I heard these lines recently in a movie. I laughed.

“Isn’t it too early to be drinking?” he said.
“No,” she said. ” I’m awake.”

The line stayed with me after the laughter faded, replaced by work memories.

As a reporter, I covered Presidential politics from 1962 to 2001. From JFK to Bush, Jr. As a newbie reporter, I saw veteran correspondents fueling up with multiple Bloody Marys as we began our day on the political or campaign trail. I was impressed.

During my rookie year, I summoned up enough courage to question one famous reporter who began his career working with Edward R. Murrow. He was on his third Bloody Mary in one 10-minute period.

“Isn’t it too early to be drinking?” I asked, slowly and politely. The veteran reporter who’d covered FDR, ย World War Two in the trenches and the McCarthy Hearings, among other assignments. He looked at me for a long moment, then finished his drink.

“Is it too early to be drinking?” he repeated my question and ordered another Bloody. “No, I’m awake!”

I shook my head in amazement and admiration. He was clearly fortifying himself for the day to come. It would be another long day on the road. Cold, dreary, and filled by interviews with people from pompous to angry to clueless when asked about election issues and the candidates.

I remember one fellow decked out in a hunting outfit, cradling a shotgun. He sneered when answering my questions. When finished, he said “Figures the media is not tellin’ the truth. A Negro askin’ me stuff about that Catholic in the White House. That’s what’s wrong with our country.”

The veteran reporter overheard the conversation and gave me a wry smile.


Years later, I shared the story with “Tip” O’Neill, Speaker of the House and a personal friend. He laughed so hard the bar seemed to shake. Then he looked angry for a moment, patting me on the shoulder with a huge sigh.

“Garry, here’s looking at you, kid!” The Political Legend smiled as we clinked glasses. “Some days, it’s never too early to start drinking,” O’Neill concluded. And ordered one more round.

I wonder about “eye-openers” for those covering this year’s Presidential race. In 2016, it’s never too early.

I want to thank Sue Vincentย at Daily Echo. She got Marilyn into this challenge, and by default, me too. It’s a good one and fun. Thanks Sue! I’m not going to nominate anyone because I’m not comfortable doing it. But please, if you like words and quotes, jump right in. You can hook to Sue Vincent or me — or one of Marilyn’s posts. Welcome one and all!


  1. Covert Novelist October 29, 2016 / 12:42 am

    I have to ask, is that you in the above picture? If so, I watched your interviews. omg Love it. Not to mention, your writing. You and your wife are so interesting and your topics well thought out. I enjoy that! So thank you, kind sir, for sharing your wisdom with the rest of us. I look for both of you daily. Your photos and your prose.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Marilyn Armstrong October 29, 2016 / 1:11 am

      Garry already is off to bed and I’m sure he’ll answer it the morning, but in short, yes. That’s Garry and that’s Tip O’Neill. And that was Garry’s brand new watch that he wore from that date for the next 30 years until it finally died of old age. He did have quite a career.


      • Covert Novelist October 29, 2016 / 1:28 am

        I’m not easily impressed, but I witnessed some of his interviews back in the day, and I remember him. I was taken completely by surprise. I live in Canada and in those days, and to some extent today (not during Stephen Harper’s reign) we covered news fairly and equitably. He cut the CBC’s funding and dismantled much if and when they didn’t follow his bidding. I’m not up to date on whether any funding has been reinstated since Trudeau took power. Having said that, it was during those early days that I saw your husband and witnessed a few at least of his interviews. I remember being very happy, somewhat surprised, but very delighted at seeing a “black” man, I hate that divisiveness a much as the other word, and that he had coverage and access. It has stayed with me until I saw his picture, which delighted and surprised me only in that I didn’t recognize his name (I’m horrific with names). I’m very honoured to make your acquaintance and his. Had to speak on this as it was such a delightful surprise. Talk to you soon.


        • Marilyn Armstrong October 29, 2016 / 2:02 am

          Garry and I have been either friends or a couple (depending on the year and other stuff) since we met in college in 1964. I knew him before TV, when we were both working at the college radio station. He was my first husband’s (now deceased) best friend and is my son’s godfather. He never married until we got hitched in 1990. I got married twice — was widowed once, divorced once. He was 48 and I was 43 when we finally stopped messing around and realized destiny was pointing us to the altar.

          He was a good reporter. A smart reporter with a very good understanding of history and how government really works. A disciplined voice of moderation in an immoderate world and industry. But his kind of reporting went out of style. Social media has changed everything and not in a good way.

          I keep trying to get him to write more about it. A lot of people, me included, wish he’d write a book, but I don’t think it will happen. He doesn’t want to work that hard anymore. I find it difficult to get him to write little posts for Serendipity. Anything requiring months of concentration is not happening. He served his time. He worked his butt off for more than 40 years, 31 of them at channel 7 in Boston. These days, he wants to watch the news, not be part of it. He is deeply grateful he is NOT working this election year and I don’t blame him. It’s a rough world out there.

