I knew and covered Tom Menino, first when he was the District 5 city councilor from Readville/Hyde Park, and later when he was mayor—28 years. The first time I interviewed him, I asked him, a councilor, what he thought about having a neighborhood council in Hyde Park.
He made a loud snoring sound, then went silent.
I said, “I’m sorry, I don’t know how to spell that.”
He roared with laughter, and we got along well ever after that.
Several times when he was mayor, other journalists and I were invited to meet with him one-on-one or with just a couple of us present. When he came to the Gazette office, we always had cranberry juice for him. His press office, when we asked, said that’s what he liked to drink.
As much as he was a mumbling podium speaker, he was a fantastic conversationalist. He always said intelligent things on issues he clearly understood very well. He was a wiz with people’s names. He could name dozens of JP residents and their quote their opinions as we talked about various issues in the neighborhood.
Once, he stayed at the Gazette office for an interview for so long, his driver could be seen pacing the parking lot, and his press person knocked on the door several times. At that session, he talked at length about how he decided early on in his career that if he felt like he had to bow to people’s prejudices to get elected or re-elected, he would not run.
During a lunch at the Parkman House, with a twinkle in his eye, he told me that if he ever gave a speech to a crowd that looked to be mostly white, he would be sure to inject something about “how great it is that Boston is a multicultural city.”
Sandra Storey was the Gazette’s founding editor and publisher, and currently writes its “JP Observer” column.