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: , , , , ,

30 replies

  1. Ya know ~ ~ ~ legends keep growing after we think they have come to an end. That interview will revive the legend, and there will be more to come!


    • Garry actually has a filming in Boston at the end of October. I knew it was important because he had to get a button sewn on his blazer and we are down to just ONE dry cleaner in town. No one dry cleans anymore I guess.

      Garry is ambitious, but he’s also tired. He worked long, hard years. I’m glad he’s getting some recognition, but he needs to remember that he can’t push it. These aren’t “the old days.” Unless you count our ages. Then, it really IS the old days πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  2. β€œShe asked if you were alive. Then she asked if you actually remembered what you used to do.”

    I guess those are not such odd questions to ask of old timers like us. I know how my wife would answer that first question about me. I’m not at all certain how she’d answer the second question.


  3. As I mentioned in a recent post about ‘journalism’ and ‘reporters’ and what passes for that in these days, I am grateful there are still a few around of your caliber Garry. You keep us ostriches updated by keeping Marilyn updated. Both of you are sterling people, and more ought to listen to your stories. That book thing isn’t a bad idea you know. You’ve already started the work and if it isn’t for monetary gain (which it ought to be in part IMHO) it seems like it would be rewarding. And there’d be a ‘hard copy’ record of all your stories. Younger people in your field should listen to you veterans of the news wars. You did the hard work so they could sit on their fannies and text ‘faux news’. That’s dismissing the minute segment of them that actually wants to report actual news. I’m sure those kind would be grateful for your pearls of wisdom!


    • Reporters still work very hard, but they are working for people who don’t care about news — just ratings. With few exceptions, no one goes into news planning to lie about it. Everyone intends to do their best. They do as well as the company they work for will allow, but Sinclair and Fox don’t really do “news.” They do “entertainment” but call it news, which it isn’t.

      You can’t be in the news business and just sit on your fanny. No one will pay you for that. You might not be doing what you want to do, what you were trained to do, or what you hoped you’d do, but you are working nonetheless. And the young people have a lot more to do than Garry did. They not only have to prepare news for broadcast, they also have to hit all the social media channels and write material for online use — which is a HUGE amount of work. These folks will be lucky if they survive to become mature broadcasters.

      It’s sad what has happened. Maybe something will change, but there doesn’t seem to be any momentum for change — so I can just hope we survive. Media has kept us from becoming a fascist state — but can it continue when half the news if nonsense? Good question and no answers.


  4. How cruel are the one’s we love. They know us too well sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ha ha….. such fun! Love how this conversation went on and how deflated you must have felt afterwards. This is what I call the British their self-deprecating attitude. Love it! Shall I give you a cuddle to make you feel more appreciated? LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m still hoping that we’re going to see a book one day Garry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Given the market for books these days, I tend to doubt it. I wouldn’t bother to write one either at this point. If I’m not getting paid, I’m not going to do all that work. And the market for books other than those “specified” by publishers is almost non-existent. The whole publishing industry is a mess. I don’t even know if it’s coming back.


    • Tas, I hear you. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Charming posr, Garry and Marilyn. I have though on occasion that the two of you must have had – and still have – fascinating dinner table conversations. You’re both articulate. Knowledgeable. Opinionated. Well-matched for each other. The kind of reporting done in the early 70s was the real deal, hardcore work – without benefit of digital recorders. I remember in J school then covering a Ralph Abernathy speech and struggling to quote him accurately. And Garry and that generation had to do that day-in day-out on deadline! Kudos for being the real-deal Garry and kudos to Marilyn for the light-hearted way you answered that phone call. Best, Babsje

    Liked by 2 people

    • We don’t have a lot of conversations anymore because Garry has so much trouble hearing. The only way we can talk is with no TV or music on, and no one else in the conversation. He has to completely focus. He mishears me a lot and doesn’t even know he did. That’s the hardest part for me to deal with — when he THINKS he heard me, but missed a word or two — and the sentence turns inside out. Unless Medicare starts to pay for hearing apparatus, I’m afraid it will just get worse — and there’s nothing we can do about it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Marilyn. That must be so frustrating for both Garry and you. I have only a little bit of a hearing issue that is made much worse because of mask wearing. I believe on them and always mask up but I can’t “hear” properly or I can’t see the other person’s lips moving when they talk. I don’t know if this link will be of any use, but apparently Medicare has some coverage for cochlear devices. Obviously I dont believe everything I read online, but worth checking out IMO: Good luck.


    • Babsje, thank you for the kind words. The journalism profession has changed so much – perhaps reflecting society changes. That phone call was a reminder. Thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Garry. You’re welcome. You are so right about the changes in the landscape. I took a long detour of around 25 years into IT (and motherhood ) before landing in B2B publishing. The old rules had certainly been “relaxed” if not entirely thrown out the window. I had to learn to bite my tongue about some things like the church-state separation. I interviewed new hires and one of my stock questions was about that. I would say 85% of the prospects had little clue. They were marketers not journalists at heart. Anyway congrats for being recognized for your knowledge and experience!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I have just sent a reply to a friend who was hoping things would soon be back to normal. I now have no idea what ‘normal’ is!
    Oh well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • None of us know what normal is anymore. The whole world has been so disrupted — and our lives have been so disordered — who knows anything? I just hope things get better than they are.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Andy, I have no idea of the new normal. I don’t think we are going back to the ‘old’ normal. The world has changed too much and most of us are grappling with those changes. That thought was probably shared by those who came before us.


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