The phone rang. The caller ID flashed, showing one of Boston’s 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 history 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 the Duke who was sitting next to me. He was grinning and obviously understood. I could read his mind. He’s not just any old fart who feeds and plays with me. He’s a legend. 

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 Duke. He was still grinning. How fleeting is fame.

Categories: American history, Anecdote, Boston, Garry Armstrong, Humor, Work

Tags: , , , , ,

18 replies

  1. Excellent stuff! I’m grinning too now…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s very cool that they considered you a quotable and reliable source, years later. It makes sense to talk to those who were there, covering a situation in real time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Garry you have lived and seen a lot in your day. You also come from the professional end of it. What a wonderful opportunity.
    Leslie xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Our pasts keep coming back. Some of it is fun to repeat.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed, Patricia, as your wonderful posts about old Hollywood always remind me. BTW: I just finished Dobe Carey’s terrific autobiography. I thought of you often as Dobe recounted events of his childhood which you’ve already shared with me.,

      I just started “The Lion of Hollywood”. Louie B. Mayer. Already a different texture from Dobe Carey.
      Do you have any personal/first hand Mayer memories?


      • I don’t remember anything much about Mayer, probably because I was more interested in the actors than the administration. My father worked for MGM for many years, both in California and New York, but I don’t remember his talking much about Mayer outside of any general gossip.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Patricia, thank you. Scott Eyman is the author. I’m still in LB’s early years which are very fascinating. I’ve read lots about Mayer. It’ll be interesting to see how this one compares.


  5. That’s an interesting concept to interview the reporters who covered a big story — I hadn’t thought of it, but I imagine it adds a lot to interviews with those actually involved in the story itself!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Slmret, it’s a device used often. I always enjoyed when veterans like Eric Sevareid, Howard K. Smith, Ed Murrow and other notable journalists were interviewed for their memories of events like WW2, The Great Depression, The McCarthy Blacklist, etc. They gave first hand credence to things we only knew — second hand –through old newspapers, books and movies.

      I certainly don’t put myself in the class of those legendary folks. However, it was interesting to be sought as “the old timer” for his recollections of major (Dark) events in Massachusetts and the nation. The memories were often vivid and sharp right down to volatile exchanges between people. I also was able to clarify some mistakes in information the reporter had from her newspaper. That felt GOOD!


  6. That’s an interesting concept to interview the reporters who covered a big story — I hadn’t thought of it, but I imagine it adds a lot to interviews with those actually involved in the story itself!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. lol! That was a bit cheeky!

    Liked by 1 person

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