NEWS NEWS AND MORE NEWS I am going to get all of my memories down, before I forget what I remember!. . . . quote from Stanley Forman

28Mar/122

Fenway 100, Stanley 66

July 10, 2011, 66 years old

Yes, there it is my name is up in lights, daylights that is and don't think I don't love it.

I have always been a Red Sox fan. I probably went to my first game before I started remembering all that I remember. My father was a big sports fan and it trickled down to me. He used to love to go to Bruins and Red Sox games. The Celtics came to Boston long after he was a teenager so he did not see as many of those games. I remember him taking me to afternoon Celtics game; coming home and then he would take my mother and go back to the Garden to see the Bruins at night. Since he worked most weekends, it was a big deal if he was off on a Sunday. My parents especially liked when the Montreal Canadians were playing as the fans would sing French songs and the Garden would be in a festive mood.

We grew up with family all around our neighborhood and my Uncle Jack Burnim, a real Red Sox fan, would go to a Sox game every chance he had and many times offered to take me with him. The only problem with going with him is if you were with him you had to eat a hot dog almost every inning and lots of popcorn too (to mix in all the Fenway tastes). To hear his grandson, Judge David Lowy, tell the story, after a while it became torture to eat so much junk food.

Jack took us to many games; one being the Memorial Day game against the Yankees in 1961, the year Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s home run record. I just Googled the box score and although I remembered all the home runs by Mantle and Maris I did not remember Bill "Moose" Skowrun’s 2 homers along with Yogi Berra hitting one that day. Mantle had 2 home runs that game, his #12 and 13 of the still-early season, and Maris hit 2 home runs, bringing his total so-far to 11. Both were well on their way to challenge Ruth’s record of 60 home runs in one season.   Since that season, my standard for judging whether someone was going to break Babe Ruth’s years’ record of 60 in a season has been if the person has reached 11 or 13 homers by Memorial Day like Mantle and Maris did that year.

When I think about how mesmerized I was by Mark McGuire’s quest to break Maris’ record only to find out it was tainted; it still pisses me off. Such a big deal breaking it, but really not a big deal. That is what asterisks are for. I think most people in 1961 were rooting for Mickey Mantle to beat out Maris for Ruth’s record but an injury late in the season took him out of the running.  According to the movie “61” about the chase, Mantle was rooting for Maris to pull the feat off anyway.

Going to Fenway Park was an easy task when you grew up in Revere. When there was nothing to do you could always hop on the train at Revere Beach Station, ride to Government Center (it was called Scollay Square back then) transfer or walk to get to Park Street Station and then get the trolley to Kenmore Square. You had to make sure you got the right trolley otherwise you ended up in never, never land somewhere off of Huntington Avenue and no one from Revere would know where they were.

Of course you probably would not have walked from Scollay Square, as it would have been another fee of a nickel to get back on a train at a different stop. Those trolleys were great back then; you would rock and roll all the way there. The old cars were shaky, crowded and not air-conditioned. Can you imagine a non air-conditioned train after spending the day in the hot sun at Fenway, not fun! After a day game we would go to the Kenmore Hotel to the little ice cream parlor and get a delicious Sundae (and I mean delicious) costing a quarter.

Any night a crew of us hanging around in the 50s and 60s could go to Fenway watch Dick Raddatz mow them down along with the other 10,000 people who may be in attendance. Jim Piersal, a long time Red Sox center fielder, visited our local grocery store, Arthur’s Creamery, while endorsing a chocolate drink and, yes, I got his autograph.

Tom Yawkey was probably the only reason the Red Sox stayed in Boston with the small crowds in attendance. It all changed in 1967, the “Impossible Dream Year” when sellouts became normal business. Back then, there were no playoffs, you were the best team in baseball in your league or you ended your season when the season ended. With the two number one teams playing the World Series you got the best of the best, at least supposedly.

Dick Williams showed up as manager in 1967 and things just came together. I did not cover any of the games as a photographer but I had a press pass and could go to any game I wanted and sit in the photographer’s box. I did not take as much advantage of the perk as I should have. This was before the photographer’s box next to their dugout. Everything was shot from above or you floated around looking for an aisle seat. A big treat going to a game with the press pass was to be able to eat in the press lunchroom, where there was delicious food and it was free. A tip of $1.00 was the standard and where could you eat as much as you want of good food for a buck.

