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April Fool's Day, 1956

An Egyptian Delegation. (1956) The mayors of the Italian towns of Siena and San Gimignano received telegrams informing them that on the following day (April 1) a student delegation from the Superior Institute of Agriculture of Cairo, Egypt would visit their town. The next day the delegation arrived, visiting San Gimignano first where they were greeted by the mayor and town officials.

The delegation next visited Siena, where they were again greeted by town officials: "The secretary general invited the guests to the buffet set up in the next room to toast the future of the Egyptian republic. This was too much for the thirsty youngsters, who had spotted the inviting vermouth bottles. And suddenly dropping their masquerade they downed the forbidden fluid and revealed their true identities." They were actually local students dressed in Arabian costumes. The secretary general of Siena had failed to recognize his own son among them. [Chicago Daily Tribune - Apr 1, 1956]

Inventor of the Period. (1956) Writing in The Saturday Review, K. Jason Sitewell discussed the biography of Kohmar Pehriad (544-493 BC), inventor of punctuation in written language, and more specifically of the period. Pehriad traveled throughout Ancient Greece, Rome, Persia, North Africa, and Asia promoting the use of the period. He also promoted use of the comma, which, like the period, was subsequently named after him (Kohmar). His son, Apos-Trophe Pehriad, introduced further markings, such as quotation marks and apostrophes. "The period did not come about by accident," Sitewell noted. "Someone had to invent it and fight for it."

Mao Tse-tung Blasts Stalin. (1956) The English-language China News revealed that its monitors had heard Peiping Radio (official propaganda organ of Red China) quote Mao Tse-tung referring to Stalin as a "slavedriver, murderer, and doublecrosser." Two Chinese-language papers, the Central Daily News and the Hsin Sheng Pao (mouthpiece of the Formosa provincial government) both subsequently ran the story on their front pages, not realizing that tbe report was intended as a joke "in line with the spirit of April Fools' Day," as The China News later explained.

Talking Goldfish. (1956) The Billings Gazette reported that a local resident had trained his goldfish to communicate by means of bubbles. Two bubbles meant 'No.' One bubble meant 'Yes.' Although sometimes the goldfish gave incorrect answers. For instance, when asked if he was a fake talking fish, the goldfish produced one bubble. [The Billings Gazette - Apr 1, 1956]

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