The April Fool Archive:
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April Fool's Day, 1941
Gigantica fibicus. (1941) The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported that an enormous prehistoric lizard, Gigantica fibicus, was spotted crawling ashore somewhere on the Hawaiian islands. Photographic evidence was provided.
Flight to the Moon. (1941) New York City's Hayden Planetarium advertised that at 2 o'clock on April 1st the "first non-stop rocket ship flight to the moon" would take place, leaving from the planetarium. The announcement was accompanied by an illustration by artist Tom Voter.
Before the actual "flight," the Planetarium offered a clarification: "The only April Fool element in this miracle flight is that the 240,000 miles of space between the earth and the moon will be spanned in the comfort of the imagination, aided by trick photography, weird lighting effects and a realistic reproduction of the fantastic lunar landscapes."
Black Bombers. (1941) The Elkhart Daily Truth detailed a plan to create a protective air fleet for Indiana at low cost by attaching miniature, eight-ounce bombs to 25,000 crows, which would be trained to release the bombs on the enemy. The report included a photograph of one of the "Black Bombers." The "bomb" in the picture was really a salt shaker, and the crow was stuffed.
Although the crow bombers were an April Fool's day joke, there really was a plan developed and tested by the U.S. military during World War II to create "bat bombs" by strapping incendiary devices to bats, and then dropping the bats on Japanese cities.
Flood Strikes Lewiston. (1941) Maine's Lewiston Evening Journal ran a photo on its front page showing downtown Lewiston flooded. The caption offered the following explanation:
High water Hulett square? Sure, it's an April Fool joke, but just how the picture was taken is the photographer's own private little joke. The picture was taken this morning, definitely. The public works department crew was NOT called upon to open hydrants. The photographer did NOT get his feet wet. Store clerks and bank tellers did NOT have to take to the lifeboats. Asked 'how' as well as when, where, and why, the photographer said 'it is understood from a reliable source that magic can be produced with mirrors.'
Rue Maurice Thorez. (1941) The Vichy government in France arrested 13 people on the charge of participating in a "Communist April Fool day plot" to rename streets in Marseille after the exiled Communist leader Maurice Thorez. The police made the arrests after finding a large quantity of signs reading "Maurice Thorez Street" (or "Rue Maurice Thorez") designed to be placed over the regular street signs in the city.
Speechmaker Fools Congress. (1941) Robert Fleming Rich, a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, was known for making a heated one-minute speech almost every day the House was in session. His constant subject was the national debt. His constant refrain was, "Where are we going to get the money?"
On April 1st, looking grimmer than ever, he rose as usual and demanded sixty seconds of the House's time. Consent was granted. He cleared his throat and then grinned. "April Fool," he declared and sat down. He was greeted by tumultuous applause.