Notable April Fool's Day Hoaxes by Newspapers
The Boston Globe Price Cut.
Readers of the Boston Morning Globe could have purchased their papers for half the cost on April Fool's Day, if they had been alert. The price listed on the front page had been lowered from "Two Cents Per Copy" to "One Cent." But almost 60,000 copies of the paper were sold before anyone noticed the unannounced price change. When the management of the Globe found out about the change, they were just as surprised as everyone else. The new price turned out to be the responsibility of a mischievous production worker who had surreptitiously inserted the lower value at the last minute as the paper went to print.
Kokomo Police Cut Costs.
The Kokomo Tribune announced that the city police had devised a plan to cut costs and save money. According to this plan, the police station would close each night from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. An answering machine would record all calls made to the station during this time, and these calls would be screened by an officer in the morning. The police reportedly anticipated that the screening process would save the city a great deal of money, since many of the calls would be old by the morning and would not need to be answered. A spokesman for the police admitted, "there will be a problem on what to do in the case of a woman who calls in and says her husband has threatened to shoot her or some member of the family." But in such a situation, the spokesman explained, "We will check the hospitals and the coroner, and if they don't have any record of any trouble, then we will know that nothing happened."
Dogs to be painted white.
Politiken, a Copenhagen newspaper, reported that the Danish parliament had passed a new law requiring all dogs to be painted white. The purpose of this, it explained, was to increase road safety by allowing dogs to be seen more easily at night. [Appleton Post-Crescent, Apr 1, 1965.]
Pennsylvania Capitol Building Collapses.
The Patriot (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) published a photograph of the state capitol building collapsing. A caption below the picture read, “Custodian A.F. Day said the blast occurred during a joint House-Senate session addressed by Hubert Humphrey and Gov. Milton Shapp… Day attributed the explosion to an abnormal expansion of hot air which usually is absorbed by acoustic seats in the chamber.“ The hoax elicited negative comments from many readers who accused the paper of “confusing fun with irresponsibility.“ Two days later the paper apologized for the hoax and promised that it would never publish another. The hoax recalled a similar April Fool’s Day joke published by the Madison Capital-Times in 1933.
The Talking Pelican.
The Sunday News-Journal in Daytona Beach reported the discovery of a talking pelican, found by a Georgia tourist, Sam P. Suggins, when the pelican asked Suggins for fish as he was walking along a dock. Unfortunately the pelican would not talk to anyone else. Nor was it very bright, as Suggins remarked that it said “Kitty” while looking at a small dog. The article noted that there have been recorded instances of sailors teaching pelicans to speak, just as parrots can be taught to speak, and theorized that this must have been such a case.
Radiation Rouses Prehistoric Creatures.
Frank Jones, of the Toronto Star, reported that radiation leaking into Lake Ontario was causing prehistoric creatures to crawl up out of the lake and onto the shores of Ward’s Island.
Gazette Buys New London Day.
The Connecticut Gazette, a small weekly newspaper, announced that it was purchasing the New London Day, a large daily newspaper. The article also announced the Gazette planned to expand the news staff of the New London Day “by cutting it in half—literally, at the waist; this would create twice as many reporters although, of course, they would be half their former stature.“ The article concluded with an “April Fool.“ Nevertheless, according to the paper’s editor their phones were ringing off the hook for weeks. In addition, the fictitious purchase was reported as fact in the New England Printer and Publisher, a trade journal.
CBS Newsmen Buy Local Weekly.
The Connecticut Gazette, a weekly paper based in Old Lyme, Connecticut, announced it was being purchased by the CBS newsmen Walter Cronkite and Charles Kuralt, who owned a vacation home in nearby Essex, Connecticut. Although the story was not true, it was picked up by the New York Post and run as fact several months later. The Post was forced to admit its blunder several days later.
The Michigan Shark Experiment.
The Herald-News in Roscommon, Michigan reported that 3 lakes in northern Michigan had been selected to host "an in-depth study into the breeding and habits of several species of fresh-water sharks." Two thousand sharks were to be released into the lakes including blue sharks, hammerheads, and a few great whites. The experiment was designed to determine whether the sharks could survive in the cold climate of Michigan, and apparently the federal government was spending $1.3 million to determine this. A representative from the National Biological Foundation was quoted as saying that there would probably be a noticeable decline in the populations of other fish in the lake because "the sharks will eat about 20 pounds of fish each per day, more as they get older."
County officials were said to have protested the experiment, afraid of the hazard it would pose to fishermen and swimmers, but their complaints had been ignored by the federal government. Furthermore, fishermen had been forbidden from catching the sharks. The report concluded by again quoting the National Biological Foundation representative, who said that "We can't be responsible for people if they are attacked. Besides,
Hong Kong Powdered Water.
