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Joseph C. Lincoln bibliography
posted May 2005
published 10 Jan 1944
Boston Globe? [not found ]
Lincoln's Latest Cape Cod Tale Is Home-spun in Modern Skein
That Joseph C. Lincoln is master of a brand of wit as salty and as home-spun as Cape Cod itself is demonstrated again in his latest novel,"The Bradshaws of Harniss." This is a tale that, while it can claim no breath-taking qualities, will take its place among the earlier favorites and will add another niche for the author in his understanding of life in a small town.
The pungent humor of Zenas Bradshaw, an elderly storekeeper who struggles to keep a family business alive while involved in a fight to protect his grandson from some malicious tongue-wagging, carries the story. His homely philosophy, told in the author's masterful, down-to-earth style, provides zest to what what might otherwise have been a novel of considerable mediocrity. There is reason to believe that Zenas will live with Keziah Coffin and other Lincoln characters in the memories of those who favor this type of reading.
In "The Bradshaws of Harniss," Lincoln has brought his stories up to date. The locale is still the old-fashioned, gossipy small town, but now the tale is built upon circumstances in Harniss growing out of the entrance of this country into World War II.
Feels Modern Influence
Zenas' grandson, Mark, is one of a new generation of Bradshaw's, more interested in airplanes and other adventures of a modern world than settling down to the hum-drum life of a grocery store. He enlists in the Army Air Forces—"cleared out and left the old man," as the town gossips put it—before the outbreak of war with Japan. The story develops around Mark's romance via mail with one of the town's prettiest girls and how the affair helps solve Zenas's problem of keeping his business from going on the rocks.
A sample of Zenas' dry wit is contained in the bit of philosophy he. passes out to one of the town's big-wigs who was sharply critical of Mark's enlistment. He puts it this way:
"You and I aren't exactly young— not any more. When you're 21 you know you've got wings and want to spread 'em. When you get further along all you can do is hope there's a set waiting for you at the next port."
Locale Is Fugitive
Cape Codders may search the book closely for a hint of the story's specific locale. You may take your choice and then almost be certain Lincoln had no specific community in mind. He did, however, strike a similarity in description to many of the wartime changes of the Cape.
There was a "Camp Scott, the huge military establishment— it provided housing quarters for thirty thousand men, so it was said—nearing completion in the once-wooded area between Fairview and Wapatomac, fifty miles from Harniss." the description continued:
"Carpenters, plumbers and mechanics of all kinds, drawn from every community in the county and from as far as Boston in the other direction, were laboring there in night and day shifts. At least twenty Harniss men were employed there, and they returned home each Saturday night with money in their pockets, for wages were high indeed."
"The Bradshaws of Harniss" is truly good reading. Since it is Lincoln's 40th novel, it appears to prove that the prolificacy of Lincoln's writings has not detracted from their freshness.—C.D.T.