No matter if the inhabitants of Maine find John Gould's years of successful authorship but a ""trifling distinction."" Gould fans in other parts of the country could scarcely bring themselves to agree. Here he looks lovingly back at all the real-life characters who inspired the fun. Memorable vignettes result: harbor master Cappy Dixon push-rowing out to a warship and facing down a gun rather than neglect his responsibility for checking the ship's anchorage; hefty guide Flint Johnson hoisting a sick hunter, paraphernalia and all, and trotting him off to civilization for help; the beloved L. L. Bean printing his own books with neoprene bindings in case they got wet in a canoe. Gould emerges as something of a character himself through the years of addressing Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs--experienced Maine authors, he avers, learn that both clubs belt their songs to the tune of ""Down by the Old Mill Stream."" Gentle, laughing acknowledgments to the past from a man who ""had his world by the tail on a downhill cant.