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By Roz Rogoff

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About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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April Fool's Day?

Uploaded: Apr 1, 2014

Who decided that the first day of April was a day for us to play pranks on each other? I wanted to know where and why this tradition started. So I went to the place of all information, true and false – Wikipedia. It's dangerous to visit Wikipedia on April Fool's Day because anyone can post anything, which is what a Wiki is -- an online invitation to add whatever you want.

Here's the opening paragraph for April Fools' Day on Wikipedia, "April Fools' Day (sometimes called All Fools' Day) is an informal holiday celebrated every year on April 1. Popular since medieval times, the day is not a national holiday in any country, but it is widely recognized throughout European cultures and celebrated as a day when people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other, called April fools. Hoax stories are also often found in the press and media on this day."

Today's blog isn't a hoax story, but it is a story about hoaxes. I shall travel down my memory lane, one which is strewn with many potholes, to regale you with merry tales of pranks past.

One trick we thought was funny back in the 1950s was putting ground pepper on flowers or in a matchbox and giving it to another kid to sniff. This usually resulted in sneezing which the prankster thought was hysterical. I was tricked by this early and then inflicted it on other younger kids in my neighborhood. I think it came from old "Our Gang Kids" movies which were being shown a lot on TV in those days.

I pulled a similar prank on my sister when she was 3. She was just starting to eat regular food. We had some lemon slices on the table, maybe for tea, and I thought it would be funny to give her one. She put the lemon wedge in her mouth and spit it out and made a face, which I thought was very funny.

A lot of April tomfoolery involved switching one thing for another, like putting salt in the sugar bowl or regular peanut butter in the Skippy jar. Skippy was the first processed peanut butter that didn't stick to the roof of your mouth like original peanut butter did. So when we made a sandwich with what we thought was Skippy, it stuck in our mouths and we couldn't talk for a few minutes.

I bought a can of carrot juice at a new health food store near my house. Health food stores were small and not very common in the 1950s. I switched my father's orange juice with the carrot juice. He took a sip and made a face. He said it didn't taste like orange juice. I laughed and said it was carrot juice. That health food store probably did their best business the last week in March.

I out grew April Fools jokes in College, but I pulled one last one when I was working at Hughes Aircraft in the 1980s. I was Supervisor of the Training Section and my Friend Steve Murphy was Supervisor of the Tech Writers. We had a Mac room with early Macintosh computers for the trainers and Tech Writers to use for manuals and training materials.

Macs were much better at combining text and graphics than early PCs and they were WYSIWYG. I had a playful moment where I thought it would be funny to switch the keyboards with the monitors. There were three Macs in the Mac room all on a long table with chairs for the writers and trainers to come in and use one. I took the keyboard from Mac #1 and put it in front of Mac #2 and the keyboard from Mac #2 in front of Mac #1. I left Mac #3 connected to its original keyboard.

Steve came in to use the Mac Room. I was there working on Mac #3 and acting like everything was fine. Steve started on Mac #1 but nothing happened on his screen. He thought it might be broken.

He moved to Mac #2 and still nothing happened on the screen in front of him. I was secretly enjoying the joke, but he finally noticed that what he typed on Mac #2 was showing up on Mac #1. So he switched the keyboards back.

I said "April Fool!" but he was not amused. I told him to leave them switched, but he needed to get work done and didn't want to play games. So that was the end of my April fool's foolishness. I'm too old for these kinds of pranks now or maybe not old enough yet.

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