The April Fool Archive:
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April Fool's Day, 1971
Flight Over the Thames. (1971) Ken Piper, former paratrooper, tried to fly over the Thames River by jumping off the Twickenham Bridge with wings attached to his arms. He flapped the wings and fell into the water. When he regained dry land, he said, "It was a good one for April Fool's Day."
A few months later, Mr. Piper returned to the news on account of his cabaret act in which he cracked a thick slab of concrete by means of a head-on collision with his head.
Snow Flower. (1971) "Observe the flowers, how they grow — but in Central Park, in the snow? Free Press photographer Jack Ablett and reporter Janice Keys just happened to be strolling in the park Thursday — April Fools' Day, you remember — when they spotted this rare sight." [Winnipeg Free Press - Apr 1, 1971]
Gerald Burley Honored. (1971) BBC radio honored Gerald Burley, winner of the "Ettore Savini Memorial Prize." The program included taped tributes to the anthropologist and philanthropist from well-known persons, including violinist Yehudi Menuhin and the Bishop of Southwark. However, Gerald Burley was entirely nonexistent. A BBC spokesman reported that they later received a call from a woman claiming to be Gerald Burley's mistress demanding to know, "Why wasn't I asked to appear?"
Norwegian Tax Rebate. (1971) Norway's Aftenposten ran a front-page article reporting that an error by data company EDB had caused tax returns to be "eaten up." An accompanying photo showed a technician struggling with tangled data tape.
Taxpayers in Oslo and Bærum were being asked to submit new tax returns. However, those who submitted the returns by the end of that day, April 1st, were promised a 10% rebate on their taxes.
Europeans To Drive On Left Side. (1971) French state-run radio announced that European motorists would soon be required to drive on the left side of the road, in order to help British drivers when they joined the Common Market. Almost immediately the radio station began receiving hundreds of phone calls from enraged French motorists. As a result, the station quickly confessed that the story was a hoax.
Texas Honors the Boston Strangler. (1971) The Texas House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution honoring Albert DeSalvo, noting he had been "officially recognized by the state of Massachusetts for his noted activities and unconventional techniques involving population control and applied psychology."
DeSalvo was more widely known as the "Boston Strangler." He had confessed to killing 13 women. The resolution was sponsored by Representatives Tom Moore and Lane Denton, who said they intended to demonstrate that "No one reads these bills or resolutions."
Udder Confusion. (1971) "This handsome Holstein, owned by Marvin Vaerst of rural Bemidji, has her directions mixed up. Unlike most cows, she has her milking apparatus to the fore, rather than aft — a condition which has won her entry in Ripley's 'Believe It or Not' and a feature in the national Holstein magazine, 'Cow'. The bovine beauty, despite her peculiarities, has been pronounced fit by veterinarians and Vaerst claims she is one of the best milk producers in his herd. There are some difficulties with 'Confused Cathy', as Vaerst calls her: at calving time, her offspring usually heads to the wrong end for nourishment and has to be taught where dinner can be found. (Pioneer Photo by Lirpa Loof)" [Bemidji Daily Pioneer - Apr 1, 1971]