Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Oakland. Mississippi town just south of Memphis, Tennessee, in which Aleck accepts a position as president of a small seminary. Oakland is in a swampy lowland with patches of cotton fields. Aleck’s quest for income to feed a growing family and, more importantly, to find satisfactory hunting grounds takes him to several states during the course of his life, but it is finally in Mississippi that he is offered his opportunity for strongest professional growth. Pleased to discover that the seminary is already competently managed by an underling, he concentrates on acquiring and training new hunting dogs. However, the signs in Mississippi are not auspicious, as his favorite hunting dog dies during his trip to Oakland. Later, a swimming accident takes the son he has never been able to transform into a hunter.
*Poplar Bluff. Small town by the Black River in Missouri’s Ozark region where Aleck accepts a position in the fictional Rodman College. Missouri is another good hunting state where Aleck again manages to arrange his work schedule so he is free to fish every afternoon. For seven years his life follows a pleasant routine, until his wife, who has functioned largely as an impediment to his sporting plans, dies suddenly. Although his marriage is generally agreeable, his wife is never his soul mate; that role has been more fully filled by his favorite hunting dog.
*Florida. Aleck’s sojourn in the lake region of Florida is brief. The region’s celebrated fishing turns out to be a disappointment because the lakes’ heavy eel-grass prevents fish from putting up the kind of fight that pleases true sportsmen.
*Tennessee. State that Aleck comes to regard as a sportsman’s paradise, to which he repeatedly returns. Here he resumes his teaching career in Gloversville, lives with his wife, and gains the affection of Gypes, his beloved thoroughbred bird dog. Most importantly to him, however, Tennessee offers endless opportunities for fishing and hunting, and he moves through different regions of the state in this pursuit. Everywhere, he finds congenial folk with whom to discuss shooting squirrels, hunting quail, and stalking deer. To his delight, he has access to thirty thousand acres of land in which to roam and shoot. Aleck’s daughter is able to ensure his Tennessee retirement, even in his old age, with the promise of good hunting grounds.
Caroline Gordon knew Tennessee well. She was born on a farm in Todd County, Kentucky, close to the Tennessee border. This region was known as Black Patch after the local tobacco, which provided the livelihood for most of the farmers.