...and April Fools' Day

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Possum of Tomorrow Program

The Possum of Tomorrow Program was developed by the Arkansas Agriculture Department in the early 1950s to encourage the breeding of opossums (commonly referred to as “possums”) that would be suitable for mass consumption. Organizers believed that there was the potential to develop the opossum market beyond remote Arkansas hill counties and thus revitalize the economies of these struggling areas. However, the program was a complete and total failure and actually landed the state in a costly lawsuit with Warner Bros. Studios. The Possum of Tomorrow Program was initiated by the state to capitalize on the increasing popularity of “alternative” (non-beef and non-pork) meats during the World War II years, since a great deal of beef and pork was being …

Possum, The

“The Possum” is an 1837 poem written by early Arkansas settler Gammon Lausch—apparently his only work. Although not particularly significant in its own right, it is noted for the apparent influence it exerted upon the much more famous poet and author Edgar Allan Poe, whose poem “The Raven,” published eight years later, copies the general theme and rhyming pattern of “The Possum.” In fact, many scholars have been forced to reevaluate Poe’s own poem in the light of “The Possum”—a work that lingered in obscurity after its publication until its rediscovery in 2014. Little is known about Gammon Lausch. On the 1840 census, he was listed as a farmer, with his age given as approximately thirty-one. He lived in rural …