The weekend the Red Sox won the pennant in 1967 everyone was working. I was in the lab at the paper. We were playing the Minnesota Twins and had to win both Saturday and Sunday’s game while one of the other teams in the league lost. I was very busy with many rolls of film being shipped in to make our many editions. Then it was over, the Sox won and John Landers had a great photo of Jim Lonborg being carried off the field on his teammate’s shoulders after beating the great pitcher Dean Chance in what you could call a non-playoff, playoff game, winner take all.

I went with photographer Kevin Cole to St. Louis for the World Series that year. I never got to the park as I worked out of the St. Louis Post Dispatch doing all of Kevin’s lab work and transmitting over 60 photos back to Boston to be used in our editions. Kevin did his usual great job catching all the action.

Earlier in the season Lonborg got engaged and the hunt for his fiancé was on and I was on the chase. There I was at Fenway Park looking for his fiancé, not knowing where to look, all of a sudden a car pulls up by the player’s entrance, Lonborg gets out of the car and she was driving. Very graciously, she held up her hand to display her ring. I probably yelled out asking her to hold up her hand, thankfully I knew which hand the ring was on and if you were driving the left hand is on the window side. Lonborg did not marry this woman, and went on to be a South Shore area dentist. I have never seen him again in person.

Ken "Hawk" Harrelson throwing his cast away, St. Elizabeth's Hospital

When Ken “Hawk” Harrelson (now the Chicago White Sox announcer) had his cast removed from leg injury I was at Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital and asked him to throw the cast away for the camera. He was a very media savvy athlete. Harrelson came to the Red Sox during their Pennant drive to replace the injured Tony Conigliaro.

Carl Yasttrzemski, Tony Conigliaro, Hank Aaron, opening day 1976

In the Conigliaro era there was always something going on. Whatever he did we did. There was the night he got into a car accident in Somerville and was taken to the hospital. Then I was covering his younger brother Richie playing football for Swampscott High School and the whole Conigliaro family was there. I was assigned to show everyone. I was taking some photos of the family and Tony came playfully charging at me like he was going to tackle me. Of course, I wasn’t sure whether or not he would throw me to the ground so I moved out of the way. I met his brother Billy several times as he was in high school with a friend of mine from Swampscott, Susan Feldman.

Jim Willoughby, Rick Wise, Juan Beniquez, Doug Griffin, Fred Lynn, Dick Drago, Reggie Cleveland, Dick Pole, Johnny Pesky, Denny Doyle, Carl Yastrzemski, Dwight Evans, Bob Montgomery, Rico Petrocelli Might have been 1975, start of World Series?

In 1975, when Carleton Fisk hit is game winning home run against Cincinnati in the World Series I was in the photographer’s box shooting color film watching Fisk waving his home run ball fair. I ran out on the field with everyone else and it was fun. Still haven’t found those slides.

Oops! Danielle Torrez, with scorecard in hand knows the Red Sox season is over after her husband Mike gave up a 3 run homer to Bucky Dent!

Bucky Dent hits his game winning 3 run homer and I was the floater for the one game playoff with the Yankees in 1978. I was walking around trying to get “different photos” for the later editions. I was behind the home plate screen taking photos of Mike Torrez pitching and keeping an eye on his wife Danielle who also behind the backstop.  Dent came up to the plate and hit his blast and the Red Sox season was over. Danielle knew it also and I had this really good photo of her expression, which got a one column cut in the paper. The front-page headline the next day was this very, very, very small type, which said “Red Sox Lose” and you were not a baseball fan you would not have noticed. Sam Cohen our great sports editor always had great ideas to be different.

Of course there was Bill Lee, Red Sox pitcher; talk about someone who danced to his own drummer!  Must have been a Wednesday night when he walked off the team or something like that as I was working and I was dispatched to his Belmont home to get a shot of him. I was in front of his house when he came jogging up the street. I stood there and took some photos of him arriving, followed him down the driveway and of course he knew I was taking his photo as he acknowledged my presence. Next week I heard from Jerry Buckley the Red Sox photographer back then that Lee had said he was stalked and I came out behind the bushes to get his photo. Two sides to a story, he was dancing as far as I was concerned.

