A long day including two long drives in the rain

It was a good day, but a long day. Actually, it felt like two, maybe three days. The early day when I actually had to find makeup that hadn’t dried up and become useless, trying to find something to wear that fits because I’ve now lost enough weight that things are just falling off — literally falling off and landing on the floor. I thought I skirt might work, but unless it’s a petite, my normal mid-calf length skirts are trailing me on the floor — and it’s raining. Again. All my pants are also too long. Everything is either falling off or trailing in the mud.

It felt like several days as the day arrived in waves. After we got organized, there was the first long drive. Almost two hours through heavy stop-and-go traffic while passing through some of the most amazing autumn trees I’ve ever seen. Between my last outing on Saturday and today, the trees turned glorious. Except, of course — it’s raining. Not only is it raining, but we have a nor’easter coming in tomorrow, so we are getting our own little local hurricane for the next two days followed by driving rain through next Sunday. Really? Seriously? Again?

Anyway, there we were in Charlestown, one of Boston’s oldest areas. It has the harbor in which the U.S.S. Constitution is moored and it’s hard to find anything because all the streets are one way. Twisty and narrow, too. Also, there’s some belief in Massachusetts that putting up street signs is a waste of precious funds. After all, if you don’t know where you are, why are you here? The GPS in the phone doesn’t understand the lack of road signs, so it says “Make a left onto Main Street,” but there’s no sign saying it’s Main Street, so the next thing it tells you is to go around the block to get back to where you were supposed to go. Our old GPS which was a real GPS had the decency to yell “TURN HERE” when you reached your junction.

As you might guess, my role in these drives is navigation.

Garry has no sense of direction. I have no sense of direction. If you put a paper bag over my head and turn me around twice and remove the bag, I won’t know where I am. Nonetheless, I’m the navigator. Which is pretty funny. My main advantage is that I can read a map (although no one makes really good road maps anymore). But this way, I can see the map on the phone and yell at Garry, “TURN HERE.” Like the old GPS used to do.

We got there a little late. I let Garry get out and went to find parking, which was easy. The hard part was finding a space that wasn’t taken, but there was one and I pulled into it. Then there was getting into the place they were shooting. It’s PBS show and Garry is one of the very few remaining reporters who was fully involved in the court-mandated busing in the 1970s. There are some photographers — all retired — but almost no other reporters.

With Producer

It was a very long interview. Hours. And he was trying to remember specifics of things that happened fifty years ago. I can’t remember details of events which happened more than 30 years ago much less fifty. Oh, there are things that stand out, but a lot of things are just gone. If reminded, I can dredge up a piece of memory and sometimes even a whole event if someone can get me started. Overall, though? If it wasn’t really important, I probably don’t remember it. Nonetheless, Garry’s job was to remember, smile, sound intelligent, not ramble. We get old. We ramble. It’s part of being old.

After the interview, it was already five and we still had an hour and a half drive home if traffic was good which it was unlikely to be since it was the middle of rush hour and it was Boston. Ugh.

The drive home was slow. I got a good look at the rain-soaked trees, read the message from National Grid warning of upcoming electrical outages, took a look at the weather. Got depressed because things were just beginning to dry out and now we are going to be sodden all over again. I was glad to turn off the telephone’s GPS because getting home was easy. No weird side streets to locate and we could park in our own driveway. Of course, I still had to make dinner, but first? Take off the nice clothing and go straight to nightgown and robe. Slippers. Warm socks. Oh, and the Duke, who was insanely glad to see us.

Duke ate. I made chicken and pasta and it’s lucky I can cook without thinking because by then, I was done thinking. I was hungry, but too tired to eat. I’m still too tired to eat, but there’s some apple crisp Owen and I made yesterday and I think I’m not too tired for that. Apple crisp slides down nice and easy.

