ringing in my head. Then he starts to tell me I photographed his father who was a Chelsea Firefighter. I interrupted him and told him about the photo and I had just looked at it the day before. He gave some details about his father and we both were amazed at the coincidence.
From the Chelsea Fire Department Union Book that year: On the back it says “Pulitzer prize winning photographer Stanley Forman caught this dramatic moment on July 9, 1977, at 59 Cary Ave, Fire LT. Joe VonHandorf rescues Miss Estelle Scott, 16, over the aerial of Ladder 1, over heavy smoke in her third floor apartment. (Box 34, 2 alarms, 3:30am)”.
I was also told he was five years old when the photo and rescue took place. At his father’s wake in 2005 a family friend came up to him, introduces herself and told him that his father had rescued her almost 30 years before. This was the young woman in the photo.
I am hoping to catch up with her and eventually do a story. What you think ESP, Coincidence Or Just Life?
January 6, 2011
The saga continues as this past weekend while dubbing VHS videos to DVDs from my children’s younger years I came across a Channel Five’s news broadcast of a fire in Chelsea from the mid 90s. As I am watching some of the videos as they are being dubbed there was an interview and interviewee was Lt. Joe VonHandorf.
I made a copy of the video for his son Chris and sent it off. This is the heart warming response I received today via email.
Between my Mom, sister, and I we’ve gotten so much positive feedback from your story. We can’t be any more appreciative. Also, I received your video.…it was pretty emotional for me. It was the first time my young sons had ever heard my Dad’s voice and had seen him in anything other than photos. It’s a gift I’ll pass along to them someday.…thank you. To kinda go hand and hand with your story, my dad’s six year anniversary is Tuesday the 11th. Coincidence or happened for a reason. –Chris
From my Facebook:
Chris Von My own personal opinion, from a cop’s perspective.…there is no such thing as a coincidence, things happen for a reason. I have always believed that and always will. Thanks for the story Stan, my Dad is smiling down.
It was in the late fifties and I was just coming into my teenage years and forever I will remember that day. My lifelong friend Alan Belinfante (owner of Beach Sales in Revere) and I were walking the Revere Beach Boulevard taking in all the sights and sounds on a warm summer’s day with the noise of the people and amusements drowning out our conversation.
We had just passed the MDC Police Station (now Revere Barracks of Massachusetts State Police) and were coming towards group of carnival-like booths; the Cyclone Roller Coaster was probably our destination.
There were rows of booths where people were trying to win prizes and a couple of real live 22 caliber rifle shooting galleries that were part of the scene. We slowed down to see how the shooters were doing. There was a row of 22 caliber rifles chained to the counter top to prevent anything other than shooting at the moving targets. I don’t know if there was a minimum age for use but I do know that I had shot those rifles many times.
Suddenly there was a scream and we saw a young girl falling to the ground a car length in front of us. There was blood flowing from her head wound and people were screaming and running every which way. The police were there in seconds and then the big MDC Cadillac ambulance showed up, scooped the little girl up and took off. This was before the days of EMTs and Paramedics who give instant care at a scene. An MDC Police Car escorted it and they left for Boston and Mass General Hospital.
Alan and I just started running the other way. We were not sure what happened till we read the newspaper accounts the next day. I know I did not tell my parents about being at the incident otherwise I would have been banned from the beach forever.
In the news stories that followed it was said the teenager boy who shot the girl said “I was with my girlfriend who was babysitting her sister and I was just trying to scare her to make her shut up.” she died later that day. He was tried for murder. I don’t remember the outcome of the trial. They came from Boston’s West End.
Not all my Revere Beach Memories are bad. As a child, my mother took my sister and I to the beach almost every day. We spent our summers on the beach and as a teenager, my friends and I hung there at night.
I used to play those carnival games and won two parakeets putting a dime on the number 60. I remember telling the friends I was with, “watch and I will show you how to win.” Next thing they knew I was running down the beach shirtless having taken my shirt off to protect the parakeets and bring them home where they lived for many years.
This Is What Alan Belinfante Remembers Of That Day.
Ok, we were on our bicycles, mine a Raleigh, used, you I think Schwinn. We stopped at the shooting gallery, you on one side straddling your bike, me on the other. The idea at the shooting gallery was to use the 22 cal. bullets to knock out a red star and Win $5.00.
The guns were supposed to be left unloaded until a patron tried their luck. Now, the unfortunate circumstances. A young teen age girl was babysitting a young family and took them to Revere Beach for the day. She ran into a teenage boy in the penny arcade and left with him and the children to stroll the boulevard.
Right outside the arcade was the shooting gallery. The rifles had a chain on the barrel for safety? His story in the aftermath of the tragedy was he pulled the trigger quickly at the target to make sure the rifle was empty (he did not actually pay for the shoot).”
Just trying to impress the girls. Then, he turned the gun at the group to scare them, actually aiming high in case (even though he said he tested before). The restriction of the safety chain only allowed for limited movement when turning the gun outside its normal range.
Unfortunately for that little girl, his aiming high and the safety chain was just enough to have the 22 cal. bullet hit her in the temple. A very small hole, as I remember, almost no blood and unfortunately no movement, she just dropped.
We did race our bikes to the MDC station, as we arrived they were already pouring out of the station. I don’t think we went back to the scene. We were close that day, I have thought about a little more chain or movement and it could have been one of us. Anyway, that’s how I always remembered that day.