When Oil Can Boyd (a Red Sox pitcher) flipped his lid so to speak reporter Ron Gollobin and I were sent to his Chelsea apartment trying to seek him out for whatever he wanted to say. It did not go to well. He came out the door, spotted us and took steps towards us. He was yelling at me flaying his arms and Gollobin stepped between us. He created a real photo opp. In that same era while honeymooning in Hawaii I bumped into the very friendly Dwight Evans and his wife vacationing there.

There were many sidebars through my years of Red Sox coverage. There were the 4 people murdered at Sammy White’s Bowling Alley, September 22, 1980 in Brighton. The former Red Sox catcher owned the alley. I was outside when the police investigation was taking place and got a photo of a distraught relative waiting for word from the Boston Police.

In 1986, Red Sox vs. the Mets for the World Series, everyone was excited.  I was with reporter Susan Wornick, Neil Ungerlieder (now head of our internet site, “thebostonchannel.com) and Channel Five Berraneck Fellow, Rebecca Rowlings. We were doing a story about the prostitutes doing business in Boston. We pulled over on Washington Street near the former Wang Theatre to watch the end of the game, as my company car was equipped with a TV.

Neil who is a very big Red Sox fan commented, “the Red Sox are going to win a World Series!” We were very intent watching; knowing if they won our story would change to local celebrations. Then it happened, Bill Buckner missed the grounder to first in the tenth inning after the Red Sox were up 3 to 2 in games and everything unfolded. It was over, and all that was left was the Red Sox to try and recover the next night. We all know what happened after that, it took 18 more years to finally win a World Series bringing the total up to 86 years between championships.

I was at Fenway Park when the Red Sox came home in the early morning hours. In those days we were a welcome sight to the players and had good access to the bus and the players. Pitcher Bob “Steamer” Stanley one of the nicest athletics you could ever meet got off the bus and there was a fan yelling, “Bob you’re the best!” It was just after the ongoing controversy of whether he threw a wild pitch or the catcher Rich Gedman had a passed ball. Most think it was a passed ball but he took the hit graciously. A little name-dropping here, his daughter Kristin worked at Channel Five as a producer and I went to her wedding in 2010.

After that there was the time reporter Jack Harper and I went into the Red Sox dressing room, before yellow tape, when all you needed to do was show up at Fenway show your Fenway Pass and walk around including the locker room. We walked in and there were a couple of players sitting there (must have been after the “86” loss) including Jim Rice. Everyone knew Mr. Rice did not like the media back then. If looks could kill Jack and I would not be here now.

Red Sox World Series Parade, 2004, 86 years after the last one.

Today, I do very little Red Sox coverage although I was there in the 90s after they won the Pennant by beating the Angels in the playoffs, ran out on the field with everyone else to the pitcher’s mound for the celebration and got excellent video. I covered the local celebrations after they won the Series in 04 and 07 and hope they do it again while I am still working.

Johnny Damon, Molly and Hannah, great Christmas card, 2004

But my highlight of Fenway will always be getting my birthday wish up on the bleacher screen unless I ever get to throw out the first pitch and make a fool out of myself when I cannot reach the plate.

 

20Jun/111

Lord Stanley, The Bruins And The Stanley Cup

Bruins Captain holds up the Cup for all to see during the Rolling Rally.

It took almost 45 years but I got to cover the Boston Bruins winning the Stanley Cup for the third time. There was almost 40 years in between the 2nd and 3rd championships; the first two happened when I was an avid fan and season ticket holder.  I saw every game Bobby Orr played at Boston Garden and even drove down to watch the Bruins and the Rangers play in New York back in the days when hockey was very important to me.

The morning after the win was fun, got called into work early to go to Logan Airport for the team’s return from Vancouver and thought I might get to see them getting off the plane for their bus ride back to the Garden.  Not to be, everything was secretive and the news crews were not sure which gate the bus would come off the tarmac through and they fooled us all as they went out an opening none of us realized would be used. Beat before I could even get into 2nd gear.