Categories: #Work, Anecdote, Garry Armstrong, story

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36 replies

  1. I’m waiting to see too, Marilyn, give me the name and I will see it online. We also can see PBS on the TV.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Definitely an exhausting day, Marilyn. I hope it was eventful for Garry and he enjoyed it. That makes it all worthwhile.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’re both very eager to see how it comes out. There’s a lot of work still to be done on it. Lots of film editing. I think Garry feels a bit uneasy about being one of the only remaining, living, speaking people of the press from that era. He did very well considering how deep he had to go into memory and how much in the end he COULD remember — and how many things he preferred not to say for one reason or another. It’s one thing to talk to me at home in privacy. Quite another to say them on a national TV show.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Roberta, the most daunting part of the day was the drive INTO Boston because we were on a deadline.
      That scenario has ALWAYS played havoc with my nerves and my stomach. In my prime, it was usually mind over matter (?). But my prime was long ago and I’ve forgotten all those roads, streets and venues that were so familiar.

      Marilyn was most kind to drop me at our location and then drive on to find parking. I was concerned about her walking in the rain, navigating the rain slick street and stairs of the building. She made it like the pro she is.

      After we met the documentary producers, went over the shooting format and had time to “freshen up”, I began to relax a bit. I could still feel my stomach doing flip flops and I did breathing exercises as a very nice makeup woman did her work, did her work very well on the face of this old reporter.

      The lengthy interview was exhausting but fun as I had to clear cob webs from my brain to recall people and incidents from almost 50 years ago. I did this with the camera running and tried my best to make cohesive sense of that volatile period with so many conflicting story lines. I know I rambled a lot but that’s me trying to give complete perspective to every question. I was assured the interview, with all my rambling, gave the producers sufficient material for their documentary. I’ll believe it when I see the finished project.

      The drive home – in the rain and late afternoon rush hour – wasn’t as painful as we anticipated. I tried to maintain a steady pace with the traffic, ignored the idiots trying to cut in and out of lanes at high speeds in the heavy crunch of drivers. My contact lenses, worn infrequently these days, were beginning to dry up, blurring my vision a bit. I did some old eye exercises to self lubricate the lenses and that crisis was averted.

      By the time we pulled into our driveway, 6pm-ish, I was simply exhausted. My legs felt like lead and I was dizzy from all the energy exerted during the day. Later I felt a sore throat coming on, began to whine to Marilyn about “another damn cold or something” and realized it was simply my voice “pipes” exhausted from a long day of ‘performance’. Whining muted. It began an evening of slow and gradual unwinding.

      Binging my favorite show, “NCIS” helped me relax.

      In retrospect, a very long and challenging day.

      An encore thanks to Marilyn for getting me through everything.


  3. Love this, don’t really know why. Hope we’ll view his PBS show here in Florida. About north, south, east and west direction; the Atlantic Ocean is east, so opposite the ocean is west and north and south? Are easily figured out. Claudia

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it will be a national show, so when WE know it’s available, I will definitely announce it. Exactly when it will show up on anyone’s local PBS station is hard to know because each station is essentially independent. It’s one of the best things about PBS — that independence — but it does sometimes make finding a specific project a bit tricky. Station CAN carry it, but might choose to not carry it for whatever reason. But since this make Boston look bad, most places will happily carry it, including Boston because after all, it happened here.


    • Claudia, I hope the show turns out well. I’m already wondering how folks who lived through that tumultuous era will react. I tried to put a little “polish” on those folks who opposed the court order, pushed racial discord and tried to vilify the media. But the producers urged me to put diplomacy aside, use the racial epithets and threats I encountered and “Just give them the facts”. I did but it was a bit queasy for me. It was like swimming with the sharks again.

      Directions: I’m hopeless.

      The lousy weather: It is what it is.

