Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT IN THE 1850s, CLICK HERE
PART FIFTY-TWO – Some of the targets from the December of 1911 edition of James Larkin Pearson’s version of The Fool-Killer:
*** The United States Supreme Court, authors of so many miscarriages of “justice” in the nation’s history, for the way that Pearson and his Fool Killer felt the court’s vaunted dissolution of the Tobacco Trust (American Tobacco Company) was a farce. ATC was, he felt, allowed too much say in their sentence to dissolve into four separate companies.
There was certainly a lot of truth to that take on the situation. The “new” companies were soon being accused of colluding with each other to carry out the same monopolistic practices that they had before. Three of those four companies were found guilty of this in 1938 after years of further investigation and litigation. This calls to mind the way Big Tech basically calls its own shots by virtue of all the political figures they own.
*** Churches which allowed Bingo, a game that the odd Pearson viewed as “gambling.”
*** George W Perkins at U.S. Steel for what Pearson and his Fool Killer considered the miserly amount that Perkins made employees eligible for under the company’s new profit-sharing plan.
*** The masked and armed men who tarred and feathered school teacher Miss Mary Chamberlain in Shady Bend, KS. What newspapers of the time called “gossip from jealous women” regarding the teacher prompted the ugly incident, which had been planned at the mill owned by wealthy citizen E.G. Clark. The masked, pistol-packing mob stopped Chamberlain in her buggy and carried out the deed.
*** Former candidate for the Vice Presidency of the U.S. Thomas E Watson from Georgia, for his frenzied attacks on Catholicism. And the publication The Yellow Jacket, for its hypocritical criticism of Watson while launching its own frenzied attacks on Socialism.
*** Whoever might be responsible for the Great Molasses Flood in New Orleans back on September 11th of 1911. (Yes, September 11th, coincidentally enough.) The Sugar Planters Storage and Distributing Company had one of its million-gallon tanks of molasses burst, causing a literal molasses flood that spread for over a quarter of a mile at first, but ultimately around two miles after water mains burst and added to the mess.
Streets were flooded up to a depth of fifteen feet in some spots and twelve inches in the deluge’s outer reaches. No one was killed but many people had to be rescued from being (literally) stuck on the streets or inside buildings with several pets needing to be extracted from the morass. A plague of flies then descended on the flooded areas for days afterward.
*** Voters who were suckered in by the same incumbent politicians election after election, swayed by the promises they then broke after election day.
*** An unnamed North Carolina church for baptizing a rat.
*** Female gossips and their male counterparts, called “Gabbyjacks.”
*** Of all things, Grit “the great family newspaper”. Yes, Grit really existed and isn’t just the punchline to a lot of old Dad Jokes and Granddad Jokes. Like Rich Hall decades later, Pearson and his Fool Killer were irked at Grit, albeit for different reasons. Grit had paid for an ad for itch cream in a previous issue of The Fool-Killer. James stated that he assumed the ad would be for Grit itself, not a snake oil item.
*** Pearson was an odd mix of religious zealot and socialist, so he and his Fool Killer often targeted socialists who preached atheism.
*** As I’ve often pointed out, Pearson was not easily categorized, which is why I find him interesting. Many of his opinions would upset either left-wingers or right-wingers of today, and sometimes his opinions are absurdly outdated. Since he was always bashing dancing and dancing studios as “sinful” he was delighted to report that in New York and Washington society a new fad for “setting a waltz” was getting hot. Instead of dancing, the man and the woman would sit and listen to the music in the ballroom while they had their arms around each other and the woman’s head resting on the man’s chest.
Some of the Fool Killer’s pithier remarks this time around:
“Society etiquette is the science of making a fool of yourself to please other fools.” Today that could describe social media “etiquette” like all those video challenges.
“It is wrong to tell a lie that you are liable to get caught in.”
— Regarding the way the fairly new invention airplanes were being talked about for use in everything by 1911: “I guess Santa Claus will come in an aero-plane this time and just drop the little trinkets down the chimney as he flies over.”
As I always say, it’s fascinating to read this old publication and its odd mix of viewpoints – even the ones you disagree with.
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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