Monday, February 27, 2012

H.K. Shackleford, Fred Fearnot’s Father Part II

H. K. Shackleford, Fred Fearnot's Father Part I HERE

Mrs. Shackleford reading a nickel weekly.

1 comment:

  1. (Herrick continued)

    Notwithstanding Shackleford’s demise was in 1906, Fred Fearnot continued to appear from another pen and the 1911 cover of Win and Work represented its times. Frockcoats have fallen out of fashion and the men wear topcoats. One appears to be wearing a necktie whereas before it was strictly bow ties. The style of the hat on one of the men looks as if it would have been continued to make its wearer look fashionably sharp well into the 1950s, while the round brim of the other depicted character’s hat, reminiscent of similarly brimmed straw hats, is not likely to be seen much later into the 20th Century.

    Mr. Sanchez-Saavedra bases his research on two elegiac sources and one wonders if their original purpose were to praise the legend rather than to document a life. The description of Harvey Shackleford written decades later by T.K. Jones in the publication devoted to the Shackleford family, “He was noted for his joviality and sociability, was generous to a fault, hospitable and had a fondness for congenial company; devoted to his family, and to his friends who he entertained frequently in his home,” has the same hyperbolic tone that a nickel-library writer might have used to describe the protagonist in one of his stories. A bit of fame will typically burnish an ancestor’s character in any family history.

    The 1906 obituary of Shackleford in the Atlanta Constitution wreathed Shackleford with accolades before any patina had settled over his image. This Civil War clerk had earned the title of Coronal by the time of his death, as if any gentleman of good character would have had the rank of a commanding officer in the War of Succession if given the chance. According to the Constitution writer, at some time after the onset of adulthood and before the onset of deafness at forty-six years old, Shackleford served as a preacher in Fairburn and Newnan, Georgia, but there is a vagueness about this claim. Did this practiced public speaker at one time address these assemblies on the subject of temperance and these individual events prompt the obituary writer to elevate Shackleford’s role to that of a higher calling?

    In absence of any countering evidence, Shackleford’s own temperance can be accepted fait accompli by his positioning of the practice in his stories. According to first-hand sources; Frederick Dey, the principle supplier of Nick Carter stories, would break from his writing routine to go off to a tavern and quaff down a few cups before resuming his writing. These nickel-library writers were not all cut from the same cloth.