The South China Morning Post announced that a solution to Hong Kong’s water shortage was at hand. First, scientists had found a way to drain the clouds surrounding the island’s peak of their water by electrifying them via antennae erected on the peak. The paper warned that this might have a negative impact on surrounding property values, but the government had approved the project nevetheless. Second, more clouds could be attracted to the region by means of a weather satellite positioned over India. And finally, packets of powdered water imported from China would be distributed to all the residents of Hong Kong. A single pint of water added to this powdered water would magically transform into ten pints of drinkable water.
Hong Kong’s radio shows were flooded with calls from people eager to discuss these solutions to the water shortage. Many of the calls were supportive of the plans, but one woman pointed out that the pumps needed to supply powdered water would be too complicated and expensive.
Tass Expands into American Market.
The Connecticut Gazette and Connecticut Compass, weekly newspapers serving the Old Lyme and Mystic areas, both announced they were being purchased by Tass, the official news agency of the Soviet Union. On their front pages they declared that this was "the first expansion of the Soviet media giant outside of the Iron Curtain." The article also revealed that after Tass had purchased the Compass, its two publishers had both been killed by "simultaneous hunting accidents" in which they had shot each other in the back of the head with "standard-issue Soviet Army rifles." An accompanying picture showed Gazette and Compass staff members wearing winter coats and fur hats, and carrying hockey sticks and bottles of vodka.
The announcement itself was bylined "By John Reed," and the new publisher, Vydonch U. Kissov, announced that the paper would be "thoroughly red." A new delivery system was also promised: cruise missiles (the publisher then admitted that this proposal was a 'leetle Soviet joke.') In response to the news, the offices of the Compass and the Gazette received calls offering condolences for the death of the publishers. One caller also informed them that he had long suspected
The Durand Auto Plant.
The Durand Express, a Michigan weekly, reported that Nissan planned to build an auto plant outside of Durand City. The new plant was going to employ thousands of people and pay higher wages than the nearby General Motors plant. Furthermore, Nissan would pay farmers $10,000 an acre for the land on which the plant was to be built.
Many unemployed auto workers believed the story and inquired about how to apply for jobs at the plant. However, the story was exposed as a fake by a reporter working at a newspaper in Flint, Michigan.
The prank story attracted a lot of angry criticism. Many readers threatened to cancel their subscriptions. In response, the paper's editor explained that he hadn't been trying to hurt anyone, and thought that he had exaggerated his story enough to make it unbelievable.
The Guardian announced that under a new incentive plan, each of its readers would be eligible to receive a "Guardian Gourmet Card," allowing them to gain a 15% discount at participating restaurants. The card would also allow holders to be eligible for 850,000 pounds in prize money. Each card would display a ten digit number broken into a sequence of three-four-three. Each week top chefs would be asked to select their favorite three course dinner. A menu would be randomly selected from among these choices, and then the total calories in each course would be determined. These calorie amounts would become the prize-winning number, to be matched against the numbers on a card.
In a separate article, the Guardian admitted there was some similarity between their Gourmet bingo game and a bingo-style scheme launched by their competitor, the Standard, to earn reductions on restaurant meals (a scheme which the Guardian had derided as tawdry and commercial). But the Guardian's editor noted: "I cannot of course deny that there is pounds 850,000 at stake here... Nevertheless the whole tone and refined taste of the competition, redolent of wild strawberries rather than the sweaty armpits of the
Families limited to .75 children.
The Rivereast News Bulletin (Glastonbury, Connecticut) announced that the city's Board of Education had devised a plan to eliminate overcrowding in classrooms. The plan was to forbid families from having more than .75 children per household for the next 15 years. The Board of Education admitted that it had not yet figured out how families could limit themselves to .75 children, but that a computer had determined that this was the ideal number. It was suggested that families unhappy with this ruling move to California. The Board added that the new ruling would not become law for another ten months. Therefore, parents who wanted more than .75 children were urged to "get started this afternoon."
Imelda Marcos Auction.
TagesAnzeiger, a daily Zurich newspaper, reported that an auction of Imelda Marcos's clothes and jewelry was to be held at the Swiss Volksbank. Almost 30 people showed up for it.
Le Sac Pourii.
The Nashville Banner reported on the latest, trendsetting fashion from France—waterproof outer garments dubbed "Le Sac Pourii" by their designers. The garments strongly resembled plastic garbage bags.
Privatizing the Army.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Margaret Thatcher was considering privatizing the Army and selling off the Brigade of Guards. According to the article, "Strict flotation terms would prevent hostile foreign interests gaining majority control over the brigade."
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