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The quintessential Downeast storyteller

(Page 2 of 2)

Later on in the day,

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That she'd lifted his watch and his che.

The Observant Citizen column liked short pieces about odd New England matters, and John's first item was about a cat in Pownal that jumped to the porch railing and rang the doorbell when it wanted to come in. John was happy to learn that the Post paid 50 cents for each "obs cit" item, and he managed to find a good many of them as time ran along.

A tender age for a cub reporter

In 1924, when John was a sophomore in high school, he wrote the editor of the Brunswick Record to offer his help, and editor Rob Toby replied to start sending news. John wrote gainfully for the Record until 1940. Since then he contributed an occasional essay to the daily Times-Record for memory's sake.

John also moonlighted as stringer for other papers, and this led to his becoming a featured writer for the Boston Sunday Post. In 1942 he began a weekly column for The Christian Science Monitor, which is perhaps the longest-running dispatch of its kind. In that same year, his first of 30 books was published. He was published in all major magazines in the United States and nearly all the newspapers. His weekly Monitor column was syndicated. For five years he did a daily radio show for WLAM in Lewiston, Maine. He also did a remote weekly show for WBZ in Boston. For many years he was "most frequent contributor," by tape, to an evening show on the Trans-Canada English network of CBC.

John lectured at colleges across the country. For two years he taught journalism at Goddard College in Vermont. He was editor of the Lisbon (Maine) Enterprise, a weekly. He was a featured writer for The New York Times Magazine. For many years he had the spot in the Baltimore Evening Sun once filled by H.L. Mencken. He was a member of the Maine Press Association, and among the first group of inductees to their Hall of Fame. He was graduated by Bowdoin College in 1931 with a BA degree, and received honorary doctorates from Bowdoin (1968) and the University of Maine (1976). He served as president and trustee of the Boston Veteran Journalists Association. In 1953, the US State Department asked him to survey the newspaper situation in occupied West Germany. Gould conferred with more than 400 West German newspaper publishers.

On his birthday in 1932, John and Dorothy Florence Wells of Arlington, Mass., were married in Arlington and honeymooned on Prince Edward Island. They returned to make their home in Brunswick, where John resumed writing for the Record. Dorothy became the Record's household editor.

Rescuing the Gould family farmstead

It wasn't until 1946 that they could build a house on the Gould family farm at Lisbon, which John had bought at the estate auction after his grandfather's death in 1929. The farmhouse built by his great-grandfather in the late 1700s had burned, but with money from his books John replaced it. Their two children thus grew up on a farm. They are John Jr. (born June 6, 1938, in Brunswick, died Oct. 4, 2002, in Rangeley, Maine) and Kathryn MacLeod 2nd (born Jan. 4, 1943 in Brunswick). John Jr. married Ellen Dornbusch of Rye, N.Y., and had two boys; Kathryn became Mrs. Terence Christy and has three girls. There are five great-grandchildren.

John Gould held two political offices. In the 1930s he was a Brunswick fence viewer, and for more than 30 years he was moderator of Lisbon Town Meetings. Besides his journalistic affiliations, he was a Granger and an honorary member of United Lodge No. 8, Free and Accepted Masons, of Brunswick. For many years he was a registered Maine guide. He was also a justice of the peace. He held a commission as admiral in the Navy of the Great State of Nebraska, and was a fellow of the Guild of Former Pipe Organ Pumpers, having pumped in the First Parish Congregational Church at Freeport. In 2001, John was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism.

The public is invited to a memorial service for Mr. Gould at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 6, at United Lodge No. 8, 65 Baribeau Dr., Brunswick, Maine. Letters to Gould's widow, Dorothy, and daughter, Kathryn, may be sent care of The Home Forum, The Christian Science Monitor, Mailstop P02-20, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115. E-mail: The Home Forum