My Puzzle Life

by Mel Taub

I started constructing Double Crostics in 1951, while a Brooklyn College junior. Unlike today, there was something of a demand; many of the myriad puzzle magazines then published were using them.

Late in 1954, after military service, I tried my hand at a N.Y. Times crossword which was rejected because of too much 3&4 letter crosswordese. My third attempt was successful and I became a regular Times contributor.

Puns and Anagrams Crosswords were then a monthly feature in the Sunday Magazine. Margaret Farrar, the editor, accepted the first one I tried, editing about 80% of the definitions. This was in May 1955.

I kept them coming and, gradually, the editing diminished. Almost all P&A contributors either stopped doing them or passed away and I wound up doing the vast majority of them, starting in the 1960s.

As to Crostics, P&As were not in great demand. Dell published a handful when Nancy Schuster was an editor. Other Dell editors didn't go for the idea. Also, many years ago, probably in the 1960s or early 1970s, Elaine Balcombe, an editor for Quinn Publications, who put out a bunch of puzzle books out of Kingston, NY, asked for something devilish that would fit on the inside back cover. I sent her some smallish PAs and she went for them. Probably a dozen or so got printed while she was editor.

In October 2003, I saw an entry on the Cruciverb Network about an interesting crostic on "Sue Gleason's Website" and I got in touch. Since Sue was willing to look, I decided to send her some of the stuff I had on hand, for which there is practically no market nowadays. The more I looked in my files the more I found and sent. The greatest output of P&A crostics has been on this website.

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Page copyright by Mel Taub January 11,2004. Revised December 14, 2010