The quintessential Downeast storyteller
John Gould, who passed on early Monday in Portland, Maine, has appeared in the Monitor every week since 1942. To readers, he was a welcome and engaging friend. To fellow journalists, he was a master essayist - and a friend as well. Mr. Gould's storytelling talent, along with his remarkable memory, character, and wit, equipped him to entertain and educate readers with tales that spanned 150 years: from his grandfather's memories of the Civil War to Gould's pungent observations of life in a retirement home. Readers caught glimpses of the author's life in his essays. But with news of his passing came the discovery that Gould had written what he called an "exegesis" of his life. We publish it here, to honor him.
John Thomas Gould, the subject of this exegesis, was born at Brighton, Mass., on Oct. 22, 1908. His father was a Maine farm boy, born at Lisbon, Maine, on Oct. 8, 1878, to Thomas Jordan and Hannah Foster Gould. Franklin Farrar Gould, John's father, was named for a tentmate of Thomas's in Company I of the 16th Maine Volunteers, a regiment active at Gettysburg and other places. Tom and Hannah had eight children.
John's mother was Hilda Dobson Jenkins, born Dec. 14, 1886, daughter of John Henry and Catherine MacLeod Jenkins of Vernon River, Lot 50, on Prince Edward Island in Canada.
Frank quit school and left home at 15 to seek his fortune in Boston. Hilda, half Scottish, was as pretty as a field of Highland heather. She'd come to Boston to seek a husband. Frank was the lucky man. The couple lived in a three-decker apartment house on Champney Street until John was born. Then they moved to suburban Medford, first to a flat and then to a single-family home on a double lot at 28 Grant Ave. Here, Frank had land enough for a garden and a stable for hens, rabbits, and pigeons. The neighborhood was mostly immigrant Belgian, and the Belgians ate rabbits and raced homing pigeons. The hens and eggs were the assertion of a homesick Maine boy.
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