To Our Readers

By John Flanagan

Saturday, September 25, 1999

The News from
Maple Street

LAST week I mentioned here that the newspaper career of my grandfather, John P. "Pop" Flanagan, ended when the Bangor (Maine) Commercial folded, forcing him into harness in a job with the IRS, which paid the bills for his large family until he died. The journalistic spirit never left him, though, and in the late 1930s he singlehandedly launched the weekly Maple Street News on a portable typewriter.

"BANGOR, April 13, 1939 -- J.P. Flanagan enjoyed a visit with E.B. White at North Brooklin, Maine today. Mr. White is with the New Yorker magazine and until recently wrote most of the Talk of the Town paragraphs. Mr. Flanagan having recently bought Mr. White's latest book, Quo Vadimus, wrote asking if he would autograph it if Mr. Flanagan should call on him.

"The reply: 'Dear Mr. Flanagan: This being a free country I don't see how I can stop you -- although maybe my dogs can. I have ugly moods and am intensely suspicious of admirers, whose taste I question. Scratch an acquaintance and find an insurance salesman. They will tell you at the North Brooklin post office where my house is. I am exceedingly grateful to you for buying my book: It sets you apart from all but a few hundred other people in the United States.' "

Each weekend, the News tracked the adventures of the Flanagan sons and daughters: Wilfred, Eileen, Joe (my dad), Mildred, Charles, Tom, Kath and Helen. When war broke out, all four boys went into the service. Eventually tragedy struck:

"BANGOR, 6:30 p.m., Dec. 11, 1944 -- The door bell rang an hour ago and a couple of Western Union boys asked me to sign for a telegram, which read as follows: Washington, D.C., Dec. 11, 4:35 p.m....THE SECRETARY OF WAR DESIRES ME TO EXPRESS HIS DEEP REGRET THAT YOUR SON PRIVATE FIRST CLASS CHARLES A. FLANAGAN HAS BEEN REPORTED MISSING IN ACTION SINCE TWENTY FIVE NOVEMBER IN GERMANY...

"BANGOR, July 8, 1945 -- Well, the MSN has not been issued regularly as Charley's death was a blow to the editor...It was heartrending to get Charley's poor little personal belongings from the Army effects headquarters in Kansas City last week. Just what he had in his pockets: two jackknives, rusted; Dutch coins, silver and bright; fountain pen; infantry combat badge; a service ribbon, brown, white and green; statuette of the Blessed Mother; a crucifix and French paper money...and there was one American nickel."


"BANGOR, Maine, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 1945 -- The war is over, thank God. President Truman announced the conclusion of hostilities from the White House at 7 o'clock last evening... a two day holiday was announced which accounts for the mid-week edition of the MSN."

With that the war ended and so did the News.

John Flanagan is editor and publisher of the Star-Bulletin.
To reach him call 525-8612, fax to 523-8509, send
e-mail to or write to
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.

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