LAST ONE IN by John Gould


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Time was when childhood was an education in the natural sciences: wood lore, animals, the finer meanings of the weather, botany, crop growth, and even human nature. John Gould's present collection of autobiographical tidbits was written for his grandson and describes the author's Maine childhood. He was a pert child and his grandson should long admire these pages. Nothing much happens, but that nothing much is rich as hickory smoke. The boy Gould tells about going for a skinny dip, breaking his arm, school classes, Wednesday night prayer meeting, the local livery stable and stud practices, sleigh bells, a boy's winter morning, the 4-H club's advent, keeping pets, hens and pheasants. Consistently amusing, some of Gould's high spots include a marvelous description of the local constabulary, when arresting somebody might mean a crucial loss of votes. The lone deputy sheriff ""was a smooth handshaker who wore an overcoat with a plush collar and lived a life of impeccable decency with two maiden sisters who ran the WCTU."" Equally wry is the failure of the Boy Scouts to round up members: all of Gould's friends knew four times the contents of the Scout manual already. This is a nice celebration of childhood and a child's horse sense, and it rings like a firebell for the past and what is passing.

Publisher: Little, Brown