Former warden’s second book as good as the first

When you spend a couple of decades skulking around in the dark, chasing poachers through the woods and dealing with some of Maine’s more interesting characters, chances are good that you’ll end up with a few good tales to tell.

But telling tales is only half the battle. Actually writing them down so that a broader audience can enjoy them is the other half.

Luckily for readers, John Ford Sr. kept a diary during his Maine Warden Service career, and he shared a pile of stories — many of which were hilarious — in his first book, “Suddenly, the Cider Didn’t Taste So Good.”

Now Ford is back with his follow-up book, which is just as good.

“This Cider Still Tastes Funny!” (Islandport Press) is another collection of short vignettes culled from Ford’s diary entries, and fans of his earlier work will surely enjoy heading into the woods with the warden again.

Readers who want to touch base personally with the author can do so at 1-3 p.m. Saturday, June 1, at Books A Million in Bangor. Ford will read from his book and will be on hand to sell books and sign autographs afterward.

One of Ford’s strengths: He has no problem painting himself in an unfavorable light, and readily admits that he might have made more than a few missteps in his quest to bring intentional lawbreakers to justice. The results of those missteps will make readers smile and chuckle, and when you turn the final page you’re certain that somewhere, the author is chuckling along.

That subtle touch removes Ford’s work from the typical cop-tale genre and nestles it in its own comfortable spot, somewhere between Maine humorist Tim Sample and novelist Paul Doiron, whose work has focused on a fictional Maine game warden, a man Ford could probably relate to.

Among the many highlights in Ford’s second book: The tale of two confidential informants who take turns ratting each other out in “Aided by Informants,” and an interesting historical account of the Kenduskeag Stream salmon war of 1978 in “The Kenduskeag River Travesty.”

Ford was among the wardens called to the small Maine stream 25 years ago, when a July run of Atlantic salmon became easy pickings for frenzied townfolk who took to fishing for the prized salmon with spears, pitchforks and other crude devices.

Some characters in Ford’s tales end up getting a one-way ticket to the “Waldo County Crowbar Hotel,” while others slink off into the darkness, never to officially be identified.

Note, I said, “officially.” Ford likely knew a lot more than he felt confident in putting into his daily diary entries, more than he has shared with us here.

All of which will leave readers hopeful: Perhaps Ford’s got enough fodder for another book or three, which are sure to be just as entertaining.

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John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.