When It Was – My Life On Both Sides of the Camera By Scott Romer & John Cosper
Scott Romer is that Damon Runyonesque character deserving of a book. Describing himself as a world-renowned photographer, he has shot wrestlers, boxers, hall of fame athletes, dignitaries, and world leaders for nearly 50 years. He has also been a wrestler, announcer, manager, boxer, and so much more.
The man wasn’t cut out to be a 9 to 5er.
In short and sweet anecdotes by Romer and his equally colorful colleagues, he opens the door for you to enter into worlds where boxing matches are, on occasion, fixed, where premier athletes wine and dine with underworld figures, and where Scott himself is palling around with Presidents and other world leaders.
The man even had a run-in with Israeli intelligence.
Romer also served as heel wrestling manager Saul Creatchman and was involved in many a bloody and riotous evening which he joyful chronicles in When It Was. With more than 250 photos chronicling his adventures (and misadventures), this is quite the collection. There’s Romer- much like Zelig- literally “everywhere” and with “everyone.”
What I particularly liked about the book is that the man, despite his world travels and accomplishments, is self-deprecating. He’s not shy about his frugality or of others pointing out the same. And he is also quite open about some of the lines he may have crossed in leading this amazing life. In short, he doesn’t take himself too seriously and seems legitimately amazed that his “side hustle” of shooting pictures turned into a pass to experiences far and wide.
Now you’re not going to mistake any of this for Hemingway; the book consists of little anecdotes/vignettes about the man’s accomplishments and misdeeds.
Regardless, this will give you a little taste of Romer’s colorful tome: Scott remembers;
“getting them (boxers) on the plane wasn’t always easy. One guy, Anthony Wade, got rocked so bad he forgot the whole fight. Four days after we got home, he came into the office to see Fred (the promoter) and asked, “When am I fighting?”
Wrestling fans, in particular, will love it as he discusses so many legends with a clear warm spot for Rip Rogers. Shooting around the world, he spent time with everyone from Brody to Terry Funk, many of whom are now gone. He rightfully gives the larger-than-life Dick the Bruiser a lot of ink; hell, it was the guy’s father-in-law.
Oh, and he was involved in an angle with the notorious Jose Gonzales. Really.
As far as the photos themselves, they ranged from “Wow!” to “Who are these guys?” The zillionth group shot made me crave more action photos than was offered.
But when the smoke cleared, you “can’t help but like” Mr. Scott Romer, who has done and seen it all. Adding to the package is the prolific John Cosper, who is also an award-winning writer and pro wrestling historian.
Ultimately, upon completion, you realize Romer’s life is quite an amazing tale and an enjoyable read at that. And if it motivates someone out there to follow their dream and see just how far they can take it, even better.
This was a review of When It Was – My Life On Both Sides of the Camera by Scott Romer & John Cosper.
Evan Ginzburg was an Associate Producer on The Wrestler and 350 Days starring Bret Hart and Superstar Billy Graham. He is a 30-year film, radio, and TV veteran. Check out his Facebook page Evan Ginzburg’s Old School Wrestling Memories, and his new radio show Wrestling and Everything Coast to Coast with Buddy Sotello. He is currently working on his second book, a short story collection. His first book, Apartment 4B, Like in Brooklyn, was about his growing up in the turbulent Brooklyn of the ’60s and ’70s.