The Museum of Hoaxes
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Dead Body of Loch Ness Monster Found, 1972
Stotham, Massachusetts: the town that didn't exist, 1920
Fake Fish Photos
Vilcabamba, the town of very old people, 1978
The Nazi Air Marker Hoax, 1942
The Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, 1959
Dog wins art contest, 1974
The Great Electric Sugar Swindle, 1884
BMW's April Fool's Day Hoaxes
The boy with the golden tooth, 1593
Win a Free Book
image One of the great things about having a website is that occasionally people send me free stuff, out of the blue. For instance, a British publisher named Harriman House sent me three copies of The Life & Death of Rochester Sneath by Humphry Berkeley. Since I don't have a use for three copies of the book, I've decided to give the two extra copies away.

But first, what is the book about? It documents a classic British public school hoax from the 1940s. Headmasters at elite British public schools such as Eton and Rugby began receiving letters from H. Rochester Sneath who described himself as a fellow Headmaster from Selhurst School nearth Petworth, Sussex. Sneath had many bizarre questions for his colleagues. For instance, he wanted to know how to deal with an infestation of rats, how to go about 'engineering' a royal visit, or whether it was advisable to provide special 'sex ed' instruction for the school maids. Remarkably, most of the headmasters believed that Sneath was a real person and responded seriously. Of course, Sneath wasn't real. He was the creation of Humphry Berkeley, who at the time was a student at Cambridge. When the hoax was exposed Berkeley was expelled for two years. This book collects together all of Sneath's letters and the responses he received. It's very short, taking about an hour to read, at most. But if you like British humor it's a classic, because Sneath perfectly skewers the pompous self-importance of the British upper class.

So here's what I have in mind. Since the book is about a school prank, post a description of a school prank in the comments section. Perhaps something that you participated in or have heard about. I'll choose the two pranks that I find the most amusing (and original) and send the winners a free copy of the book. Make sure that you include your email address in the appropriate box (though your email won't be publicly displayed... only I can see when people have entered email addresses, so that spammers can't harvest addresses from this site), otherwise I won't have any way of notifying you if you win. I'll let the contest run for a week before I choose the winner.
Categories: Miscellaneous, Pranks
Posted by The Curator on Sun Oct 03, 2004
Comments (38)
At my high school, there is an administrator named Frank Mastrangelo, whose official title I believe is "Dean of Students". It's his job to enforce the rules of the school. So, late one Sunday evening a group of students snuck into the school. They decided that he needed some more paperwork to do - they filled his entire office, floor to ceiling, with shredded paper. Photos are at:

http://files.comclub.org/frankoffice/

Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of his response the next morning.
--Quentin
Posted by Quentin Smith  in  Hollis, NH  on  Sun Oct 03, 2004  at  04:44 PM
My father, when he was graduating, decided to pull a prank on his school. In his school there was this old bench with all of the senior's names on it, appropriately called "The Senior Bench". The bench was secure in the ground, and it took about 15 minutes, the length of their break time, to get it off from the floor. Then, wearing no masks or anything, they hauled it out to their car and threw it in. Then they decided to hide it in my grandfather's garage. And there it sits. They tried getting it down for a reunion, but new construction on the garage rendered it impossible. The original use of the bench was to cut it up and give each piece to a student, an idea my father and his friends abhorred and thought was incredibly stupid. So now it's stuck, full size, above an old garage in California.
Posted by Zup  on  Sun Oct 03, 2004  at  05:16 PM
I could have swore I put in my e-mail...
Posted by Zup  in  OR  on  Sun Oct 03, 2004  at  05:17 PM
My poli sci teacher told that students used to put nude pics in the pull down maps as a prank but "they can't pull that on me anymore because I'm on them now".
Well that was a challenge. The next day we pulled the map down and did not insert a picture. We taped the picture to the board behind it. He walked in and saw the map pulled partially down he smiled. He then carfefully checked each one then so noone could see. Feeling safe he then gave it a small jerk to raise it and turned away. That "safe" action then exposed the picture underneath. Since his back was turned he did not see it for a moment and we all got a laugh at his expense.
So never brag that you "have our number". We change the rules.
Posted by gunner  in  Nashville  on  Sun Oct 03, 2004  at  06:26 PM
in grade 7, i had a really proper english teacher.
in addition to her perfect english, she was grouchy.
one day a bunch of my friend decided we'd had enough of her garbage and brought rope and duct tape to school.

