KEEP YOUR GUARD UP - UNTIL TUESDAY
BY SAM BLACKBURN
The dictionary avers that origin of April Fool's Day is unknown. It explains that it is a day, as every fool knows, when persons addicted to practical jokes pursue their hobby with relentless determination. Always, if you please, on April 1.The dictionary insists that the practical jokers engage in "harmless" pranks on their fellows on that date. The dictionary is filled with understatements but this is a deliberate misrepresentation of the truth. Check the news wires on Tuesday and find out what developed from some of the "harmless" practical jokes perpetrated in celebration of April Fool's Day. The encyclopedia, unlike the dictionary, goes out on a limb. It skirts the statement the dictionary makes that the origin of this universally observed day is lost in antiquity. The encyclopedia has a theory on its origin. It relates that in ancient times, the universal practice in France was to go calling on one's friends on April 1. This must have been most confusing. Suppose one's friends had gone calling on you at the same time? However, be that as it may, the custom of making calls on April 1 was not intended to be a joke in any sense but a "foolish" escape. It was a hospitable gesture celebrated because April 1 fell exactly one week after New Year's day.
Wait a minute — that's right. Just one week after New Year's day was April 1 and the practice was to make social calls on that date. Of course, the catch in the statement is — folk in France (and all over the world in fact) were operating then on the Julian calendar. Under the Julian calendar, New Year's day was just one week before April l— on March 24 as we measure dates. When the Gregorian calendar replaced the Julian, it was a long way from New Year to April 1. But the French carried on —they kept right on calling their friends on April l "for a joke." It could have been mildy amusing, one assumes. Suppose that you dropped in unexpectedly on your friends and they had not given the matter that it was April l any thought? The friends not expecting any callers. The wife is doing the family wash, maybe. The husband is painting the barn. Think how funny if you and your family, dressed fit to kill, popped in for a call! It was just killing!
As time passed, this form of joke began to lose its zest. Pranksters— the habitual practical jokers — dreamed up other antics. The coin, heated almost red hot, and dropped on a side walk where the passerby would blister his fingers picking it up. The bucket of water balanced precariously over a door in such a manner that when the door was opened the water would douse the “victim”. The happy idea -of calling up one's acquaintance on the phone at 2 a. m. and asking blithely "Is this 1-9-5-8?" When he sleepily replies that it is not, the snappy rejoinder— "Think not bud? Look at the calendar." All sorts of clever things like that!
So April Fool's Day goes on and on and the jokes, as old as the day itself, are repeated year after year. Monday is April Fool's day. There are practical jokers in this community. They have to be endured much as the dust storms have to be endured. The jokers will be at their pranks.
Do not kick a hat you see on the sidewalk, tempting though impulse may be. That hat's probably got a brick inside it. Don't grab at the billfold you see on the street. There's a string attached to yank it back out of your hands. Don't believe half of what you're told and not even half of what you see.
Not until Tuesday, April 2.
Hot coin? Brick in a hat? Pure gold baby!
Here's one other 50's print piece on Fool's Day