An­ti­dote to bore­dom

Bay Roberts na­tive writes his­tory of town

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY BUR­TON K. JANES

Ev­ery Satur­day, Mike Flynn used to drop by David Rus­sell’s print­ing plant on Wa­ter Street, Bay Roberts, and pick up eight or 10 edi­tions of “ The Guardian,” the news­pa­per Rus­sell edited from 1909 to 1949.

At home, Flynn would mine them for his­tor­i­cal odd­i­ties, which he would pub­lish in his weekly col­umn in The Com­pass.

The weekly ex­er­cise re­vived a child­hood dream.

“ When I was grow­ing up, I heard about John Guy in Cupids and Bob Bartlett in Bri­gus,” Flynn says. Surely the his­toric town of Bay Roberts also has a his­tory, he fig­ures. “ I wanted peo­ple to know what went on in this town,” he adds.

Mak­ing a liv­ing

He had to make a liv­ing, so he set aside his re­search, en­tered Me­mo­rial Univer­sity, earned two de­grees and taught school for 32 years.

In 2006, a year af­ter he re­tired and liv­ing in St. John’s, he faced the odi­ous prospect of be­ing bored for the rest of his life.

“ The bore­dom was so in­tense, you looked for­ward to the day you put your garbage out,” he says with a chuckle.

Then he re­mem­bered all the so­called “stuff ” he had gath­ered about Bay Roberts, be­gin­ning in the early 1980s.

Re­search vs. writ­ing

Flynn’s patently aware of the ma­jor dif­fer­ence be­tween re­search and writ­ing.

“ When you start a book, you don’t know what you’re do­ing. Noth­ing cor­re­lates. You’re gather­ing for fu­ture ref­er­ence,” he ex­plains.

Avail­ing him­self of the re­search fa­cil­i­ties in the cap­i­tal city, he even­tu­ally crafted a man­u­script.

Last week’s re­lease of “His­toric Bay Roberts: Not Your Typ­i­cal Small Town” by Flanker Press marks the re­al­iza­tion of Flynn’s child­hood ob­ses­sion.

He re­ceived news of the ap­pear­ance of his book with a mix­ture of re­lief, de­fla­tion and ner­vous­ness.

“ What’s the encore?” he asks rhetor­i­cally. “ How many peo­ple are go­ing to crit­i­cize me?”

Rea­sons for growth

Thirty years of re­search gives Flynn the right to ex­press his per­sonal con­vic­tions about the Town of Bay Roberts.

He at­tributes its growth to a “sense of in­de­pen­dence and strong, en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit.”

He adds that when the Wa­ter Street busi­nesses closed, to be re­placed by malls, the “ peo­ple adapted, be­com­ing part of the new econ­omy.”

And, he says, the town’s go­ing to con­tinue to grow be­cause “com­merce fol­lows peo­ple.”

Flynn’s book was sched­uled to be of­fi­cially launched at the Bay Roberts Visi­tor In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre on July 28.

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