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A trip down the Monitor's memory lane

A serious newsroom calls for serious high jinks.

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This is a time of change and renewal for The Christian Science Monitor.

For me it is also a time for affectionate reminiscence about some of the talented, and occasionally eccentric, journalists who have worked for it during my years at the paper.

I was hired by legendary Monitor editor Erwin Canham. Mr. Canham was a respected and commanding figure. His imposing office in the nonsmoking Monitor newsroom was host to many of his visiting editor friends. One of them, seated across Canham's desk, pulled out a cigar and moved to light up. Then suddenly realizing where he was, he inquired of Canham: "Is it all right to smoke?" Ever the diplomat, Canham replied: "Why yes – of course nobody ever has." The cigar was not lit.

Geoffrey Godsell was a brilliant, bald, – and there is no other word for it – "rotund" Englishman, ex-Royal Navy, ex-BBC, who spoke five languages, one of them impeccable English. The Monitor's then-cartoonist, Guernsey LePelley, and I used to play a weekly game of squash at the local Harvard club. Once when it was closed we took Geoffrey to play with us at the local YMCA, a somewhat more run-down institution than the Harvard Club, with different sweaty aromas. The attendant dispensing towels had a broad Boston accent and had difficulty interpreting Geoffrey's more plummy one, especially when a profusely apologetic Geoffrey intoned: "Terribly sorry. I wasn't entirely with the drill."

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