      I still have some residual weariness from the long day’s journey into night.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Amen. Boring but not crazy and self-serving.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was a tricky thing for Garry, too. Being the only reporter left standing and willing to do it, he was still wary of stepping on too many toes. Even if the original people are gone, they still have family who might have their own versions of what happened. He was trying to be truthful, not start a fight. Despite all the years that have passed — 47 years — it’s still a hot topic. AND as to whether or not busing really did what it was supposed to, that too is still highly controversial. I’m not sure what else they could have tried, but did it do what was intended? I’m not sure anyone knows.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marilyn, you nailed my dilemma. Of course, you did. That’s why I tried, vainly, to include the legacy of busing. It was clearly a mixed success/failure. It opened doors of conversation, shed light on all the old prejudices and, ultimately, exposed some of the people who fanned the fames of racial hatred simply for political gain.
        Ultimately, sadly, a generation lost their chances for quality education and the foundation for a better future. I heard many a young adult, holding their own child, lament the direct and collateral damage attached to that court-mandated order.


    • AMEN and thank you, Life.


  5. I realise I’ve been off your blog for too long as I have no idea what the fancy dress do was about you witnessed here. But I shall get there – you just wait and see 😉
    Garry looks super dapper in his Sunday best – and I’m absolutely sure he didn’t ramble too much. Had to smile – as your new old president does ramble a lot – but so he may, he’s got the age where rambling is OK (if not appreciated from a leader of a country!). In my opinion he can do nearly everything he likes. He’s such a refreshing change to the other ol’ orange head.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Biden does ramble, but he’s Garry’s age and rambling is part of the “hey, I’m an old guy” package. There’s nothing mean about Biden. He is always trying to be a nice guy which may be part of his problem since no one seems to recognize “niceness” as something of value. I think it’s VERY important. If everyone could just be nice to each other, a LOT of our problems might disappear.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Kiki, thanks for the kind words.
      I believe I’m a year or two older than our current President so, yes, there is some rambling when trying to recall specific/accurate incidents and details from almost 50 years ago. You know your thoughts are recorded for posterity for all to see and lend their own version of the truth.

      I guess it goes with the job – even though I’ve been retired for 20 years now.

      Thanks, again.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I always have the energy for apple crisp.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Us too. We knocked off another chunk of it last night. I like it better than pie since to me, crust is a waste of energy. The only crust I really like was made by a Scottish bakery we used to go to when we were on vacation where they made crusts from shortbread. The crusts were like big cookies.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Geoff, that apple crisp was the highlight of yesterday’s long day.


  7. What an entertaining description of your day. What will the name of the program be and when will it air? I want to be sure to see it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Me too. Of course I won’t be able to see it on TV but maybe it will be on YouTube eventually.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Life, we have no idea, at this point, of when the completed doc will air. I’ll be making inquiries.

      I’m guessing it may be part of the PBS “American Experience” series. But that is just my guess, nothing more solid.

      Stay tuned for updates.


      • Thanks, Garry. Was it fun suiting up again?

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think Garry like getting dressed, but he hates getting dressed too. He likes looking good and he’s very fussy about clothing — when he’s going on the air. At home? Sweat pants and elastic. He actually had to have the jacket cleaned because it had a missing button. They won’t put the button on without cleaning it.

          His problem with getting dressed is The Dog Hair. Duke’s hair is everywhere. I’ve taken new clothing out of a plastic package in in five minutes, it’s covered with white dog hair. Fortunately, they had people there to clean up the hair so Garry didn’t have to wear the Duke on TV.

          I think he has mixed feeling about it. Really, so do I because I don’t have much clothing fancier than jeans and I never know if it still fits. Right now, everything is too big, but next year, the same clothing might be too small.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Life, yes it was fun “suiting up” again. I even got that perfect knot in my tie (Ties have become dormant in retirement). I even had my shoes/boots shined up USMC bright. I went with the dress boots because of the lousy weather. Biggest dress problem: getting my contacts in. I don’t use them often anymore. It took several tries to get them in.

          It was even more fun getting out of my dress clothing at day’s end. I could really breathe easily again.


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