From Logan I went to Causeway Street and thinking the way I did 40 years ago I forgot the bus would pull into the front parking lot and we could see them getting into their cars and maybe even get to talk with them. I had thought they would drive into the Garden like they used to, inside via the long ramp in the back of the building and flee the news hounds. I guess sometimes I do live in the past. Had I known the great access we were going to have I would have gone a little faster and skipped the pit stop I made before I got there. When I did get there and realized what was going on I ran through the traffic to be where the action was.

The first player I spotted was Zdeno Chara, the big football player size defenseman, who was in the back seat of a limo but the guest with him was what made me take notice. He had the Stanley Cup sitting next to him and was the first of the players to take it home.  He is the Captain so I guess he might decide who is first or maybe it is an automatic. After I tapped on his car window several times to see if he would open it for me I realized it just was not going to happen so I moved on to the bigger group which was slowly becoming smaller and smaller and only a few of the players were still there. I did stick my mic in one of the car windows but I don’t even know who it was being interviewed.

From there the day got better. Mike Dowling, a WCVB sports reporter, caught up with me and we went looking for the Bruins players who lived in the North End with no clue where that might be. This venture only lasted a few minutes as we got word we were going to interview Kevin and Lynn Marchand the parents of Brad, the Bruins star rookie who had three points in the 7th and deciding game and may have been one of the finalists for MVP.

Talk about a class act. They walked down to the Garden from Brad’s apartment and talked to us for quite awhile giving some insight into their wonderful adventure chasing the Stanley Cup with their son Brad. What fun. His father had gone to 20 playoff games and his mother only 16. They told us she was banned from the games after she attended two losing games. When they lost a game she wasn’t at she was then allowed to continue the run. Mike Dowling told me another parent of one of the players also suffered the same fate after she was at a couple of losing games. Superstition is superstition and being a lottery player I know what that word means.

Mrs. Marchand went on to tell us how she really disliked his beard and hoped he would be shaving it ASAP. They joked about what a mess his apartment was and she was hoping he would get someone to keep it clean. They also talked about their other athletic son and two daughters even letting us know Brad’s younger brother was a faster skater and tougher on the ice.

But the real fun began a few hours later when we found out the Cup was being wheeled down Commercial Street in the North End to Tia’s restaurant on the waterfront where many of the team would meet for cocktails. It was very crowded at the outside bar with patrons snapping photos or just gawking when they realized the stars of the day and the Stanley Cup were in plain view for everyone to see and all had their cell phones clicking away with some of the people manning real cameras. I showed one of the waitresses how to use the zoom on her newly bought IPad and made her day.

What a thrill to see today’s “heroes” out mixing with the regulars and enjoying every moment of it. I could have recited every player’s name in the NHL back in the 60s and 70s but to tell the truth today I have not a clue who is who. This year I watched all the playoff games and the players on the Bruins did not shave during the playoffs and all had playoff beards. It threw me for a loop on Thursday as they had almost all clipped their beards when I saw them and I had figure out who is who. I have not figured it out yet.

These players had muscles on muscles, 6 pack abs that people would die for and if I were to try to get them I probably would die. I don’t think the athletes of today are better athletes than those of the long gone era but they certainly are stronger and have more muscle. Then there is the tattoos; or as the kids call them “ink”. The only ink on my era’s athletes would have been from a leaking pen after signing an autograph.

My first rally was after the Celtics won one of their 18 championships and Boston finally honored them with a parade in the 60s. They were in convertibles driving through the Park Square area. I was so mesmerized by the John Havlicek’s beautiful wife Beth, (what a hottie and that word was not even invented back then) I don’t think I shot anything but photos of her.

On City Hall Plaza in the 80s there was another Celtics rally and Larry Bird told the tens of thousands, “Moses eats shit,” referring to Moses Malone after the Celtics beat the Houston Rockets. Did that set off a pound or two of letters and phone calls!

Bruins Locker Room, 1969, Bobby Orr and teammates the Year before they won the Stanley Cup. See other Bruins story in blogs.

