Frida Speshul

     Once upon a time, there lived a man known to the world as Klarenc Wade Mak.  He was born in Fairfield, Iowa in 1861 and was buried in Detroit, Michigan in 1930.  Between those two dates, he practiced medicine and published books, sheet music, and (wait for it) postcards in St. Louis, Missouri.

     Are you looking at his name?  I think he liked to have it noticed.  It was almost certainly Clarence Mack when he started out in Iowa, but somewhere along the line, he took up Spelling reform.  He was not as extreme as some spelling reformers: his system seems to have dealt primarily with eliminating unnecessary letters, and applying what struck him as logic to the rest.  Hence, he kept th c, with its S sound (which many spelling reformers do not) and used K for the K sound; hence “Klarenc:.  Here’s a longer example.

     We do NOT know a lot more about Dr. Mak’s life, beyond what he let us know in his poetry (occasionally published by other people, so it wasn’t a personal vice), his magazine (the Fool-Killer), and his occasional books, most of which were collections of poetry (Ekkoes of Luv seems to have been the most popular) but also including a medical textbook (Laws of health.)  Oh, and once in a while he would also write sheet music.  The books and sheet music often bore the imprint “Published by Dr. Mak & Himself” but the postcards were more simply attributed.

     He was also interested in social and political reform, and his Socialist views were no secret.  A letter he wrote to Eugene V. Debs, inviting that controversial candidate to Kansas City, still exists in the Debs papers.   Here he makes his point about one of the most iconic capitalists of the day, J.P. Morgan.  (For further evidence of Morgan’s symbolic nature, note the popular song –not by Mak–“My name is Morgan but It Ain’t J.P.”)

     His main motivation seems to have been to HELP people, mainly by explaining to them how he felt the world worked.

     Some of these seem fairly personal, and may reflect his own life experiences.

     And some of these are, well, a bit wordy, though no doubt worthy.

     You can see from that that he had one other useful attribute. As any reformer without a sense of humor is a burden, no matter how worthy, it is nice to note he had a sense of humor.

     That is, SOMETIMES it’s nice to observe that he had a sense of humor.

     He MUST have been an interesting person to know, but evidence does not abound, at least in a form accessible to me through the Interwebs.  Did he have friends?  Children?  Did he run for office himself or just offer advice?  Did he perform his own songs or give lectures?  How good was he at doctoring?  What photographs turn up online show a reasonably well-fed individual with a genial face, but all that remains are the books, the songs, and the postcards.  Maybe that’s the way he wanted it.

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