Finally A Commencement I Wanted To Go To!

Hannah, Molly and Debbie

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.

Katie Couric

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.


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