After one of the Bruins championships in the 70s, Phil Esposito had surgery at MGH and the Bruins were having their breakup dinner at a nearby restaurant.  There was no way Phil wasn’t going to be there so some of his team members pushed his hospital bed with him in it to the restaurant. The story goes they broke the frame to a door or two getting out of the hospital and he was still hooked up to IVs. With that team the whole story could be true.

For their first Cup win at Boston Garden my seats section 73, seats 3 and 4 gave me a great view of Bobby Orr's overtime goal and in 1972 I was at Logan Airport when the Bruins returned with the Stanley Cup after beating the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. We were allowed up to the exit ramp and I was taking photos of everybody when Bobby Orr appeared walking with a young woman, (he handed the young woman I was with a bottle of champagne from the celebration) I mistakenly identified as his girlfriend  Peggy, his future wife, WRONG! The next day I was scrambling to figure out who she was. I went to Wellesley and knocked on the State Treasurer Bob Crane’s door with photo in hand to find out who she was and of course Bob knew it was a secretary from the Bruins’ office. He was buddies with Orr and knew all about the team.

Who can forget the Bruins first Stanley Cup Championship rally on Boston’s City Hall Plaza when Johnny “Pie” Mackenzie poured a pitcher of beer over Mayor Kevin White’s head and then the Mayor returned the deed after they won their 2nd cup in 1972.

In 1975 after Carleton Fisk hit his famous home run against the Cincinnati Reds I ran out on the field with all the other photographers as I was covering the game. In 1986 there I was again running out to home plate after the Red Sox beat the Angels in 1986 to go to the World Series.

Who can forget the 2004 Red Sox pre-rolling rally event at Fenway Park when I chose to not work and take my girls to the parade. We walked up to the gate at Fenway on a whim and there was a Boston Cop I have known forever at the door. A few moments later, we were inside enjoying the festivities, running on the field as the Duck Boats loaded. Our Christmas picture that year was my girls with Johnny Damon.

My scariest moment in sports came in January 1986 when the Patriots beat Miami for the right to face the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl. I was dispatched to Green Airport in Rhode Island for a 2am arrival of the team. Works out there must have been 10,000 people who also wanted to greet them.  We were somehow in the middle of the tarmac after the plane landed waiting for the players to come down the walkway. All of a sudden these 10,000 people broke through whatever police lines were there and came charging out to the plane. I was with Jim Reddy a technician at the station who was sent with me to help. They came rushing, I thought it was over, Jim grabbed me and put this big bear hug on me and we just stood in the middle like a street pole and thankfully the crowd went around us. I bet $50.00 on the game and I think the Patriots lost by almost 50 points.

In 1986 after the Red Sox lost to the Mets in one of the games after the controversy that stemmed between a pitch by Bob Stanley being a wild pitch or it being a passed ball by catcher Rich Gedman, I was at Fenway when the heart broken team arrived home I heard one of the followers yelling out to Stanley, “You’re the best” and not many agreed at that point in time.

Patrice Bergeron gestures to the crowd while riding in the Rolling Rally.

Today, June 18, was the big rally for the Bruins Championship. In all the rallies I have covered this was the biggest crowd pleaser. They had to be more than a million folks lining the streets of Boston for the rolling rally. It was great to be able to share it with those folks even if I was behind the camera.

So in my 45 years of news photography I have worked 3 Super Bowl celebrations, two World Series rallies, numerous Celtics celebrations and 3 Bruins Stanley Cup “parties.” Not bad for a man whose only athletic pursuit is reading the sports section of various publications.

My daughters at 21 and 22 have seen all of the hometown teams win a championship, a feat that took me 55 years.

Outside the garden the other day when the Bruins returned I bumped in Tom Farmer, former Herald reporter and long time friend. His question to me was “I bet you have covered all three of their cup wins?” My answer was “yes” and now I am wondering if he is trying to tell me I am old?

The only thing I do know if it takes another 40 years to win the cup again I will not be there for the celebration.

