Malcolm lived just down High street in Moosup, Connecticut. His father was publisher of the local newspaper, The Moosup Journal. His mother, a Canadian lady with great charm, played the piano and was a good cook. Mal’s younger sister, Dorcus, was a good friend of my brother Peter.
Mal was in my twin sister, Mercy, and my class through Moosup Grammar School. That was a bright class with Mercy, Malcolm, Jack Janetatos and I leading the way academically.
Mal and I were totally different people with different dimensions and personalities—Mal was an outstanding athlete, He was large (becoming six feet four), outgoing, and gregarious. Mal was attractive to the opposite sex and vice versa. I was lacking in all of these and yet we were about as close as two boys could be as we grew up together.
We watched many baseball games together at the Moosup Carpet Grounds where our mutual friend, George Dropo’s brother, Walt Dropo, learned baseball before going on to become a well-known Boston Red Sox first baseman and “Rookie of the Year in 1950.”
Malcolm and I kept baseball scrapbooks and worshipped the famous players, especially for the Red Sox. We throw the ball in his front yard and nobody tried harder than Malcolm to teach me how to throw and catch a baseball—the only problem was, he never stressed how important it was for me to keep my eye on the ball. We read magazines together and both had crushes on the actress, Joan Leslie. We later played golf together, and I wasn’t particularly good at that.
Mal went on to Mount Hermon Academy and Dartmouth College, where he earned a Daniel Webster Scholarship. He played both football and baseball at Dartmouth. I remember one night when I was at Bowdoin, Mal called me to tell me he’d hit a home run for Dartmouth against West Point—with the bases loaded. He was ecstatic!
I visited Mal a couple of times at Dartmouth at their famous winter carnival. We belonged to the same fraternities, Alpha Delta Phi, and occasionally skied together. He was a natural athlete and a good student. Majoring in English, he was an excellent writer, following in the footsteps of his father, who had passed up an offer to join the New York Times, to operate a small town newspaper.
When Pat and I were engaged and started planning our wedding in Atlanta, I asked Mal to be my ‘best-man.’ Malcolm arrived at least a week ahead of my return from France that fall in 1957. In a week’s time, Mal wowed most of Pat’s nursing-school classmates and became a friend of Pat’s father, Charlie Peacock. They played golf together on the Bobby Jones Golf Course and really became good buddies.
I remember Mal telling Pat and me, “I’ve met the girl of my life and I’m going to marry her.” Sure enough, Mal married that wonderful girl, Sandy Peterson, just five months after our wedding. Mal and Sandy became Pat and my best friends when we lived in Moosup, Connecticut and started our families. I had met many of Mal’s lady-friends over the years and I was completely positive that he was most fortunate in meeting and marrying Sandy. She was, and still is, a PEACH.
Mal and Sandy had three children, Mike, Rebecca, and Tabitha. These kids grew up with our children until we moved to South Carolina. Mike and our daughter, Jan, were particularly good friends with both skipping a grade together at the same Moosup Grammar School where Mal, Mercy, and I had gone years ago.
Mal ran his father’s newspaper until he sold it to the Norwich Bulletin. Mal and I had sold ads for his father’s paper while home on vacations. Mal was an excellent editor and worked hard. He ran the press himself for this weekly paper. One week a company moved into town making SHIRTS. Mal ran a feature article on this company with the headline, “Shit-Factory moves to Moosup.” He called me to tell me he’d discovered his error after the papers were delivered to stores. We all got a laugh out of that and he sold a record number of newspapers that week!
Mal and Sandy visited us in the South. I remember the time Mal and his son, Mike, also a fine athlete, played golf together on the island of Daufauskie, near Hilton Head. I think they were playing 18 holes for one dollar to the winner. I rode their golf-cart and watched Mal beat Mike on the eighteenth hole by one stroke. Mal was as happy as he was with that Dartmouth home run.
Mercy and her husband, Bats, gave Pat and me a 40th anniversary party at their South Natick, MA home in November of 1997. They’d invited Mal and Sandy without telling us. I’ll always remember Mal and Sandy walking in to the restaurant and totally surprising us. We had a wonderful party. Just before they left, Mal whispered to me that. “I have congestive heart failure, but Sandy and I plan to visit you guys on Hilton Head in the spring.”
Unfortunately, Malcolm died suddenly far too soon in January 1998—just weeks before we’d seen him. Mike called me to ask me if I could attend and speak. Of course, I could. My daughter, Jan, and I flew to Boston in a snow-storm and drove as fast as we could, arriving at the full Mystic Congregational Church just as the service started.
I salute one amazing guy who, by a remarkable stroke of luck, I had become close friends when I was four years old and he was two. No two guys were as different as Mal and I, and yet we had a special friendship with enough similar interests to become close friends.