News events WERE my world for more than 40 years, 31 years at Channel 7 in Boston, 3 years at ABC Network (New York), and 2 years in Hartford, Connecticut when I was making the jump from behind to in-front of the camera. Hard to resist this particular subject matter since it was my life for my entire career. Funny to think about. Once I left school, I was in the news biz and never left it until retirement.
Questions with (mostly) long answers:
What news event do you vividly remember and where were you?
World War 2 – I vaguely remember VE and VJ days. Lots of family excitement, radio blaring, newspapers with big headlines scattered on the floors, people outside cheering with lots of car horns blasting and my Mom telling me, “Your Daddy will be coming home soon” with tears in her eyes and a big smile lighting her face. I clearly recall one moment when there was a brief silence as everyone in the house stood to salute the big picture of FDR that occupied a prominent place on our living room wall. I think we were living in a Bronx tenement at the time.
#42 INTEGRATES MLB — I was just beginning my lifelong affair with baseball, beginning with the Brooklyn Dodgers. It was 1947. There was lots of talk about a young Negro player, Jackie Robinson, joining the Dodgers and “changing the game forever.” I remember animated conversation among family members — mostly men. Cigar and cigarette smoke filled the air as they shouted things. I was happy, excited, and a little nervous, I was just beginning to understand what was happening. We had recently moved to Jamaica, Queens and were living in our first real house. The Robinson story would dominate headlines, news and sports and I followed it closely. For me, it was riveting stuff as my five-year-old brain tried to absorb it all.
TRUMAN-DEWEY – I recall lots of arguments among family about Truman versus Dewey. Dewey was a familiar figure in the papers because of local (New York) political and crime stories that emblazoned out “bibles” such as The N.Y. Daily News, The N.Y. Daily Mirror, The Herald Tribune and — sometimes — The NY Times which I was told was for rich, white people. Truman was kind of like a folksy uncle in newsreels and on the radio. He and his daughter used to play the piano. “The Missouri Waltz” was their crowd pleaser. “He’s no FDR” – was something I heard a lot. When I went to bed, it appeared Tom Dewey (with that villainous mustache) was our new President. The next day, big surprise! At school, there was a lot of name calling with kids who had worn “Dewey” buttons getting razzed a lot.
KOREA — Details played on the radio as they would a few decades later with Vietnam and television. We were still cocooned in our innocence of heavily censored news reports. Radio reigned and TV was a colt just trying to stand on its own legs. We had only radio. It was fine. As a youngster, my imagination was filled with the images I received from the reports on the CBS Radio World News Roundup — Daily, morning, evening and late news — before being herded off to bed. There also was Edward R. Murrow, Lowell Thomas, Edward P. Morgan and other voices I would come to revere. They shared their thoughts after reporting the news. I recall the radio crackling with correspondent reports from Seoul, Bonn, Moscow, London and other far flung locales that one day would be in my workplace. No one ever called it a war on radio. That puzzled me.
IKE/NIXON – I always liked Ike because he looked like my maternal Gramps minus the Caribbean skin color and accent. Gramps always chuckled when I mentioned this to him. I remember seeing early TV news clips of Ike playing golf. He played golf a lot and always seemed to be pleasant with reporters. Vice President Nixon, on the other hand, didn’t seem to a pleasant man on TV. He seemed to force his smiles and reminded me of kids who didn’t make friends easily. Nixon regularly wiped sweat from his brow. Ike looked like Nixon’s benevolent father when they shared the political stage. One year — late 1955 — Vice President Nixon was on a campaigning. It took him through NYC, including a brief stop in Jamaica. I remember seeing him (I had a good spot in the crowd) up on the podium. He looked nervous and was tapping his toes. It was a nervous habit I’d see and sometimes use later in life — before he began speaking. Decades later, I would meet Richard Nixon, in the twilight of his career and life. I recalled for him that day in Jamaica in 1955 day. He smiled broadly. A warm and honest smile.
What is a Christmas song that makes you cringe?
Can’t think of any specifically, but I am NOT thrilled with modern hop/rap versions of Christmas songs in general. They are annoying at best. I think Mel Torme and Nat Cole would agree.
I have so many wonderful memories from my childhood days of innocence. Yes, I believed in Santa Claus. I never connected the bevy of goodies under our wonderful smelling Christmas tree with Mom and Dad’s magnificent efforts to keep the magic of Santa and Christmas alive for me and my two younger brothers.
It was Christmas, a wonderful time for a child with no worries except to clean up all the wrapping paper from gifts. I think I pouted a little about that job. Not for long, though. Christmas dinner smells were always wafting from the kitchen.
What is your least favorite holiday side dish?
Lima Beans. I hate ’em anytime of year.
(ADDED!) What are your favorite Christmas movies?
“It’s A Wonderful Life,” “A Christmas Story.” “Meet Me In St. Louis” (just to hear Judy Garland sing “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas”), “Remember The Night”, and so many, many more. No remakes here, please, unless it’s something from the Zucker Brothers or Mel Brooks. Can you imagine Mel’s take on “The Greatest Story Ever Told”?
“Joey, have you ever rode in a sleigh, nestled up close to Santa Claus”? As if it was from “Airplane (1980)” which is not a Christmas movie, but we just watched it. After all these years, it’s still funny. Marilyn says we saw it together while she was back from Israel on a visit. It was the last time I got carded for age at a movie theater. I was 38. Marilyn got carded at 54, but she points out she was wearing sunglasses.
Marilyn’s addition: What is one place you shop(ped prior to Covid) that might have surprised people?
Garry didn’t shop. He was busy and it was always work. He remembered to shop usually on Christmas Eve as everything was closing up. Those were the days before everything was open until midnight or even later. I once got a re-branded gift that was inscribed to one of his brothers and other times, whatever was left in the nearby shop that was still open. Actually, shopping isn’t a big thing for him unless it’s clothing. He’s a fantastic clothing shopper, both for himself and with others. Guess who Kaity wanted to go with her to pick out a prom dress? Not me. Garry. He’s got an eye for line and what is flattering — and what isn’t.