M*A*S*H Goes to Maine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

M*A*S*H Goes to Maine is a novel written by Richard Hooker and originally published in 1972. A sequel to 1968's MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors, it features several of that novel's characters in rural Maine. An attempt to adapt M*A*S*H Goes to Maine as a feature film was unsuccessful.

Plot summary[edit]

Hawkeye Pierce returns to live in Crabapple Cove, Maine near the town of Spruce Harbor. Having left the Army, Hawkeye is established to be working for the Veterans Administration. In May 1954 he is laid off. At this point, Hawkeye doesn’t have much money in the bank, is 31 years old, and has three children: Billy, Stephen and Karen.

The day he’s released, Trapper John McIntyre comes to visit and sets Hawkeye’s future in motion. Trapper John, a lieutenant in the Cardia Nostra medical "family" (as Hawkeye refers to it) of "Don" Maxie Neville in New York City, arranges for further thoracic training for Hawkeye, first in the East Orange VA Hospital in New Jersey, then at St Lombard’s in Manhattan from July 1954. After two years Hawkeye breezes through the Thoracic Boards. At the end of his training in June 1956, two Spruce Harbor locals, Jocko Allcock (the man who was responsible for Hawkeye being fired by the VA) and “Wooden Leg” Wilcox (the local fish magnate) come to visit Hawkeye to set him up in practice—by betting favorably on the outcome of his operations.

The first operation with Trapper John’s assistance (upon Pasquale Merlino) is a success, and thanks to his superior training Hawkeye becomes the local surgeon. As time goes by, Hawkeye is given more patients by the local general practitioner of note, “Doggy” Moore; goes into private practice with ex-Spitfire pilot Tony Holcombe and plots the eventual reuniting of the Swamp Gang. By 1959 Hawkeye has lured Trapper John, Duke Forrest, and Spearchucker Jones into his net, and thanks to the proceeds of the “Allcock-Wilcox” syndicate, a new “Finestkind Fishmarket and Clinic” is set up along with the new Spruce Harbor General Hospital.

Duke returns to Georgia from Korea, and takes a course in urology. Hawkeye Pierce then invites him up to Spruce Harbor, Maine to join him and a new friend, Tony Holcombe in private practice. Duke immediately turns up in Maine with his bloodhound, Little Eva, and joins Hawkeye in persuading Spearchucker to become the local neurosurgeon. Duke and his family move into Crabapple Cove next to Hawkeye and Mary Pierce. Trapper John is lured to the area by the possibility of becoming the Don of Spruce Harbor in the Cardia Nostra and becomes romantically involved with Hawkeye's secretary, whom he eventually marries.

Along the way, the reader meets more of the local characters, including "Wrong Way" Napolitano, who sometimes uses the transatlantic jets he flies for a major airline to spot fish for his fisherman relatives in the Gulf of Maine; Moose Lord, a longtime friend of Big Benjy Pierce who contracts a rare and extremely nasty form of cancer that Hawkeye has to treat; Goofus MacDuff, the Medical Director of Spruce Harbor General, whose ability to summarize a case and reach the completely wrong conclusion is the stuff of legend to the Swampmen; Doggy Moore, the previously mentioned general practitioner whose adopted son Chip (short for Chipmunk) Moore was a high school and college buddy of Hawkeye's; Half A Man Timberlake, who is not overly bright but is sexually insatiable, and Wooden Leg's loyal henchman; the three local hookers, Bang-Bang Betty, Mattress Mary, and Made Marion; and Hawkeye's Uncle Lewis "Lew the Jew" Pierce, who is a fanatic golfer and lives on an old fishing pier in The Solid Rust Cadillac.

Even by Down East standards, Spruce Harbor has more than its share of colorful characters. But it's a solid community that comes together in a crisis, as is shown when the beloved Doggy Moore becomes seriously ill and it's up to the Swampmen to pull him through one medical crisis after another, demonstrating they have not lost the touch that made them legends back at the 4077th MASH.

Setting[edit]

Pierce's home, "Port Waldo", is (real-life) Waldoboro, and the FinestKind Clinic is just up Route 1 in Rockland. "Crabapple Cove" is Broad Cove, in Bremen just down the Medomak River from Waldoboro Village. Richard Hooker (Hornberger) owned an old farmhouse on Heath Point. The reader will note Wreck Island, Thief Island, and other Muscongus Bay landmarks in the book. It is possible that the Pierce family is modeled after the (real-life) Spear family, who had a number of different branches in the area, in the 1950s.