Once upon a time, we had a different life. Garry Armstrong was a household name in New England and I was not, but I got a paycheck anyhow. We did cool stuff and went cool places and I watched Garry every night on the news.
So I wondered if anything of those who-knows-how-many pieces of video could be found on the Internet today. I was just curious to see what, if anything of Garry’s 40 years of work in television was still “out there.” You can find anything on the internet, right?
The answer turned out to be “yes, you can” and “not much,” in that order. Not nothing, but nothing big. His résumé lives on LinkedIn. I hope I’ll be able to post his video resume later, but I need to put it into a format that my website recognizes.
I watched my husband on TV every night and it seemed perfectly ordinary. That’s what he did for a living and so did so many of our friends that I really didn’t think about it all that much. I had a ritual. As soon as I got in from work, I turned on the news. A tape lived in the VCR, so when Garry came on, I was ready. This was how he got to see how his stories really looked because he rarely saw the finished piece at work. He had barely enough time to finish cutting it.
He covered virtually every important event in the region for 31 years. I wish I had some of that to show you. Meanwhile, I have a little list:
1999 JFK Junior Memorial Coverage: Provided a wide variety of stories, features, retrospectives on a life cut short.
1999 Busing Retrospective: In the wake of the end of busing in Boston, a history of busing, the tragedy, the triumph, with commentary from many original – now adult – participants.
1998 The Nanny Trial: Did the British au pair slay the child in her charge? Only the nanny knows. Heavily involved for the full length of this very intriguing trial.
1998 Boston Garden, The End: Final day of the Old Garden before the wrecking ball eliminated it forever. A few mementos, but surprisingly few tears.
1997 The Hunt for Holly Piranen: Was a primary play in the hunt for lost 10-year old girl in western part of state, including the final, sad discovery of her body. The killer has never been found.
1995 Charlestown Dock Fire: Major conflagration with network feeds and affiliate coverage.
1993-94 President Clinton on Martha’s Vineyard: Pushed the limits of professional creativity to make the story newsworthy.
1993 Rome: Progress of the former Boston mayor’s metamorphosis into U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican. The real question: when will he return to run again?
1993 Boston Votes. Series of pre-election profiles of candidates and issues for the upcoming Boson Mayoral elections.
1991 Profiles, Alfred Eisenstadt and Lois Maillou Jones: Two Presidential Gold Medal in Art award winners, their lives and works.
1990 The Great Art Heist: Major art heist at Gardner Museum that remains unsolved through today.
1990 CBS’ mini-series “Common Ground” on the court-ordered desegregation in Boston in the mid 70s: Appeared on Boston Common, also variety of retrospective coverage.
1990 Full licensing of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant: Historical and breaking coverage of the event.
1990 South African Anglican Archbishop Tutu’s visit to USA and Mandela Release: One-on-one interviews, family, and local reaction pieces..
1989 Charles Stuart Murder Case: Followed story to its semi-conclusion. Appeared on Boston Common (CBS Sunday morning news magazine), representing TV news reportage in Boston.
1989 Queen Elizabeth II visit: It was fun to cover royalty.
1988 Boston Public Housing Integration
1988 Mashpee Pow-wow: Rare chance to see annual ritual and talk with Native Americans about variety of issues.
1988 Comic Aid: Robin Williams and Billy Crystal roasted me after I publicly mispronounced “Chutzpah”.
1987-88 Street Gangs: Assignment – Infiltrate Asian, Jamaican, Black gangs.
1987 Papal visit: From atop trash barrel in rainy South Boston, was blessed and cautioned not to fall.
1983-86 NAACP Conventions: New Orléans, Boston, Baltimore. Saw changes of old guard leadership. Difference in racial attitudes across country. Produced series and long form specials.
1980 Claus Von Bulow Trials
1980 Presidential campaign, Reagan-Carter: Memorable interview with Reagan who swapped baseball stories and movie anecdotes.
1978 Profiles/Obits: Sonny McDonough, and John McCormack
1978 Profiles: Jimmy Cagney and Ruth Gordon
1978 The Great Blizzard: Live reports from moving vans, devastated shoreline areas, ghost town cities, etc. Glad I lived in Boston.
1976-77 Investigative series, Suffolk City Medical Examiner: Coverage revealed undermanned staff and erroneous reports. Changes followed!
1976-77 Investigative series, Boston’s Emergency Medical Services: Coverage led to upgrade of system, better equipment for EMTs.
1976 Bi-Centennial/Tall Ships: Sailed up the Atlantic coast aboard Danish ship “Christian Radich.”
1975-78 SEABROOK anti-nuclear power protests: Coverage of major protests at the Plant site (Clamshell alliance). Two Emmy awards.
1975 Red Sox Pennant/World Series: Euphoria then despair. The town went crazy.
1976 The Great Chelsea Fire: On scene from beginning to end.
1974-76 Court-ordered desegregation, busing: Covering the story across the city and encountering frustration and rage from both sides. Despite numerous confrontations, contacts and friendships have been maintained over the years.
1974 John Wayne vs. Anti-war protesters: A personal favorite for this movie buff, did one-on-one interview with the Duke (the original) as he combated anti-Vietnam protesters while promoting new film.
1974 Minorities at West Point: One of first on-location series as “The Long Gray Line” comes into the 20th century and responds to civil rights advocates.
1974 Armstrong Unlimited series. First in region to do fantasy series, including sky diving, piloted commercial and private planes, rode as Suffolk Downs jockey, worked out with Red Sox.
1972-73 Walpole prison riots: Including interviews with Albert DiSalvo, the Boston Strangler.
1972-73 Delta plane crash, Logan Airport: Among first on the scene.
- Presidential campaign coverage.
You’d think that 31 years on the air would leave a lot of video hanging around in the ether, but most of Garry’s career took place before the Internet became so all-encompassing and accessible. The world hadn’t quite figured it out. Navigating it was complicated, browsers and websites not so sophisticated or user-friendly. There was no Facebook, no Google.
Nonetheless, I found on story from a noon news broadcast. Garry’s report shows up about at about 1 minute and 30 second into the news, so you can go there directly and skip the intros or watch from the top of the show:
That was a “live shot.” Now, I guess it’s an historic shot. Time passes. Nice to have a history to remember.