Thursday, April 13, 2006

inside that pandora's box was a can of worms

These days, it seems like everyone I know is having babies. In the last few months especially. Almost every day I hear about someone else having one.

However, last Thursday I received some news of a very different variety. I was sad to find out that Millicent King, who founded the Winston-Salem Scrabble Club passed away on March 1. She had been doing battle with colon cancer, but remained active, positive and upbeat.

I started going to the Winston-Salem Scrabble club about two and a half years ago after I read Stefan Fatsis' Word Freak. I immediately felt at home there, largely because of Millicent's encouragement. Any time there was a new person there, she welcomed them and played with them and always found a way to offer words of encouragement. She also made a lot of effort to get to know people. She asked questions and listened when you answered.

She wasn't just a fan of the game. She was a fan of the beauty of words, and of the way the games would play out. Even when she would get soundly defeated, she would be complimentary and she would point out nice plays. Not necessarily high-scoring plays, but stylistically nice plays. In my head, I can still hear her complimenting the play QIVIUT which was made on a cluttered board, where the Is were already on the board. "Oh, that's pretty" she would say.

With players who were new not only to the competitive format, but to the game itself, she would never be impatient. This is probably thanks to the fact that she was for 31 years a special education teacher. Even after she retired, she substitute taught and tutored kids from her home. She also encouraged kids to play Scrabble.

Without her guidance of the Winston-Salem club and her personal encouragement, I would never have started playing "competitively" and I would not have ever had the courage to enter a tournament.

I hope I use this sad moment as impetus to get the ball rolling on starting an official club here in Greensboro. If I can have even half the impact on someone's game that she has had on me and the rest of the Winston-Salem crew, I will consider myself to be a success.

now playing:

Explosions in the Sky The Earth Is Not a Cold, Dead Place


Amanda said...

I remembered that what I played was PIZZA with a blank to get a double word score or something pretty mundane, and she said the same thing: "That was pretty". She was an amazing lady.

Bill Purdy said...

That was a lovely eulogy, David. I'm sorry you lost your friend.

Even though I live in Raleigh, and I've never played a game of competitive Scrabble in my life, and I have never made any effort whatsoever at memorizing a word list, and the only Scrabble credential about which I can brag is having read Word Freak ("devoured" is a better word for it than "read"), I'd drive to Greensboro at least once a quarter to play with your club, should you succeed in getting one off the ground. Just make sure you populate it with people who are as understanding and supportive of newbies like me as your friend Millicent was.