Look! Up in the sky! It's a prank!
No one mistook the cardboard cutout atop the 100-foot-tall water tower at Millersville State Teachers College for a bird or a plane.
It was Superman, that's for sure. But how did the representation of the Man of Steel get up there?
He didn't fly there all by himself.
Perry Love, a 1958 Millersville graduate and a retired Millersville University administrator, recalls the 1957 caper that transported Superman from a North Queen Street theater to the water tower.
Superman first appeared outside the Grand Theater in the 100 block of North Queen Street. The Grand was one of four theaters in that block that urban renewal destroyed in the 1960s.
A movie featuring Superman was showing in the late autumn of 1957. The life-size cutout -- in flight, hands out in front, cape rippling to the rear -- stood in front of the theater to advertise the show.
"They must have known that someone at either F&M, Millersville or Stevens, or somebody, would try to take Superman,'' says Love, of Willow Street. "They had a policeman there watching.''
Someone must have distracted the police officer because Superman disappeared.
The next day the cardboard cutout appeared on top of the water tower.
The Lancaster New Era, always on top of the news, interviewed Bert Leighton, manager of the Grand Theater.
"Some smart aleck called me and told me where I could find Superman,'' he said. "The caller said I could get him back by climbing to the top of the standpipe. I told him promptly to keep Superman.''
Someone climbed the water tower again, Love says, because the cutout soon vanished.
Later that week, Millersville played a basketball game in the gym on the first floor of Brooks Hall. Love was there.
"Right before half-time, a window from one of the wrestling rooms on the second floor of Brooks Hall opens up and out onto the floor flies Superman,'' Love recalls. "Of course, the fans went nuts.''
John Pucillo, the college's longtime director of athletics, was watching the game. Love says Pucillo raced up the steps to the wrestling room. He found no one inside.
As far as college pranks go, Love observes, this was one of the better ones.
"It was funny,'' he says. "Superman kept appearing in different places.''
Walter V. Price Jr., who graduated from Millersville in January 1961 and went on to teach and coach sports at Donegal High School for four decades, also remembers the event.
"It was a big thing around campus at the time,'' says Price, of Columbia. "Nobody wanted to talk about it because they were afraid someone was going to get kicked out of school.''
Reborn after dying in 1919?
A typo in Tuesday's column had Chinese Lancastrian Woo Hong Neok being born in 1934 and dying in 1919.
The column quoted a writer who praised Woo's amazing life story as a "reminder of the richly nuanced character of nineteenth-century Pennsylvania....''
So Scribbler reader Jere Wiegand, a clever wag, suggested that, in light of the published order of birth and death, the term "richly seanced' perhaps should have replaced "richly nuanced.''
Woo actually was born in 1834.
Brigitte Bardot, if you can believe any birth years listed in this column, actually was born in 1934.
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