Remembering Mac

A giant presence

The outpouring of stories, pictures, and videos has been cathartic, and brings home the wealth of people this wonderful man touched.

I spent my summers at my grandmother’s house in Jaffrey Center, and I remember Bob from the Duke Miller dances at the Fitzwilliam town hall, back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, and later at the Peterborough dances and NEFFA.

He has been a mainstay of my dance memories. My mum started taking me dancing when I was about 10 (late 60s), because she had grown up dancing to Ralph Page, in that same part of southern New Hampshire. Bob was part of a “very large” band (it seemed, for when I went up to Tod Whittemore’s reunion dance a few years back, it seems so much smaller than I remembered), playing accordion, and later, sometimes piano. (The band later included Peter Barnes on flute.) Those two stood out the most up on that stage to me as a child and teenager, although there were many others there.

Dancing and the music associated with it has been a stronghold of my life; something that I keep going back to when I get otherwise distracted away from it, and Bob and his music have always been there. Bob Mac has always been a part of my life, always with a great hug and hello whenever I have seen him, at NEFFA, Peterborough, wherever and whenever. He really did not forget a face. I will miss his boom-chukka playing and his tunes, as well as his personality up on stage, but there is a ginormous following of his students and fellow musicians who will carry on his tradition. One of my favorite videos of all time is David Millstone’s Paid to Eat Ice Cream, the story of Bob and contra dance in New Hampshire. Love and peace to you, Bob.

Persis L. Thorndike lives in Milford, Mass.

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