Tomorrow is April Fools’ Day, a day typically set aside for practical jokers to tell tall tales and play pranks on their neighbors. Even newspapers have gotten in on the fun from time to time over the years.
In 1943, the Lancaster New Era published a front-page story warning readers that their pranks could have serious consequences due to wartime restrictions. Citing the Society for the Prevention of Practical Jokers, the article cautioned against some popular pranks:
“Don’t put any bricks under old hats on the sidewalk for passing pedestrians to kick. It’s sabotage – shoes are rationed.
“Don’t use that old wallet on a string trick. If the sucker bends over to pick it up, he may bust his suspenders. Rubber elastic is scarce.
“Don’t put salt in the sugar bowl. One cup of coffee ruined by a spoonful of salt is considered grounds for justifiable homicide.”
Of course the P.S. at the end of the article notes that there is no such thing as the Society for the Prevention of Practical Jokers.
In more front-page news from the same edition, The Scribbler reported on these two knee-slapping April Fools’ jokes perpetrated by some witty local pranksters. Perhaps you’ll want to try them yourself:
“Wilbur Kendig, a boss in the Warehouse Tabulating office at Armstrong’s, was the victim of an April Fools’ joke. … While playing pinochle during his lunch period, Kendig received a telephone call to come to a building two blocks away to identify another employee. He walked there only to learn it was just a gag.”
And then there was the case of the joke that backfired:
“Mrs. Mary Brady, 138 N. Mullberry St., told Edna Snead to look at the red bird outside her window. Miss Snead looked and Mrs. Brady yelled, “April fool,” but Edna laughed last because there was a red bird sitting on the tree.”
Telling tales, tall or otherwise, is all part of April Fools’ Day fun. Lancaster County has its share of tall tales, too, which may or may not be entirely true. Here are a few from the video series “Legends of Lancaster,” which you’ll find in our LancLife section:
Did famed 7-foot strong man Jack Fasig really say, "Gee, but that tickled," after letting a train run over his back when an old railroad bridge washed out west of Manheim?
That may be one for the April Fools' category, but Fasig was reportedly a "physical marvel," who accomplished many amazing feats, including lifting a horse off the ground.
Did a naked man with a long white beard really live 40 feet below street level in Mount Joy in the 18th century?
Legend has it the man fled to Lancaster from Scotland after killing his evil stepmother. Believing he was recognized here, he headed for the hinterlands and lived underground for years.
Did a small, hairy creature really terrorize picnickers at Chickies Rock in the 1800s by stealing their apples and pelting them with the cores?
No one knows for sure, but the miniature Bigfoot is now the inspiration for an annual fall festival in Columbia.