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Melvin Maddocks: an appreciation

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"You just can't give thanks the way you give a 'Whoopee!' on New Year's Eve," wrote Melvin Maddocks in a column on remembering Thanksgiving in The Christian Science Monitor of Nov. 23, 1984. It was republished on Nov. 26, 2003, including the words: "Giving thanks, when thanks are forced, is the phoniest of pseudo-emotions. But when thanks sing from the heart like a psalm, there's no mistaking the real thing. The feet dance on the mountaintop, and who is going to look at a watch and say it's time to stop?"

No one who knew Mel during his Monitor decades is going to say it's time to stop dancing. His melody lingers on in the memories and tributes following his passing last month.

Typically, one of his first pieces after joining the Monitor in 1946 brought to life how the Harvard captain many years earlier had refused to join in a rules conference, stating, "I would send you a copy of our rules but we do not have a spare copy." The 63rd Harvard-Yale game did take place, because later Harvard faculties had been closer to Sir Walter Scott:

 

That was Mel, working a literary reference into a sports story. And, what about an actual literary figure, such as Samuel Beckett? Mel wrote: "He wanders among misty bogs turned surreal, he talks to the wee folk of his own bad dreams, he files reports on introspected black visions with a kind of blarney eloquence. Like an actress cradling a doll for her stage baby, his language keens and croons about tales that are not quite there."

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