Dr. Pressler presents paper on Sebring author’s anti-Klan novel
Dr. Charlotte Pressler, professor, English/Humanities, will present a paper on Rex Beach’s novel, The Mating Call, at the Florida College English Association’s annual conference on Oct. 18 in Boynton Beach.
Beach was a novelist and playwright who enjoyed most of his popularity from the turn of the 20th century through 1940. His novel, The Spoilers, was made into a movie five times, with the starring role played by both John Wayne and Gary Cooper. Beach eventually settled in Sebring, returned to his family’s original occupation of farming, and became a pioneer in the production of Easter lily bulbs. He was among the original founders of Highlands Hammock State Park, and his Lake Jackson home exists today.
Dr. Pressler said the The Mating Call stands out among Beach’s works because it condemned the abuses of the Ku Klux Klan at a time when the organization still held a powerful influence in communities across the nation. In the plot, a Klansman terrorizes minority farmers to gain control of their land in the fictional town of Evergreen, Florida, which bears a distinct resemblance to Sebring.
“I was interested in the fact that this was a 1926 novel with an anti-Klan theme,” Dr. Pressler said. “Here you have an upstanding citizen like Rex Beach taking a stand against Klan violence.”
Through her research, Dr. Pressler learned that The Mating Call was loosely inspired by an incident from Beach’s life, when Japanese farmers were run off from the tomato farm he had employed them to manage.
Dr. Pressler conducted much of her research at the Sebring Historical Society with the assistance of its archivist, Carole Goad.