Garry Armstrong, the veteran reporter pictured here with Tip O’Neill, offers an insider view to the stress of a reporter’s life with a humorous touch.


Isn’t it too early to be drinking? by Garry Armstrong

I heard these lines recently in a movie. They made me laugh.

“Isn’t it too early to be drinking?” he said.
“No,” she said. ” I’m awake.”

The line had stayed with me many years after the laughter faded, replaced by memories of work, reporters, bars, and pubs from New York to Saigon.

As a reporter, I covered Presidential politics from 1962 to 2001. From JFK to Bush, Jr. As a newbie reporter, I saw veteran correspondents fueling up with multiple Bloody Marys as we began our day on the political or campaign trail. I was impressed. During my rookie year, I summoned up enough courage to question one famous reporter who had begun his career working with Edward R. Murrow. He was on his third Bloody Mary — in one 10-minute period.

“Isn’t it too early to be drinking?”…

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About Gordon C. Stewart

I've always liked quiet. And, like most people, I've experienced the world's madness. "Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness" (Wipf and Stock Publishers, Jan. 2017) distills 47 years of experiencing stillness and madness as a campus minister and Presbyterian pastor (IL, WI, NY, OH, and MN), poverty criminal law firm executive director, and social commentator. Our dog Barclay reminds me to calm down and be much more still than I would be without him.


  1. Until Mr. Armstrong referred to the “veteran reporter” with a masculine pronoun, I wondered if that reporter were Molly Ivins. I read somewhere that she could drink some people under the table, but what a brilliant and funny person. I looked forward every week to reading her column in The Progressive, and shed tears when she died.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn, I remember Molly Ivins. I joined the journalism brigade while many of Murrow’s Boys were still working. I had some wonderful mentors in the 60’s when I was still “the kid”, covering everything from Vietnam to Woodstock, The Civil Rights Movement, JFK, MLK & RFK; Woodstock, Watts and the ’68 Presidential Conventions in between. My cup literally overfloweth. And, that was just the beginning.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When Garry heard that line in a TV show (British, I think), he just started laughing. I couldn’t figure out why it was so funny. Then he wrote this piece and — as a non-drinker — I figured it out 🙂 Thanks for the reblog!


    • I love the piece and the picture of the guy who was famous at the bar in Cambridge. I visited the bar several times during the sabbatical at Harvard. Oh, how they loved Tip! I imagine they loved Garry equally. What’s not to love, right? Thought it deserved a larger audience, though SERENDIPITY’S is to VFTE like the NYT to the Chaska Herald. Every little bit helps.😜

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gordon, thanks for the kind words. I had the good fortune to work and socialize with some of the “heavy hitter” newsmakers. Those were the days when reporters could kibitz with the high and mighty.
        A quickie: Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard. Marilyn and actress, Patricia Neal were strolling along ahead of me, essentially swapping man talk about old flames. I was walking behind them. I could hear folks loudly whispering — “Look, there goes Patty Neal!” and others staring, “Oh, look, there’s Garry Armstrong walking behind Patty Neal”.

        Wonderful times!!


        • Garry, when I first read your comment, I thought Marilyn was Marilyn Monroe. I wondered why the whispers were about Patrician Neal!!! Then I realized (I think I got this right?) that Marilyn was your Marilyn! How did Marilyn happen to be walking with Patricia Neal on Martha’s Vineyard? How did you happen to be walking behind them?

          Liked by 1 person

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