Footprints in your heart

From Rocky Coe – 1999

To Larry Creshkoff on the occasion of his seventy fifth birthday

I remember a very exciting evening in a funky old building on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge when I switched on the lights in the little glassed-in room we then called studio B and you cued the cameras and the mike went live for Louis Lyons to begin the first ever television broadcast by WGBH.

"Rocky" Coe with Mary Lela Grimes on the set of Discovery.

We didn’t know anything about television, yet we knew everything that was necessary. And so it was when the chrysalis opened and the Luna moth spread its wings on Mary Lela Grimes’ live-television nature show. And I remember when we did our first thrilling remotes from the Museum of Fine Arts and when Jordan Whitelaw cued the team in at Symphony Hall. So many wonderful names for seventy five year-old guys to remember. Bill Pierce, Ray Wilding White, Boardy O’Connor, Peter Hollander, Parker Wheatly, Hartford Gunn, and so many more.

You would remember them all. You always were so good at that. Now my card files from those days have been left behind in old attics of the past. And my silicon data base has not yet been retrofitted to bring those good old days back to the present. So I’m happy to just celebrate our days of working together, and the years of friendship that have followed.

Eleanor Roosevelt wrote: “Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart. Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, But beautiful old people are works of art.”

To Don Hallock

How wonderful to hear from you. I remember 84 Mass. Ave. with a lot of affection. What exciting days they were. ‘GBH was a big deal in so many of our lives. And it turned out to be a big deal in its own right. Far beyond what I might have imagined at the time.

Over the years I have taken a sly bit of unwarranted pride as the call letters burned their way onto the screen at the introduction of so many of the most outstanding series productions of the nearly half century since I was last in a control booth. I look forward to meeting with you and some of those other early birds on the eighth of April.

To my friend Ellen

You may remember that one of my early work adventures involved a couple of years as Staging Facilities Director for the nascent WGBH-TV in the early days of what we then spoke of as Educational Television. They were exciting times.

Way before ‘GBH evolved into the powerhouse of television production that it became a few years later, I left the station to go to Boston University and get my MFA. But we had already begun to do “remotes” from the Museum of Fine Arts and from Symphony Hall, and our studio programing was making inNOVAtive use of very limited facilities — and it was all done under the pressure of live broadcasts without the help of tape recording.

So the tension and concentration was stimulating and the possibility of hilarious, or disastrous, mistakes lurked at every camera switch and prop misplacement. All these memories hang suspended in the kind of golden mists that seem to surround our “salad days” adventures, back in those times when anything seemed possible.

Now ‘GBH is organizing a reunion for some of the people from those very early days. I’ve made contact with a few old friends who have been off my radar screen for almost forty years. And I’m planning to be in Boston on April 8th for the get-together.

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