Brought up in the Depression, Johnny DaSilva is leader of a fun and imaginative gang that lives out their dreams in the Big Tree in which each has a branch that serves as the Lone Ranger's Silver, the race car of Morey Amsterdam, the rocket ship of Buck Rogers, the crow's nest for Black Bart the Pirate. When World War II broke out, they tried every ruse their young imaginations could think of to get into the marines, army, and navy but had to settle for the Boy Scouts. But the faux pas war to end all wars came too soon for the Big Tree Gang. Johnny is best described by an aunt as having the millstone around the neck of having a strict English Episcopalian conscience and bucking bronco Portuguese sexual proclivities. Two girls are in love with him, one wealthy and popular, the other sexually abused and who considered herself a worthless toy, until she met Johnny. Whatever they knew about the facts of life, male and female, were learned pretty much by trial and error.
Frank Sousa was born in Stoneham, Massachussetts, a suburb of Boston. His English grandparents arrived in this country at the time of the Boston Fire. His Portuguese grandparents came here not speaking a word of English. Married to his high school sweetheart, they live in a small Western Massachusetts town. Hes has been a police reporter, outdoor columnist for the Springfield newspapers, and an active scuba diver, rappeller, mountain climber, hockey and softball player,bird watcher, adventure, and flower sniffer. His college creative writing professor was Ted Hughes of The Hawk in the Rain, later poet laureate of Great Britain, Sylvia Plath of The Bell Jar was his great promoter in encouraging Frank, believing his writing was "wonderful," although she confessed she did not understand it as she "wrote in American" His large family is everything to him and also includes English setters Chumley and Elmer and every stray, dropped-off waif on their country road.