I first wrote about Earl Peirce, Jr., on May 17, 2017. I misidentified him then as Earl Monroe Pierce, Jr., based on his age and his residency in Washington, D.C., where Peirce/Pierce is known to have lived. A month later, an anonymous commenter let me know that I had the wrong person and provided a link to an online discussion about the right one. I removed what I had written and promised an update and correction. By then it was too late: my mistake was memorialized in the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDb) and you can still find it there today. I pride myself on doing good work. It's not such a good feeling to do bad and to know that I have done bad. It's not a good feeling, either, to know that my mistake is flapping in the breeze of the worldwide web. I'm not a member of ISFDb and don't know anyone who is. I hope that once this new series is over, someone will let them know that the whole mess has been straightened out and that it's time to recognize the real Earl Peirce, Jr., for who he was.
The Peirces of Maine
One of the reasons I misidentified Earl Peirce, Jr., is that it just didn't seem to me that his surname was spelled correctly. We once had Franklin Pierce as president. We know Hawkeye Pierce as a fictional Korean War surgeon. (1) We even have Jeremy Duncan's pierced friend Pierce in the comic strip Zits. To complicate matters, Earl Peirce was also known as Earl Pierce. My mistake was in thinking that the correct spelling was a mistake and vice versa. (2) What I didn't know is that there are scads of Peirces who have called Maine home since the colonial era and that their numbers have included militia captains, wealthy lumbermen, a prominent artist, a well-known (in his time) archaeologist and art historian, and not one but two writers of genre fiction. Only one of them was Earl Peirce, Jr. I'll get to the other--his third cousin--before we reach the end of this series.
To be continued . . .
(1) Hiester Richard Hornberger, Jr., better known by his nom de plume Richard Hooker, graduated from Bowdoin College in Maine and later practiced medicine in Waterville and Bremen. (Franklin Pierce graduated from Bowdoin, too.) Hornberger (1924-1997) served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and went on to write the original novel (1968) on which the movie and television show M*A*S*H* were based. I imagine he met more than one Peirce/Pierce during his decades in Maine. Maybe one of them provided him with the surname of his fictional counterpart. Hawkeye Pierce's real name, by the way, is Benjamin Franklin Pierce. Remember this: if you draw any line long enough it eventually becomes a circle. Here's another circle: Earl Peirce, Jr., came from a Maine family and died in New Jersey; Hornberger was born in New Jersey and died in Maine.
(2) The spellchecker in Blogger doesn't like the spelling Peirce, either.
Text copyright 2020 Terence E. Hanley