Editor’s Note: This year, Field & Stream is 115 years old, and in that century-plus we’ve brought our readers some outstanding hunting and fishing stories. To mark the occasion, we’re putting the best of these on our web site every Monday for the next 20 weeks. That’s 20 stories in total. They are, in our view, some of the best stories that have run in our magazine. This is the first.
A few of you may have noticed that a story went up on the F&S website yesterday, quietly and without much fanfare or photo support. Just words. But what words they are. Corey Ford’s original, unedited, untinkered-with vision of The Road To Tinkhamtown, which many regard as the finest piece of writing to ever grace the pages of an outdoors magazine. Virtually all stories, for reasons of style, grammar, and length, get edited before publication. It’s not often that readers get the opportunity to read the original unfiltered version of a story, much less a story as famous and beloved as Tinkhamtown.
Corey Ford, who died in 1969, the same year Tinkhamtown was published, was best-known for his Lower Forty columns in F&S, but many people don’t realize that he was also considered one of the foremost humorists and satirists of his day. He wrote for, among others, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, he rubbed elbows with the likes of E.B White, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Thurber, hung out with the members of the famous Algonquin Round Table, wrote numerous Hollywood screenplays and books on a wide range of topics, and partied with the stars (for an excellent mini-biography of Ford, pick up a copy of The Trickiest Thing in Feathers and read Laurie Morrow’s introduction). He did all that, and then he could turn around and write stories about men and dogs that could absolutely floor you.
Many writers from that period – especially outdoors writers – do not hold up well for the modern reader. The diction, the cadence, the formality, the (for lack of a better term) period stiffness of their prose is, quite frankly, a torture to read. Corey Ford is not one of them. Do yourself a favor and read The Road To Tinkhamtown. Just be sure to read it alone, and with a tissue handy…