on the day we had decided to pull off our plan, we had a pop quiz. everyone rushed her desk on cue, and we bound her to her chair and carried her off to the main office. the moment could have been a scene in a movie.

we left her in front of the door and headed back to class. after 30 minutes had passed, the school principal finally noticed her sitting there with tape over her mouth and helped her out. we never really got in trouble for our prank, she just told us that she'd get us back someday..
Posted by kurto  on  Sun Oct 03, 2004  at  07:02 PM
"I could have swore I put in my e-mail...
Posted by Zup on Sun Oct 03, 2004 at 12:17 PM"

ditto.
Posted by kurto  on  Sun Oct 03, 2004  at  07:07 PM
Your email isn't supposed to display anywhere. I can see it when I log into the administrative control panel for the site. But the public can't see it. I've intentionally made the comments page like that so that spammers can't harvest emails from this site.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Sun Oct 03, 2004  at  09:54 PM
I doubt I'll win anything, because this prank wasn't that cool or ingenious, but I'll post it anyway. Back when I graduated from high school, we all assembled to wait to get into line to enter the ceremony. A bag of marbles was passed down the line of students, each one take a single marble and palming it so that the teachers couldn't see. So, with 165 students holding marbles we went up to receive our diplomas, each time slipping the marble into the principles hand and walking away as fast as possible so that he could not stop us. Our principle, not wishing to interuppt the ceremony pocketed each marble, and at the end, had all the marbles somewhere on his person. It was funny to watch him get angry and find places to stick the marbles on his suit...we got reprimanded for it, of course, but it was worth the prank.
Posted by Elizabeta  in  Massachusetts  on  Sun Oct 03, 2004  at  10:55 PM
Whew.. School pranks.. Ok, I've got a few. Sadly, I was only involved with the first two:

1: Our Computer Science teacher in HS hates smiley faces, so we made it our job in life to fill her life with them (we managed to sneak about five thousand of them into her home, but that's another story), but she also hated the computers making sounds.. you get twenty compys all going *beep beep*, it drives ya nuts.. So we carefully arranged for every Macintosh in there to play a sound file of Daffy Duck going 'Woo woo Wahoo!' at a preset time. Since the system clocks were all slightly off, the sounds played over the course of about an hour.. when none of us were there to be reprimanded.

2; We did the marble handshake thing too, only instead we had about three hundred Matchbox cars.. The much-hated new principal had a small pile of them at his feet by the end of the evening.

3: My father and his buddies, following a commercial of the time, filled a friend's locker with lemons, then went off with the school band. They later found out that after the initial amusing spill, the greatest lemon fight in the history of Balboa High took place, with the lemon juice bleaching spots on the concrete.

