Book cover of by Robert Flanagan

Bits & Pieces: The Middle Years

A collection of short essays/newspaper columns by Robert Flanagan, Connemara Press/McClain Printing, 2020. This collection represents Book III of a proposed 4-book series of selected columns by Robert Flanagan, a subset of the 986 columns he wrote over a 19-uear period for The Hampshire Review weekly newspaper in Romney, W.Va. The columns in this collection were originally published in the paper in the period September 2006-August 2012.

Book IV, with his final section of columns from September 2012-June 2018, will be published in late 2020.

Soft Cover   $25.00



One of my least glamourous moments—in a life of less-than-stellar pursuits—occurred in Rome in 1970. It involved my effort to photograph all the prostitues who thronged the streets of the city and environs. But there was not enough film in Christendom for that task.

I went to Rome from Viet Nam, where I was billeted with another warrant officer who, in civilian life, had been a professional photographer. In sharing living space with Gibbons, his knowledge and enthusiasm for the art of photography rubbed off on me. When he left 'Nam, he willed me an enormous stack of photo magazines, which became textbooks for me. I'd had a camera for years but was a Kodak snap-shooter at best. The first thing after arriving in Italy in late 1969, I went to the Navy PX store in Naples and bought my first good camera, a Canon SLR with "extras." By spring '70, I had discovered some skills and was working hard to develop an "eye."

—from "A trick of lighting: One." page 8

When Herself and I married and moved into our first apartment in Techny, Ill., she didn't recognize a female vocalist, six of whose albums I unpacked from my large collection. With the subject broached, I felt it proper to inform my new bride that I was in love (also) with another woman. She didn't receive the news of sharing me with another woman well, but everything was new; the honemoon had not been a disaster; and the future looked bright. She acquiesced, never realizing the depth of my other "love."

Shirley Luster, born 1926 in Springfield, Ill., was already 30 years old when I first came to know her; I was 19. But no doubt, it was love. She'd already had a successful career, singing from the age of 13 with bands in the provinces. After high school graduation during World War II, she moved to Chicago, into the world of big-time music, changing her name to Sharon Leslie. She sang with the Boyd Raeburn and Benny Strong bands in Chicago and on tours.

In 1945, Anita O'Day, featured vocalist with the Stan Kenton orchestra, hear Leslie sing and recommended her to Kenton as O'Day's own replacement. Kenton heard Leslie, contracted her on the spot. Now into the truly big time, she changed her name again to June Christy. It was that voice—under that name—I later fell in love with, 2,000 miles away in California.

—from "Something Cool," pg. 326