IS HE STILL ALIVE?

By Garry Armstrong

The phone rang and the caller ID flashed one of Boston two major newspapers. I figured it was the sales department. I handed the phone to Marilyn.

I heard Marilyn respond “yes” several times and was puzzled. We didn’t need and couldn’t afford expensive home delivery of newspapers. Then Marilyn said “He’s right here. Why don’t you speak to him?” She had a broad smile on her face. I was even more puzzled.

Long story short. The caller was a reporter working on a series about Boston schools and the 40th anniversary of court-ordered school desegregation. She was looking for people who had covered the story in 1974.

forced busing Boston

Photo: Associated Press

Apparently my name came up in her research. I confirmed I had indeed covered the story and shared a few anecdotes about the first day of what some called “forced busing”. I also shared some stories about my coverage of Boston schools over the following 25 plus years before I retired. To give some context, I mentioned that I’d also covered the civil rights movement for ABC Network before coming to Boston.

The reporter seemed impressed. We agreed to meet again for a more detailed interview. I hung up the phone and smiled. I looked at our four dogs seated around me and they understood. They were grinning at me. I could read their minds. He’s not just an old fart who feeds and plays with us. 

I looked at Marilyn with satisfaction. I wondered what she had said to the reporter when she took the call. Marilyn smiled and recounted the conversation. “She asked if you were alive. Then she asked if you actually remembered what you used to do. I bit my tongue and didn’t say ‘That’s a matter of opinion.'”

I looked back at the dogs. They were still grinning. How fleeting is fame.

40 thoughts on “IS HE STILL ALIVE?

  1. Ah–Sorry, Garry. Didn’t mean to leave you out. I’m assuming by the picture that it is Marilyn’s blog that you contribute to? Doing this on the fly, so if I’ve misinterpreted, please straighten me out…Judy

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  2. Thanks, Marilyn, for reading and liking my post today. Hope to see you again. I have an appt so only time to read one post, but I already know I’ll like your blog. A new follower! Judy

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  3. At end of day, it sure is nice to get a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T for one’s years of experience and knowledge base, ain’t it? We doddering old fools give out our doggie treats in a timely manner…one way of ensuring admiration and respect from at least the house kids.

    ’tis a good day when we’re sought out by youth. An even better day when one’s soul mate lies for them and doesn’t play the dementia card. ;D

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    • She reminds me of a high school student in a history class I subbed. The query was about my covering World War Two.

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  4. This was a delightful post Garry. I laughed out loud after reading your account of your dog’s mind reading abilities. I suppose any of us officially classified as seniors have a treasure trove of memories of things forgotten or things that are now obsolete. No more phonographs or tube radios or even crank up telephones on the wall. I know I want to be remembered as one of those dinosaurs that had principles and values that are now sadly obsolete.

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    • Hey, Bob. Part of the pleasure in writing this post is reaching folks like you who understand. In some ways, memories of 40 years ago are crystal clear while they are ancient history for today’s “journalists”.

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    • Thanks, Ruth. The sit down interview WILL prove interesting with my first person accounts versus the reporter’s archive studies.

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  5. How easily they forget.., until some young whipper snapper comes along and knocks on your coffin…, Blam, Blam, Blam.., Anybody in there??? Well you’re over due for your next 15 minutes of fame. Knock em dead dude!

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