Notes from a friend:
I met him in 1975 at Sunken Meadow State Park. We were conducting a teacher’s workshop on using the outdoors. Max was doing poetry, I was doing math. He heard me call “Look, there’s a cardinal.” Ever since then, he labeled me as the person who invented the “teachable moment.” “Thomas Allen Stock writes about nature and love of the outdoors, an educator who stops everything for the teachable moment.” Letter, September 1992
He was always a reporter, once told me “Everybody has a story.”
His father was a reporter. Max became a reporter in Geneva , New York
He attended Hobart College and met Virginia while sailing on Seneca Lake
He joined the Marines and received an accommodation for apprehending an intruder while he guarded a naval shop.
He moved to Queens and worked as a writer for a Boating Magazine.
He Married Virginia. They bought a house in Freeport, 333 Bedell Street.
Soon after, Max got a teaching job at Farmingdale Junior High School
We corresponded for over 25 years. It started when I sent him some nature poems for him to critique. I have them to this day, several taped to a door.
Max wrote a nature column for Newsday, Part 2, 1972 – 1980
One of Max’s poems ( science is there, spirituality is there too)
LORD OF ALL
For I know the Lord is great
and he is above all the supernovae
and above all the galaxies
Whatever the Lord desires he does
in the sky and on the seas
It is she who sends the solar winds
who boils the hurricanes out
of the Atlantic
who makes the sea calm and the
petrels to touch down like
they are running on waves
it is he who brings fourth stars of
Milky Way to shine on earth’s waters
- He called poetry “An environmental force”
- In later years, he focused less on nature, Pete Seeger; Marecello Lucero- Jeffrey Conroy; John Muir; Oilman George Bush’s Hollow Eye Sockets
- Virginia and Max had a Pekenese dog named Calle Lora. When she disappeared, Max and Virginia panicked until they found her
- Max’s idea of a gourmet lunch was a grilled cheese or tuna fish sandwich and bowl of tomato soup
- On Halloween Night, trick or theaters got candy AND a Max poem
- Max wrote many memoir poems, grandfather, daughters, Virginia
- When nominated for the first Poet Laureate of Suffolk County, he was snubbed for his criticism of national politics. He was crowned by the newly formed Nassau County Poet Laureate Committee; 2007
- “I’m in poetry for the money.” He often quipped.
- Many years after he retired, he was still teaching English…”Anyone Can Write A Poem” He made beginners feel comfortable and encouraged them. He used a humming sound of approval.
- He always had a spiral notebook in his pack along with a Peterson Bird Guide
- He made frequent trips to Staples to copy handouts for classes and workshops. He invented simple techniques such as “sneak ins” (words that don’t belong)
- “Reputation Enhancement” was a favorite phrase, otherwise known as self-promotion. He had a wonderful sense of humor
- In his study, which was inundated with 5 feet of water from hurricane Sandy, he had at least a dozen briefcases filled with papers
- His study, at the rear of their 1920 cottage, had several standing book shelves jammed with loose leaf folders and books. The isles were narrow.
- He likes to call facts “details”
- He conducted taproot Classes for many years
- Before a workshop, he’d spend hours researching poets and techniques, and example poems
- May 11, 2001, Max and I sat outside on the front porch. “It’s a wave day.” He announced. Many migrating birds that crossed from Sandy Point, New Jersey to Freeport adorned the trees. “There’s a Parula warbler.” He calls
- He often visited daughter Dede in California and Emily in Virginia. Virginia and max visited Holy Cross Anglican Monastery in West Park, and then toured the John Burroughs Nature sanctuary at Slabsides
- In his English classes, when he assigned students to write, if he saw one staring out the window he order “Just write.”
- I visited for a week while working on a fishing boat on the Freeport Canal. Max let me stay the week. I slept in the attic. Late at night, I’d come down to use the bathroom and I’d see Max sitting at the dining room table, reading the paper and cutting out articles to tape in his loose leafs. In early mornings with coffee, we’d talk poetry. He was reading Thomas Merton’s poems – good for discussion
- A sign on their master bedroom door “Male supremacy is a fallacy”
- Max preferred Anglican over Episcopal. A good Anglican has a good martini
- Max wore short-sleeved shirts almost all the time
- Max’s definition of tradition…”Something you can’t get rid of.”
- He took theology classes at the Cathedral of the Incarnation
- “poetry isn’t about meaning, it’s about language” an oft used quote
- In a November 26, 1997 letter: “There is so much I have to write you especially about spirituality and the earth. It is overwhelming
- His sleep habits were much like Thomas Edison’s – catnaps
- Max and were friends for at least three decades. He was not afraid to ask for help. He helped me immeasurably. I helped him with the nature part. I assigned myself to be a liaison between Nature and Max.
- After a positive critique, he’d offer a frank assessment Letter November 21, 1989: “There is a major problem with introductory lines of paragraphs.. They are rhetorical and Bland. Cut them and go straight into the subject.”
- Max was a man of love for his family and everyone he met. I stood on his shoulders, now I’m ready to have someone stand on mine
- Thanks Max for a friendship I will cherish all the days of my life.
June 9. 2016
PS: Max, if you find any typo’s or poor sentence structure, please send your angel to 20 Willow Street. Thanks