Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE
PART SIXTEEN: James Larkin Pearson, poet and newspaper man, carried on the Fool Killer tradition from 1910 to 1917, then again from 1919 to 1929. Pearson’s fellow North Carolinian Charles Napoleon Bonaparte Evans had written the Fool Killer Letters of the 19th Century so it’s appropriate that another Tar Heel continue the lore for so many years of the 20th Century.
In August of 1917 Pearson’s nationwide publication called The Fool-Killer changed its title and format because of America’s entry into World War One four months earlier. That change from the hard-hitting satire of Fool Killing was made to show solidarity while the war raged.
In August of 1919 Pearson changed the name back to The Fool-Killer and resumed the hard-hitting political satire. For us fans of Fool Killer lore we can put tongue in cheek and assume that the figure had gone into hibernation for a few years, like he had during the Civil War.
Pearson’s Fool-Killer was the mascot of the entire publication, which was merely 4-6 pages anyway, not simply the supposed author of letters regarding his body count of “fools.” Think of this Fool Killer (I prefer no hyphen) as the written word equivalent of Puck, the political cartoon mascot of the humor magazine of the same name.
I will start out with a look at The Fool-Killer‘s revived run beginning in August of 1919 because of the unique set of circumstances being addressed in that period between the World Wars. Pearson’s Fool Killer was as difficult to categorize as Charles Evans’ own, which is perfect for my purposes, since I’m tired of the old “left or right, Democrat or Republican” clichés.
Pearson’s Fool Killer bashed Democrat President Woodrow Wilson but he wasn’t a Republican. He bashed Republican infatuation with the cold profit motive and openly supported labor over management in the strikes of the time period. This Fool Killer bashed conventional clergy members yet espoused religion to a degree I find distasteful (I’m an atheist), yet he also openly called himself a Socialist. This is the kind of delicious combination of opinions that defies simplistic pigeon-holing.
Next time I’ll begin with the Fool Killer’s figurative reemergence from his latest hibernation in August of 1919. Down the road I’ll go back to cover the 1910-1917 run of Pearson’s Fool-Killer.
FOR PART SEVENTEEN CLICK HERE
I WILL EXAMINE MORE FOOL KILLER LORE SOON. KEEP CHECKING BACK FOR UPDATES.
FOR MY LOOK AT JOE MAGARAC, THE STEEL MILL VERSION OF JOHN HENRY AND PAUL BUNYAN, CLICK HERE
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