          One of the ironies of our relationship is that though I knew he was on TV, I didn’t see him on air until I moved to Boston in 1987. Before that, I was either in NY or Israel. I suspect my knowing him as a person rather than a local celebrity contributed positively to the relationship.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Covert Novelist October 29, 2016 / 2:14 am

            What a wonderful life! Seriously loved that you shared that with me. You seem well paired. I understand his reluctance at spending major time on what he did for a living. Still, his writing strikes a chord. And I agree, media and journalism isn’t what it once was. No integrity, and the vote goes to the moneyed men (is that a word?) and they dictate what is and isn’t news. It frustrates me completely when I watch how the wind blows. It’s not my country, but I still am angered when I witness this and it’s happening world wide. argh! anyway, I’m thrilled for you both of you. Truly awesome!

            Liked by 1 person

    • Garry Armstrong October 29, 2016 / 1:17 pm

      Covert, that’s ME! A few decades ago when the world was a bit younger and a reporter could hang out with someone like “Tip” O’Neill. He was a genuinely nice guy and, oh, the stories he shared. Thanks for the kind words.


      • Covert Novelist October 29, 2016 / 1:36 pm

        Heartfelt! I remember you. I don’t know if that was a public picture, but I remember seeing you with “Tip” O’Neill. Not sure whether you can read what I wrote Marilyn, but it’s rather self explanatory. I’m exceedingly touched at heart to have met you, “in person” haha, I enjoyed the coverage I saw of you, which wasn’t much, but memorable and why I had to mention it. I always liked “Tip” O’Neill. He always seemed sincere and even rather vulnerable in some unnamed way.


  2. Sue Vincent October 29, 2016 / 4:27 am

    That’s a great quote, Garry, and a great story, though I dread to think about the drinking and driving that must also have been part of the day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Garry Armstrong October 29, 2016 / 1:18 pm

      WHAT drinking, Sue? I don’t know what you’re talking about.


  3. swo8 October 29, 2016 / 1:04 pm

    One for my baby and one more for the road?? I think those days are over. Great story Garry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Garry Armstrong October 29, 2016 / 1:19 pm

      Yes, Leslie, those days are long gone…at least for those of us still around to tell the stories.

      Liked by 1 person

      • swo8 October 29, 2016 / 1:26 pm

        I remember reading that Hemingway wrote most of his books in a drunken haze – as did F. Scott Fitzgerald. It was part of this thinking that you had to be a man to hold your liquor. Boy, what a sales pitch that was.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Garry Armstrong October 29, 2016 / 1:35 pm

          Leslie, I’m just old enough to remember a bit of that era. There are some wild stories. Perhaps another time.

          Liked by 1 person

              • swo8 October 29, 2016 / 2:06 pm

                You’ve got a great story to tell, Garry. You write it and I’ll buy it.


        • Marilyn Armstrong October 29, 2016 / 1:36 pm

          Those were the days when there wasn’t any stigma attached to drinking, even drunkenness, as long as you weren’t actually lying in the gutter clutching a bottle. Alcoholism is still very much with us, but at least the culture is less supportive of it. That probably helps get a few people into rehab.

          Liked by 1 person

          • swo8 October 29, 2016 / 1:41 pm

            I do think that things have taken a turn for the better in that regard.

            Liked by 2 people

  4. loisajay October 29, 2016 / 3:30 pm

    If you needed another excuse to drink: “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!” But, I guess, for some people–who needs a clock?


  5. dunelight October 29, 2016 / 7:11 pm

    The more you know and understand what’s going on the scarier things get. I once worked for a party but had to walk away as it was bad for my health. After 30 years I’m coming back to volunteer because certain things and people are exceedingly frightening. I may join you in a Bloody Mary every morning until Election Day.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Emilio Pasquale October 29, 2016 / 11:25 pm

    I love the quote, Garry. sadly, nowadays whether you cover the election for work or merely follow the election, it’s never too early to drink!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Marilyn Armstrong October 29, 2016 / 11:52 pm

    Depending on the outcome, there may be a lot more drinking going on in these here YOU Knighted States.


  8. evilsquirrel13 October 30, 2016 / 10:12 am

    I know people who hit the bar first thing in the morning. Of course, they’re graveyard shifters like me, but still, to the rest of the world, it’s quite early!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marilyn Armstrong October 30, 2016 / 12:12 pm

      Many people forget that a lot of people don’t work “standard” hours. When Garry was working, he never worked anything like “normal” daytime hours. I can’t remember him every doing a Monday through Friday day shift. Even if he had, it would have been a day-into-night shift. Everyone drank ALL the time. I mean everyone. Really ALL the time.


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