By Brian Kevin
From our November 2021 issue
Roger Angell was 12 when he first visited Brooklin, on the Blue Hill Peninsula, in 1933. That year, his mother, Katharine Sergeant Angell White, and her four-year-old husband, EB White, visited bought a farm in North Brooklin, a hangout with a boathouse that seemed to Angell’s stepfather like a nice place for a table and typewriter. Angell spent part of his summers there throughout his teenage years, learning to sail, and he continued to return to adulthood, as he married, raised a family and launched a career as a seafarer. writer and editor, joining the staff of New Yorker in 1956, where his mother and stepfather had preceded him.
Today he and his wife, Peggy, spend summers in a 101-year-old gray-shingled cottage that overlooks Wells Cove and Eggemoggin Reach beyond. Their house, Angell points out, is the same age as him. “It’s perfectly built – there’s no creaking or sagging anywhere,” he says. “Nothing gave way, nothing had to be done again. It’s just amazing. Until the mid-1970s, Angell and his late wife, Carol, rented the chalet. When they asked the owner to buy it, she told them it was only for a nephew. “Then he showed up once, divorced a long time ago and bringing in a woman who wasn’t his wife,” Angell recalls. “She was so shocked that she let us buy the place.”
Angell has written extensively about summers at Brooklin – about his family and neighbors, the town’s cemeteries, the Fourth of July Parade, and the modest yacht club – most recently in this old man, a collection of essays he published at age 95. Much of the book, Angell’s 10th, reflects on aging and loss (much of it mirrors baseball, his long-time favorite rhythm), and it’s already considered a classic. Not that Angel spends time considering his legacy. “I never for a minute thought about the effect my work would have on my posthumous reputation – I just wrote out of interest,” he says. “People will read me, and they will forget me too. I am not looking for immortality.
His favorite place in Maine, he says, should be his porch. Twenty meters from the high water mark, it has welcomed generations of families and countless guests. It’s his perch to watch the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta every August. Facing west, it is a particularly sublime place when the sun sets on cloudless afternoons. “At the right time, the way the light hits the row of windows is as beautiful as the light itself,” says Angell. “We are constantly standing and admiring the wonder of this ancient structure.”
Bill Ray Head
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