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April Fools indeed

GAYS MILLS - April Fool’s Day has a cloudy and uncertain history. There is a lot of confusion about just when it started and what it all means. It has been ‘celebrated’ for several centuries however and will no doubt continue. April Fool’s Day tricks, hoaxes and pranks should, I think we all agree, be done in good and not harmful fun. 

My own personal theory is that at this time of year people are ready to have some fun after a long winter and this cultural tradition fits right in with that sentiment. Businesses and radio stations have joined in the fun with practical jokes and hoaxes. The famous 1938 radio broadcast, ‘War of the Worlds’ comes to mind. In 2015, Cottonelle advertised that they were introducing left-handed toilet paper. 

The simplest prank is often the best. Several years ago, a friend of mine woke up on the 1st of April to find a genuine real estate ‘For Sale’ sign on his lawn. It didn’t take the amused couple long to track down the culprit - a serial jokester in their circle of friends. But of course in a small town and when you live on the main highway, people asked for weeks if they had sold their house yet.

One needn’t wait until April to stage a good gag. My family went on a summer trip once and I stayed behind (work-related). My brother Dan’s friend enlisted my aid to completely fill his room, loosely, with wadded up newspaper. It took us about two hours and a lot of paper to fill the room completely–we exited the crime scene through a window. Dan got revenge (I helped him with that) by stuffing the friend’s car, tightly, while he was at work, with some of the paper from his room.

I pulled a prank last summer that was so good I stopped doing it. I took an old plastic travel mug and bolted a strong magnet to its base. The visual of driving along with a ‘forgotten’ mug of coffee on the roof worked great, up to about 35 miles an hour. The few times I tried it around town elicited some reactions that didn’t seem safe as other drivers tried to alert me to the gag.

One April 1, I wrote a column that Sarah and I were moving to California to work on an organic vegetable farm, Organic Coast Gardens, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I fleshed the story out with lots of juicy details. Even though I put ‘April Fools’ at the end of the column, people asked me for weeks when I was leaving. Made me wonder if they were disappointed!

I started writing this column along about April 1, 2004, so this marks approximately the start of my seventeenth year. It’s a little hard for me to believe. Theoretically, I have produced 832 columns in the past 16 years, although I have re-submitted a few, when I was rushed for time or drew a blank for ideas. I hope you enjoy reading ‘Drift From a Driftless Place’ as much as I enjoy writing it.  Thanks to all of you who have commented favorably on my work.