Roger Angell at 100: “He tells it straight. He writes about winning and he writes about the pain of loss and regaining life again.”

Roger Angell in 2015.

From a New Yorker Talk of the Town piece by Mark Singer headlined “Angell at a Hundred”:

Born five years before the founding of this magazine—but a contributor for only the past seventy-six—Roger Angell has spent his one-hundredth summer in customary fashion. In late June, he and his wife, Peggy Moorman, drove a spring-chicken ’97 Volvo wagon from their COVID refuge, in the Catskills, to Brooklin, Maine, and settled into their gray-shingled camp on a point overlooking Eggemoggin Reach, with Deer Isle in the near distance.

Angell began coming to Brooklin in 1933, the summer before he turned thirteen. That was the year his mother, Katharine Sergeant Angell White, and his stepfather, E. B. (Andy) White, each a foundational source of The New Yorker’s DNA—Katharine primarily as a fiction editor and nurturer of writers, Andy as progenitor of the magazine’s editorial voice—bought an eighteenth-century farmhouse, with an attached barn, in North Brooklin, situated above a large pasture, pond, and woods that sloped down to a gravelly beach on Allen Cove, on Blue Hill Bay. . . .

According to the chronometer, Angell won’t segue into his second century until September 19th, but various friends of Friend Memorial Public Library, in the center of Brooklin, decided to celebrate early. On a sunny Saturday in early August, an ample crowd gathered on the front lawn of the library’s modest white Greek Revival home. Among them were grownups in summer hats, dogs, children sitting cross-legged in the grass, relatives from near Portland (three hours down the coast), and Angell’s stepdaughter, Emma Quaytman. Absent, alas, were his son, John Henry Angell, et famille, grounded in Portland on the opposite coast. . . .

Perched on a wooden stool on the porch was the honoree, dressed in blue cotton pants, a blue-and-white checked button-down shirt, penny loafers, purple face mask, and his signature WoodenBoat ball cap. The preliminaries included music by a three-piece string band and recitations of thank-yous to a long list of volunteers. Then a convivial woman with short blond hair was introduced—Janet Mills, the governor of Maine—to certify the occasion with an official proclamation of Roger Angell Day.

Before getting to the whereases, she said, “In Maine, while we brag about our ponds and peninsulas, our gardens, our granite, our grandkids and green fields, and goats old and young, our woods, our words and our language are the dearest thing to us. That is why I’m here to honor a premier wordsmith, Roger Angell—someone who has used words to elevate us, to inspire us, to get at the truth. He tells it straight. He writes about winning and he writes about the pain of loss and regaining life again.”

Angell had his own list of thank-yous, as well as an apology to “everybody else in town who has been discommoded by this interruption to their wonderful Saturday and going about their business, large numbers of whom have little or no interest in an old guy from away. I am from away. I will always be from away, and I don’t mind. I’m away from New York City, which I love—I love New York; I love leaving New York to come up here, and I love going back there. I’m a New Yorker through and through, but I think I also qualify as a Brooklin regular, and I’m very proud of this.”

One request: “I want you all please to keep your distance—social distance—be very careful. And if there’s any impulse to rush the podium here and pick me up on your shoulders and carry me around, resist that.”

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