Monday, April 1, 2024

April Fools' Day – 1939 & 1949

Today is April Fools' Day, the day traditionally associated with practical jokes and pranks. 

Most of us, however, probably won't be expecting a hoax or joke played on us any more than any other day. (Thanks to social media, practical jokes are played on unsuspecting victims all year round now, and are promptly unloaded to TikTok, YouTube, etc.)

On April Fools' Day, we're much more likely to encounter a lame 'fake' news story on our local TV news broadcasts (mixed in with the real fake news stories).

Similarly, over the years, the Lorain Journal has occasionally observed April Fools' Day in the form of phony news stories, made all the more convincing when accompanied with retouched photos. There was the article about the High Level Bridge collapsing on April 1, 1947. And then there was the story on April 1, 1953 about the freighter running aground at Lakeview Park.

For this year's April Fools' Day blog post, I went a-hunting for more of that kind of thing. Alas, those two stories were the exception. But here are a few April 1st front pages that do acknowledge the day.

First up is this front page from April 1, 1939. 

Note the small article entitled, "Lest Ye Forget." It states, "Lorain pranksters today were having their annual All-Fools' day circus – yes sir, just a circus!

"The old reliable, soap-center candy made its appearance early in the day. Morning rain somewhat hampered boys who specialize in tricking pedestrians with purses tied to strings.
"Sgt. Chester Deeter, on duty at the police station desk, reported 30 calls in one hour from persons who thought it would be fun to ask the police silly questions, such as: "Is this the Whitehouse?" or "Can you tell me whether it's raining in Oskaloosa?"
It's hilarious (and quaint) to think of young Lorain street urchins, fooling people on Broadway with purses being pulled along by a hard-to-see string. But the prank phone calls to the police would be a big no-no today.
I like the story about "You Bring Ducks, Chief Will Do the Cooking." Most people don't know that "You bring the duck," was a saying by none other than Popeye's pal, Wimpy long before his "I'd gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." Wimpy would invite someone for a duck dinner at his house – and then add the comical stipulation!
But what about the row of photos at the bottom, with several familiar faces? Why was it a big day for them? The continuation of the story had the answer.
Under "Here's Why," it is revealed that all of the photos were of regular people who happened to resemble a famous person (like Eleanor Roosevelt).
Note that by posting the whole page, I snuck in an early Reddy Kilowatt ad! Reddy offers tips about safely flying kites (something he did here too).
Ten years later on April 1, 1949, the front page of the Lorain Journal mentioned April Fools' Day – but only in the context of a prank by nature "as she hurled a final wintry attack at midwest and eastern areas of the nation.
"Snow flurries were all that Lorain received of a light snow which fell over much of New York State, Pennsylvania and W. Virginia as the leading edge of a vast storm area moved into the Atlantic coast and New England areas."
Probably the most interesting thing on the page is the article about "It's Rose Time For City Park Emploes." It notes, "Also at Lakeview the big concrete flower basket will soon get its spring coat of paint and in two weeks – the night before Easter – will be filled with big bright concrete Easter eggs.
But it's the next sentence that's most important. "Taller than the Lakeview basket and round instead of oblong is a new three and a half ton basket made by park employes during the winter. It is on skids now ready to be moved to the corner of Clinton-av and 31st-st at Oakwood Park.
So we finally have a timeline for the installation of Lorain's "other" Easter Basket.
And a final note (and this is no joke). Today is the fifteenth anniversary of this blog! Who'd a thunk it would last this long? 


-Alan D Hopewell said...

Happy Anniversary, Dan!
Here's a wee bit for them's what don't wanna be fools, April or otherwise...

-Alan D Hopewell said...

A favorite oldie...

Buster said...

Happy anniversary, Dan. It takes a LOT of work to publish daily for that long!

Dan Brady said...

Thanks for the anniversary wishes!