My new favorite book is "Suddenly the Cider Didn’t Taste So Good: Adventures of a Game Warden in Maine" by John Ford. It is funny! And sometimes not funny, because being a game warden brings a person into contact with armed law breakers in remote locations.
But three stories struck me as particularly good for retelling (I asked the publisher if it was all right; he didn’t seem to think John would mind). Here are my bastardized (don’t think I’ve ever written that word before; it’s a good one) versions, i.e., clipped for telling, of John Ford adventures. For the full effect, buy the book and read it. It’ll make you laugh out loud. Guaran-damn-teed.
New on the job as game warden for Waldo County, John was feeling a little green -- and he was. A buddy of his offered a plane ride so John could see his whole territory from above -- get a good feel for it. Up they went.
The plane ride did strange things to John’s insides, so after awhile he was feeling queasy, then nauseated, then like he was about to hurl. The pilot -- a sensitive person -- noticed that John was literally green and asked if maybe it would be a good idea to bring the plane down for a breather. “There’s a canoe on that pond,” the pilot said. “Couple people fishing. We’ll land and you can check their licenses.”
John thought that was a good idea. Down they went. The pontoons hit a little hard, but John was happy to no longer be airborne. He opened the door -- in full dress uniform, full of warden authority -- and jumped to the pontoon. Except he missed the pontoon. Went straight to the bottom of the pond.
He surfaced right under his hat. Clambered on to the pontoon, and announced to the pilot and the lady anglers in the canoe: “Those two are all right. No illegal stringer of fish under the canoe. I checked.”
John liked wardening in the woods a lot better than wardening on ponds and lakes. For one thing his official boat was small and underpowered. Sometimes he’d wave down a speed boat and the operator would just grin and zoom away. Kinda discouraging.
One day he was on a pond in his official boat and he spotted an old guy fishing. “Never seen a warden on this pond before,” the old guy said. “You new?” John wasn’t that new and this irritated him some. The old guy’s name was Leo. He had a valid license and the boat was registered. But John saw no life jacket. “Oh geez,” Leo said. “I left it on my dock. I always have a life jacket. But this morning I left it on the dock. If you follow me back I’ll show you.”
John said the law was the law and began to write a summons. Leo said: “Geez Warden I was just looking in your boat and you don’t have a life preserver either.”
John said, “You know what, Leo, you seem like a real nice fellow. Let’s forget we ever met out here today. How’s that?”
That was just fine with Leo.
John and his partner in thwarting crime, Norman Gilbert, heard shots fired. It was dark, a remote road, and they knew somebody was night hunting for deer. Highly illegal. About a minute later, here comes a truck down the road, with some drunk Massachusetts hunters complete with weapons.
John and Norman summoned them to court. The case hinged on the timing -- heard shots, remote road, fellas with guns show up a minute later, nobody else around.
Norman was on the stand. The defense lawyer asked if Norman was sure it was a minute after the shots the fellas showed up. Norman was sure. The lawyer doubted that Norman could accurately determine a minute and challenged him. Everybody checked their watches and Norman sat quiet. When he announced that a minute was up, nobody was more astounded that John that he had it down to the second.
The case was won.
After, John asked how Norman could be so accurate. Norman said: “There was a big old wall clock at the back of the courtroom. With a second hand.”