 

21Nov/108

Boston Bruins 1969-The Rest Of The Story

Fred Stanfield, Don Awry, Ken Hodge, Ron Murphy, Johnny "Pie"McKenzie, Dan Forrestal, Wayne Cashman, Bobby Orr, Glen Sather, John Bucyk, Eddy Westphal, Phil Esposito, Dan Canny

I was covering the Bruins practice in 1968-1969 during their playoff run the year before they won the Stanley Cup.  D. Leo Monahan, the great hockey writer for the Record American, came out of the Bruins locker room to get me while I was shooting stuff on the ice and said, “Bobby wants a team photo.”

Bobby Orr had received a poster from a group of soldiers in Vietnam and Orr wanted a team photo with the poster to send back to the soldiers.  I took this photo of the group.

I saw every game Bobby Orr played at Boston Garden including games when the Oshawa Generals, his minor league team, played at the Garden. I had two season tickets for section 73 Row C, seats 3 & 4.  I even had a Bruins stocking hat that I would wear at work and around the office and of course everyone got their laughs from that.

The first time I saw Orr in person was when I went to the Garden with UPI photographers Don Robinson and George Riley for his first official practice as a Boston Bruin.  He was there with Giles Marotte and as a hockey fan and future news photographer this was big.

We covered Orr all the time and when he got hurt at an away game I was sent to Logan Airport for his return along with Globe Photographer Charlie Carey. In those days you could get down to the airline terminal but Bobby was none too friendly with us, as he was hurting. It was not his usual demeanor.  On the other hand, Phil Esposito, who walking with Orr tried to pacify us, being friendly but also trying to get us away from Orr.

I remember many times I was asked to cover events with Bruins players. One time, the two Esposito brothers were doing some kind of promotion for either an airline or a travel agency and we were out on the runaway while Tony and Phil waved to the cameras.  It was fun and funny.  I did a visit with Garnett “Ace” Bailey and his wife just before they got married. They were such a nice couple and it is truly sad that Ace lost his life in the 9/11 terrorism.   A home visit with Ken Hodge was great, as I took a photo of Ken standing in front of his figure 8 swimming pool. I was welcome to his home as if I was one of his family.

I only covered a few Bruins hockey games; but, the few I covered were memorable. As a season ticket holder, I knew that Jacques Plante always skated off the ice with the stick in the air if he won a game.  They were playing on a Saturday afternoon and I got to cover the game. I planned this photo all game and when the Bruins won I got a great photo of him skating off as he always did with the goalie stick up and a huge smile on his face.

The year before they won the Stanley Cup I covered a game that you could almost consider a riot.  Lots of fights with Forbes Kennedy of the Toronto Maple Leafs going wild during an 11-0 Bruins win. The ice was wild and so was the crowd.  What a night!

Bobby and a group of rookie hockey players became friends with a group of girls from Revere and I got to meet him at one of the girl’s homes. It was exciting to meet the future Mr. Hockey.

When the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 1972 beating the New York Rangers at New York, I was at Logan Airport and on the runaway when they got off the plane, another exciting happening.  The only problem was Bobby got off the plane next to a woman who I thought was his girlfriend (future wife) and went with that for the newspaper’s story. Only problem was she actually worked in the Bruins office and I identified her wrong. I found out by taking the photo to Bob Crane the State Treasurer.

When Ray Lussier made the great photo of Orr scoring the winning goal in their 1970 Stanley Cup win, I was at the game in my seats and after the game I went to the office.  There was Mike Andersen’s great photo of young Bobby Orr drinking champagne from the top of the Cup.

Ray Lussier saw me and told me to follow him. He took me to the photo engraving department where back then engravings were made to put pictures in the paper. There it was one of the best hockey pictures ever and he was so proud, Orr in the air after shooting the overtime goal to beat St. Louis Blues.

I just looked up at the TV while typing this and on NESN  there is a special on the Bruins and Bobby Orr flying through the air and they are talking about the Lussier photo.

I have lots of Bruins photos to post in the future and have most of the negatives from the above stories.

Now the rest of the story about the Bruins group photo from 1969.

In September of 2010 I was contacted by a friend of the artist who drew the poster for this photo.  We exchanged several emails and then I exchanged emails with the artist who actually drew the poster from Viet Nam.  The following is his story.

My Boston Bruins Vietnam Poster Story By Donald Souliere

I first learned my reserve unit was being activated for Vietnam duty from the local newspapers’ front page headlines. They contained a list of all the reserve units activated.  My 513th Maintenance Battalion was on that list.

