“On Nov. 8, the students of the co-educational University of North Carolina gave themselves over to a day of humorous osculation. It was Sadie Hawkins Day, only holiday based on events in a comic strip, and all over America 500 schools, colleges, clubs and Army camps were commemorating the day when the original Sadie Hawkins of Dogpatch, Ky., a fleet but uncomely lass, chased and nailed a husband.
“To North Carolina for the event repaired the originator of the famous Li’l Abner cartoon strip himself, Al Capp, to guide and instruct the celebrants in their burlesque. This year there is a new Dogpatch girl, Cynthia the Siren, who is out to get girl-shy Li’l Abner, and on these pages the co-eds from the University of North Carolina demonstrate her effective techniques for kissing the unwilling male.”
— From “On Sadie Hawkins Day, North Carolina co-eds show how to kiss girl-shy boys” in Life magazine (Nov. 24, 1941)
Stephen Fletcher and Elizabeth Hull have lots more on the barely prewar festivities, including the familiar names of Life’s photographer and the Daily Tar Heel’s.
“[Billy] DeBeck‘s primary focus as a cartoonist was always amusement rather than cultural edification, and he played a leading role in constructing a broad-based public conception of Southern hill folk as cartoonish figures.
“He was also instrumental in freely blending Ozark and Appalachian settings into a single mythical geographic location. Although [his comic strip “Barney Google & Snuffy Smith” ] was initially set in the North Carolina mountains, characters in an early episode refer to ordering store-bought clothes from the nearby big city of ‘Little Rock’ — in reality, 600 plus miles to the west. A month later, Sairy Hopkins runs away from Hootin’ Holler and after three days of wandering through the woods arrives in ‘Crystal Springs, Arkansas.’
“Such geographic confusion suggests the willingness of both the creators of the hillbilly image and the reading public to accept the conflation of hundreds of miles of distance and two diverse cultures into a homogenous fantasy mountain South — a process that would only accelerate in the work of [“Li’l Abner” cartoonist] Al Capp.”
— From “Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon” by Anthony Harkins (2003)