Retired Maine Game Warden John Ford has seen it all. He has been shot at by desperate prison escapees, been outwitted by wily trappers, and rescued scores of animals. As a tenacious and successful warden, he was always willing to spend the time needed to nab violators of fish and game laws. At the same time, though, he wasn’t a cold, heartless, go-by-the-book enforcer; he usually had a good quip ready when he slipped the handcuffs on a violator, and he wasn’t above accepting a lesson learned as sufficient penalty for breaking the law.
Ford is also a very gifted storyteller and will visit the Camden Public Library on Tuesday evening, July 22, at 7:00 pm to recount his stories. “Let’s share a night of laughter and fun – on a subject that many folks never realize — what happens in their own back yards!” says John Ford Sr. He writes of his adventures in “Suddenly, the Cider Didn’t Taste So Good,” a collection of true tales, both humorous and serious, from the trenches of law enforcement, and also includes accounts of his rescue of hurt or abandoned animals. Ford followed up his first account with the book, “This Cider Still Tastes Funny!”
Ford has lived and recorded what the life a Maine Game Warden really was like during his twenty years of service to the sportsmen of Maine, 1970-1990. He will share his humorous experiences, kept in diaries during his tenure as a district game warden, in an area regarded as being prime “poaching” country in Central Maine. “An entertaining book that will leave readers chuckling, speechless or both . . . The secret to Ford’s success is simple: he knows of what he writes. And he kept good notes in a diary during his career as a warden, realizing that someday, someone might want to hear his stories. That’s all great news for readers, who will gobble up his collection of stories,” says John Holyoke in the Bangor Daily News.
“John Ford’s stories from his long career as a Maine game warden are offered with humility and good humor, and demonstrate an abiding affection for the land, creatures, and quirky characters of Maine,” said fellow author and game warden chaplain Kate Braestrup. “Ford is an appealing character, a great storyteller, and he’s FUNNY.”
John Ford Sr., a native Mainer, comes from a long line of Maine Game Wardens. He was sworn into the service shortly after finishing up a four-year stint in the U.S. Air Force. He spent all of his twenty-year warden career in Waldo County. Upon his retirement in 1990, he was elected as county sheriff and re-elected in 1994. He has written a local newspaper column and is a regular contributor to the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He also is a painter, known for his wildlife artwork. He lives with his wife in Brooks, Maine.
John Ford, Sr. dedicated 20 years of his life to the protection and preservation of our natural resources. John began his career in September of 1970, serving the State of Maine as a District Game Warden assigned to the central Maine county of Waldo, in an area known as the Burnham, Unity district. Burnham was located in northern Waldo County. In those days there were no schooling required in advance prior to a new warden being turned loose on a wary public. The hours were long, and the responsibilities many.
District wardens were expected to cover all complaints within their district, 24 hours a day, 6 days a week, with 2 days off at the end. There were no possibilities of overtime pay, nor did the wardens of that era ask for or expect it. The pay was a mere $78 a week, but the benefits over the long haul were quite intriguing to a young man looking for a new career. Especially one with good health benefits and a twenty year retirement.
The warden John replaced was quickly transferred away from the area after his wife and daughter found themselves under seige by gun shooting thugs who blasted the windows out of their small but quaint little wardens camp they called home in the middle of the night, as the warden was working far away. The Fish and Game Department was looking for someone single to move into this rather ruthless area of the state. An area that was highly noted for its great abundance of deer and, more so, its poaching. Law Enforcement was not a popular position or career positively looked upon by those who lived in the region and those who considered deer poaching as a way of life. In some cases, illegal as it was, it was simply a matter of a families survival. The times were very different in those earlier days of the young wardens career. The welfare benefits of today were nearly nonexistent, and what programs were, most folks were too embarrassed to participate in.
The challenges facing a rookie warden moving into a hostile area were many, but it was a career that John proudly served until his retirement in June of 1990. Thankfully and very wisely, John kept daily diaries of many of his patrol episodes, trying to recall the humorous and rather intersting events he encountered on a daily basis while trying to forget the many tragedies he would encounter during those twenty years he served the people in his district.
As a district game warden, John studied and closely observed the animals that he enjoyed. As a hobby he ended up drawing and painting many of them. His love of the outdoors and the many wild creatures he encountered became the main focus for his artwork.