Uncle Joe’s Stories

(Editor’s note: this book is currently in the works)

My uncle, Joe Flynn, was a great storyteller, and he had many stories to tell. His life spanned nearly the entire 20th century. After Joe died, I realized that I was the keeper of these stories, that each was a chapter, and that once I had written them all down, I would be the author of an entertaining, thought-provoking, and frequently funny book.

I was 27 chapters into this endeavor when Nancy Bellantoni asked me to collaborate with her on a book about her father, Nat’s, World War II paintings. Now that The Battalion Artist is published, I have turned my attention back to my uncle.

In 1940, Joe Flynn joined the US Navy for a six-year hitch. Serving in the Atlantic Fleet he saw first-hand the destruction wrought by German U-boats and experienced the terror of a torpedo attack. After three years aboard two different ships, Joe successfully applied to become a lighter-than-air sailor. He thought blimps would be a safer bet than seagoing ships. However, as a member of a ground crew trying to land an ice-covered airship in the middle of a storm, he found the blimp service to be not as safe as he had anticipated.

War is a grim business. No question. Yet Joe’s “war stories” are laced with humor and human interest. He told tales of drunken sailors on tropical islands, a “small” explosion on a pier in New York, a rendezvous at “Black Watch Bridge” and many, many more.

I’ve posted a few of Joe’s stories (see my Blog) and will continue to do so from time to time.