We left the Boston Army base and left my new commercial art career behind one cold morning in October. An Army convoy was taking us to Fort Dix New Jersey to be retrained for our overseas duty. I thought I would not have the opportunity to exercise my graphic design skills for at least a year; how wrong I was.

We flew out of Fort Dix in a troop transport plane. I slept most of the time to make the trip seem shorter. We arrived in Alaska to refuel. It was the first time I had ever seen anything like Alaska’s Blue Mountains. I had never traveled before. Now I was going to Japan and finally to Da Nang, Vietnam.

I stepped out of the plane and saw for the first time the Vietnam that I had seen so many times in the news. It was a humbling moment. A convoy was waiting to take us to Phubai. On the road to our new home the convoy had to stop for a short time because the Marines were having a fire fight to clear a bridge of danger so we could safely cross. Welcome to Vietnam.

A few weeks prior I was sketching families enjoying the swan boats in the Boston Public Garden. A few months later I was in a bunker with a 30 caliber machine gun on guard duty on the “perimeter” outside the compound for the 513th. The army shot up flares during the night to illuminate the rice paddy fields in front of us so we could see up to the tree lines.  We hoped we wouldn’t see anything moving. I was a regular GI Joe just like the movies. Except this was not a movie.

I really believed the opportunity to exercise my graphic skills in a combat zone would be nil. To my surprise I was used immediately by the Army as a graphic artist as soon as they checked my civilian occupation. I did illustration of trucks for their maintenance manuals. I did posters to warn our soldiers of the possible dangers they might encounter such as sabotage, booby traps etc. I did marquee signs for the compounds for the Marines and our own battalion insignia for our compound.

While in Phubai I was approached by 3 soldiers to do a poster to cheer the Boston Bruins hockey team quest for the Stanley Cup. They mailed the poster all the way to the Boston Bruins. I used a Newsweek sport section photo for reference on the slap shot posture for the bear. I used Sports Illustrated photo for the Bruins uniform and I had a book on animals to use for reference to draw the bear. I used a Speed ball pen for the lettering and a brush and ink technique to do the bear. I never realized at the time that my poster would be in one of the most famous Boston Bruins hockey team photos ever.

After 3 months in Phubai I was recruited by the Army as a Combat Artist and was transferred to Da Nang Command Headquarters. I never saw the soldiers again and completely forgot about the Bruins poster. I did not see the poster again until five years ago in the office of a Bruins fan. As I looked at the photo I said, “I did that.” After that the “I did that” got around very quickly. Later I discovered the photo was in a book “A Century of Boston Sports,” it was hanging in the T.D. Gardens, and sold in stores sports photo section.

My last duty in Phubai before being transferred to Da Nang was to escort a Vietnamese truck to deliver used wood to a dump for the Army. On the way I spoke to the Vietnamese in French and we made friends. As we drove by their village they had me over for lunch. They gave me “Tiger” beer and chicken wings.

In Da Nang the famous Navy SEABEAS built me a drafting table in the Command Headquarters where I did full color illustrations depicting our soldiers in everyday life in Vietnam. The illustration where intended to be used as pictorial documentation for prosperity.  As a combat artist I got to fly in a Huey helicopter taking pictures of the surrounding compound area that I would later use to make a large drawing. It was presented to a general for his outstanding efforts during his years of service in Vietnam.

During my Vietnam tour in Da Nang, I was on duty 14 hours a day starting at 5:00 am. After spending my day doing illustrations, I was off duty at 7:00pm. We did not always get the rest we wanted. The Vietcong would hit us with rockets. These attacks would happen mostly late at night. One time they hit an ammunition dump a quarter of a mile away. It exploded all night with the smoke floating over us with flashes of lights from the explosions. We were told an attack was possible and to stay on guard duty with our M16. After 36 hours they gave the all clear signal. There would be no attack. The only casualties were some of my posters/signs that had shrapnel holes in them.

I finished my tour and went back home where the memory of the poster and Vietnam experiences faded over time.

Donald Souliere, Specialist E5, US Army, Vietnam