Hank Woodard’s collection of nonfiction short stories details the generations of his family and their time along the banks of the Merrimack River in Salisbury, Mass., during the 1920s through the 1950s.
These 19 short stories, many with their own subsections, recount his life from the perspective of a middle child growing up in a commercial fishing family on Rings Island, just two miles from the Atlantic. Detailed with family portraits, colorful paintings, and maps of the region, Woodard creates a vivid portrait of life by the ocean, days spent out on the water, and Northern New England.
Woodard, a beloved geology professor who taught at Beloit from 1953 to 1992, says the idea to publish these stories came from colleagues and his former students who took part in geological field trips he led to the coastal region of New England. Up-River, Down-River reveals a unique story of the 20th century, one not often presented in memoirs or works of fiction. He captures the spirit of small town New England, providing both an escape for the readers, and educating them on the various aspects of commercial fishing life.
“Our family has a long history on the estuary,” he writes in the introduction, spanning all the way back to the early 1800s, when his great-grandfather, Henry, left behind his family’s farm in Maine.