To ""borrow"" from Woollcott, one could go ""quietly mad"" over this mosaic of an town, at the turn of the century, made up of memory-stinging episodes which pattern a community's life from pre-Civil War to the age of the automobile. The story hinges on the exchange of talk and personalities centering around the hardware store, guided by the curiosity of the owner, Bart, and the incidents concerning the inhabitants of Barington provide a kaleidoscope that shifts from comedy, often low and primitive but always authentic, to sentiment, real, gentle and restrained, --this is the setting for a boy's initiation into the roots and meaning of his existence. From Methodist-Baytist rivalry, to the familiar virtuosity of the story-tellers, from horses and to domestic and local landmarks, from drummers to revivals, from drummers to revivals, from buggie and harness to ministers, louts and school teachers, from houses and trains to personal fallings, feibles and tendernesses -- this is the age of innocence in all its freshness, wisdom, (occasionally) and . It is rich in anecdote, and flavor; characters and setting are tinged with pungent nostalgia of first-hand knowledge. Fiction prototype in the field of Life with Father, Country Lawyer, etc. But not imitative -- and indigenous Americans.