MEETING THE MOB: A PARTY FOR THE GANGSTERS OF MEDIA – Garry Armstrong

MEETING THE MOB AT FLORIAN HALL

Once a year, we gather to catch up.  It’s time for the getting together and annual partaking of the M.O.B. party. It’s the Media Of Boston where everyone who used to be someone and more than a few people who still are someone, get together and remember news — the funny, the weird, the crazy, and the scary stuff they covered during Boston’s news history.

Garry and Harvey Leonard, famed meteorologist sharing old Dodger baseball memories

I usually don’t go to these things. Part of it is that we are out in the boonies and all these events are in Boston or Dorchester. It’s a long drive through heavy traffic. As a general rule, I can’t find my way anywhere anymore. I never really could, but now that we don’t live in or near the city, it’s worse.

Lots of pictures of “the old days”

Marilyn promised to come with me this year, acting as my ears (she just went around telling everyone to yell in my left ear and oddly, that worked), and as my navigator which mostly meant yelling out the directions from the GPS. It’s not loud enough. Almost nothing is loud enough.

Andy announced dinner about to be served!

In past years,  most of us were competitors at Boston’s major TV News Departments, radio stations, and newspapers. Unlike media elsewhere, we always had a sense of respect, camaraderie between us — even though we all chased the scoops in one of the most  competitive major news markets in the country.

Three guys hanging out!

Careers overlap the end of radio news dominance, the transition from film to electronic news gathering. Some of us began working with elders from the Murrow Boys’ days. Our careers included covering the assassinations of political and social legends,  the Vietnam War, volatile court ordered school busing and integration,  Anti-Nuclear Power demonstrations, Watergate, Three Mile Island and the AIDS epidemic. The end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st saw an explosion of news coverage to match events like 9/11 and beyond.

Birth twins! Garry with Delores Handy (Brown) – both born April 7th!

Many of those at our newsies gathering have put their lives on the line —  multiple times — in pursuit of the truth which is often ridiculed by some public officials.

Charlie and Irene Ballantine – caught off-guard at the table!

The faces are probably familiar to those who have turned to the Boston media for news coverage for the past half a century.  Critics who have questioned their ethics have faded from public view as new crises demand instant and intensive coverage 24/7.

Something to drink?

Some of these careers began with Dwight Eisenhower in the Oval House,  John F.Kennedy as the Junior Massachusetts Senator and Mayor Kevin Hagen White overseeing the transformation of Boston into a world-class city that would host celebrated Tall Ships festivals,  court ordered school integration and a mega-expensive architectural “do” known as “The Big Dig”.

Garry, Lester, and Harvey. Someone is really tall!

Those of a certain age will remember some of these faces as young reporters and photographers who spent the best years of their lives covering stories that are now archive material.

You may not know some of the faces.  Many are behind the cameras that bring you haunting images of the news that never stops. They are reporters who never get their due respect. They’re part of the reason that Boston News coverage is highly respected around the world.

Many of us were bright-eyed idealists when we began our Boston careers. The city and New England region are journalistic gold mines and have been well paved over the years by those seeking journalistic treasure.

You’re looking at many ink-stained wretches who’ve been recognized for their diligent work.  Pulitzer, Emmy and other prestigious awards dot the homes of many of these folks who have devoted their lives to finding the truth, a job that is harder than ever in today’s political climate.

Our stories get bigger with each passing year.  We remember the facts but, in many cases,  prefer to “print the legend”.  We tend to remember our gaffes, the “egg in our faces” stories that go with any lengthy career. We smile at the recollection of our youthful energy and pursuit of stories that would top the likes of Watergate.

Garry and Fred Ward sharing stories

Amid the laughter of shared adventures, we remember those colleagues we’ve lost in the past year. Their images linger in our collective and personal sense memories.

Most of all, we agree, bad times aside,  we’ve been lucky to have spent years pursuing one of the best jobs on the face of the earth.


NOTE: Marilyn took pictures. Not enough and not as good as they should be — but she says she had the wrong camera. And it was hard to get people to stay put long enough to get a good shot. Also, there were so many cameras everywhere (what a surprise! with all those camera people and there were a lot of cameras!), she figured there would plenty of pictures getting taken, even if she personally didn’t take them.

Author: Garry Armstrong

As a reporter for Channel 7 in Boston for 31 years, I was witness to most of the major events affecting the region. I met a lot of people ... politicians, actors, moguls, criminals and many regular folks caught up in extraordinary situations. Sometimes, I write about the people I've met and places I've been. Sometimes, I write about life, my family, my dogs and me. Or what might otherwise be called Life.

35 thoughts on “MEETING THE MOB: A PARTY FOR THE GANGSTERS OF MEDIA – Garry Armstrong”

    1. We actually had fun. I had to drag the old guy out of there because I knew if he got too tired, driving home was going to be a problem. He couldn’t hear much — but neither could anyone else. Everyone shouted all the time and we understood 1/4 of what was said. Maybe less. But BOY OH BOY were there a lot of hot cameras!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. “The Old Guy” had fun hanging with the ol’ farts. Hey, we usta to be household names on the little box back in those halcyon days.

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      1. Marilyn, I am so thankful to have you as my ears, eyes and brains. Golly, I was disoriented on the drive home. Guess I’m not in my prime anymore. It was a grand evening.

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    2. Covert, thank you. It was a terrific evening, catching up with friends who were part of my life for more than 30 years.
      The best part: Many friendships continue in our retirement years even though we gone down different roads.. That’s special!

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        1. They are predominantly online relationships these days. Partly it’s because people after retirement don’t stay in Boston (mostly). These get-togethers are the few times when everyone sees each other personally. Lots of laughing about balding, much sorrow about those that have died and those who are not doing well. It take someone with a good deal of energy to get these events moving and all I can do is applaud Andy and Richie who nagged and badgered and actually got us there. It wasn’t easy!

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          1. I imagine so, especially with the distances and health issues and commitments you all have to family. Still it looked like fun. I had to wonder what was going through Garry’s mind in one instant when he had his arms wrapped around himself in protection mode! ??

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                1. They had an odd relationship — and over the years, everything is different. Sometimes these “old colleague” memories are more than a little strange. They refer to people who don’t really exist anymore.

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    1. This is where Facebook really has a purpose. The “group” has an online “group” — not a formal thing, but it’s definitely a group. They share old stories and pictures and updates about who is doing what and where … and when/if there’s a get together. That was what I thought Facebook was supposed to be, but seems to have lost its way.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. We who have been fortunate enough to have met this man and his also very talented wife and have been aware when in the presence of greatness just have to share! Both extremely excellent at using the media to express the essence of whatever they’re calling your attention to and honor us! It just further proves such people Won’t just Fade away! I am very happy that I lived long enoughTo see and hear more from them and am proud to have been their colleagues and moreso, FRIENDS!

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