The red-haired Tom Duffy, his body still toned seven months after retiring as a major in the Massachusetts State Police, playfully lifted the beach chair in which Pam Marrone sat, the better for her to take in the sun on Cove Beach in the Bahamas last Valentine's Day.
A stunning brunette stopped to watch. "I thought the days of chivalry were gone. Where did you get this guy?" the young woman in a brown bathing suit asked Mrs. Marrone, wife of Don Marrone, owner of the Wachusett Country Club in West Boylston.
The Marrones regularly vacation in the Bahamas with Tom Duffy and his girlfriend, state Police Sgt. Darlene DeCaire, who, by the way, was right there. Mrs. Marrone was thinking the brunette was 1) extremely good looking and 2) trying to pick up Maj. Duffy.
"I was like 'OK, go away, you’re too pretty.' So I wasn't really that friendly to her."
After a brief chat, the woman rejoined the young man she was with some 50 feet farther down the beach.
Two days later, still on Paradise Island, Maj. Duffy got a phone call. It was Joseph Reidy, who has made 11 movies with Martin Scorsese.
He wanted to know if Maj. Duffy would be interested in helping the famed movie director make his next picture. That was the beginning of a seven-month adventure during which Duffy, who has lived in Worcester all his life, was in daily contact with Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin and others who are the stuff of Hollywood.
It was on the plane [home] that he was paging through People magazine, when he saw the picture of the woman in the brown bathing suit from Cove beach. The woman, Luciana Barroso, was sitting — 50 feet from where the major had been — with her soon-to-be fiance Matt Damon.
The same Matt Damon who just a few weeks later called Maj. Duffy at home to ask when they could get together so he could learn the ropes of the state police.
To train for the film, Mr. Damon got to go along with the state police gang unit when it made a raid on a crack house in Everett. The actor was so impressed that he spoke with Mr. Scorsese, who had a drug raid written into the script, with two of the state police gang unit leaders, Lt. Dan Risteen and Sgt. Frank Hughes, joining Mr. Damon when his character supervised a raid in the movie.
"Gov. Duffy" delivered a commencement address (30 years after he listened to one) to a class of graduating state police trainees that included not just Matt Damon, but also Maj. Duffy’s own son, Worcester Patrolman Thomas B. Duffy II. The lieutenant governor sitting behind the governor was Pam Marrone, who by then figured that Matt Damon’s fiancee was not making a move on Maj. Duffy.
Maj. Duffy said he was impressed with the work ethic, with people regularly putting in 12- and 14-hour workdays. He also appreciated the way he was treated.
"I was impressed and humbled by the amount of respect they showed," he said. Maj. Duffy said he had a cup of coffee and offered to get one for Mr. Damon when he was working at a computer.
"He said, 'You’re not getting me a coffee. You’re a major on the state police.'"
Caption: Actor Matt Damon, left, and Worcester Patrolman Thomas B. Duffy II, son of Maj. Tom Duffy, pose as graduating state troopers for the movie.
Matt and Maj. Duffy on the shooting range