Poorly Received April Fool's Day Hoaxes
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 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.
“Berri Berri Funny”.
Israel Radio broadcast that Nabih Berri, leader of the Shi'ite Amal movement, had been assassinated. The news caused an immediate flaring of tensions in the region. However, Israeli officials quickly denounced the report as a hoax. The false report was traced back to an army intelligence officer who had planted the news item in the broadcasts of the Israeli Army's intelligence monitoring unit, from which it had been picked up by Israel Radio. Israel's Defence Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, announced that the unnamed officer would be court-martialed. Most commentators found the hoax to be in poor taste. "Berri Berri funny," one foreign correspondent commented.
Campus Parody Turns Ugly.
Thomas Auclair, editor of The Beacon, the campus newspaper of North Adams State College, got into trouble when he ran a story declaring that the school's president, Catherine A. Tissinger, was running a telephone-sex service. The school's president responded by accusing the paper of sex discrimination and asked the Student Government Association to investigate the matter. The Student Government voted to remove Auclair from his position as editor.
Bank Teller Fees.
The Savings Bank of Rockville, a small, Connecticut-based bank, placed an ad in the Journal-Inquirer announcing that from that point forward it would be charging a $5 fee to customers who visited a live teller. The ad, which appeared on March 31, claimed that the fee was necessary in order to provide, "professional, caring and superior customer service." Although the ad was a joke, many customers did not perceive it as such. One woman reportedly closed her account at the bank because of it. The bank ran a second ad later revealing that the initial ad was a joke. The bank manager commented that the ad really "commits us to not charging such fees."
Abbey National, a British bank, revealed an April Fool's Day joke that never came to fruition. It planned to offer its customers the ability to download and print money from their home computer. An Abbey National employee said, ""We were going to say that it would suit all those couch potatoes who don't want to go to the bank to get their money out. We would make available a system where you could download money from your personal computer and print it out on paper at home." However, the Bank of England, citing concerns about encouraging forgery, strongly advised Abbey National not to proceed with their joke.
I’m Here To Take Money.
A 57-year-old woman stopped at a Wells Fargo Bank in Brainerd, Massachusetts to make a withdrawal. After concluding her transaction, as a joke she handed the teller a note that read, "I'm here to take money." The teller called the police and told them the bank was being robbed. By the time the police arrived, the woman had left, but they later picked her up and charged her with disorderly conduct.
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.