4: My high school has the obligitory wooden school sign out front, made of some nice bits of lumber, with big huge bolts. First day of school, the sign was removed, and replaced with one reading 'Abandon all hope'. Given that our school mascot is the Blue Devils..
Posted by Flynn Leek  in  California  on  Mon Oct 04, 2004  at  12:05 AM
There was this school where every morning a group of trusted students put together a set of announcements on a tape. This tape would be played in the office, and every t.v. in every room of the school would play the morning announcements. One day, the students handed in the tape, and it was played. Unknown to the faculty and staff, the tape was recorded over with a porn movie. The principal was informed very quickly, and the tape was stopped. This sounded like a funny prank to me.
Posted by Casey W.  in  Biloxi  on  Mon Oct 04, 2004  at  12:14 AM
When I was a sophmore in high school, our school had a new principal, and the seniors (of course) decided it would be funny pull a prank on the last day of school when the building was practically empty. The night before, they "pig-napped" several piglets from a nearby tourist attraction Old McDonald's Farm. They greased those babies up, put them in a sack, and smuggled them into the school. As soon as they were inside the building the pranksters let 'em go. The piglets were so scared they ran like heck, with every member of the administration and security staff running after them. The pranksters weren't allowed to participate in graduation, but it made a good story. Every major paper in the state ran it.
Posted by Cathy  on  Mon Oct 04, 2004  at  12:40 AM
At Live Oak high school, in CA, an outhouse was set up in the quad and surrounded by cow dung. Inside the outhouse was a skunk. So, when the administration got past the cow poop, they got skunked! Great prank!
Posted by Kathy Johnston  in  CA USA  on  Mon Oct 04, 2004  at  01:04 AM
I went to school with this real nerdy, slightly popular guy who was known for driving a little yellow Geo Metro. One day he got into a slight altercation with a very popular girl in school. When her boyfriend found out about it, he and several friends decided to give him a little payback. They snuck out of class and out into the parking lot and found his car. They picked it up and carried it onto the median and placed it perfectly between two no parking signs leaving only inches between the bumpers and the signs. This made it impossible for the car to be driven without taking out the signs. I don't remember how he managed to finally move his car but a picture of the car parked between the signs ended up in our senior yearbook.
Posted by Jellybelly  in  Dark side of the Moon  on  Mon Oct 04, 2004  at  01:10 AM
Given that I attended a Roman Catholic high school, it's no surprise that my french teacher was a priest. Father Haines was a bit strict on the rules, only pemitting french to be spoken in his classroom during the class period. He also had a pushbell (like a bellhop's), that sat on his desk to get our attention if we became noisy.

Much to his surprise, one day he entered the room to find a class of very quiet students and no bell to be seen.
"Ou est ma cloche? Personne? Ou est ma cloche!"

There was a few moments of silence before a quiet voice from the back of the room responded:
"Tu est tres froid."
Then Father Haines moved towards the back of the room to find out who had spoken. As he moved, a voice near the front piped up "Tu est plus froid"

An impromptu game of Hot-or Cold pursued,(in somewhat broken french), but as long as we continued without using english, Father Haines seemed amused enough to play along!
I know that this isn't the greatest prank of all time, but it was one where SOME education still took place! wink
Posted by Liz  in  Toronto  on  Mon Oct 04, 2004  at  01:24 AM
My college Computer Science teacher was ill, so they sent over a replacement. I don't think this lady really knew what she was talking about, she was probably just dictating some other teacher's notes. I decided to have a little fun at her expense: instead of starting the Borland C compiler which we were supposed to be using, I opened Borland Pascal, which looked roughly the same. Then I wrote an extremely simple C program, which was correct in C, and "tried" to compile it. This obviously doesn't work in a Pascal compiler. Since the program was so short (basically just a loop printing something on the screen), it was obvious that there was nothing wrong with the program itself.

I called the teacher over to "complain" about the problem, just to see her reaction. Just as I expected, she didn't notice I started the wrong compiler. But she did surprise me with the reaction:

"Class! Class, silence, I forgot to tell you something! Please try to avoid using variable 'i' for loops, it seems that we have a broken compiler, several people have complained about it this week!"

Guess I wasn't the first after all...
Posted by Gutza  in  Bucharest  on  Mon Oct 04, 2004  at  06:31 AM
I went to an all-girl high school where the student body was considered locally to be "on par" with the ladies of Sex and the City. A few years ago the seniors from a nearby all-boy high school stole a large sign from a shopping center that bore a strong resemblance to our school sign and put it in front of it along the main drag. The shopping center's name? Spread Eagle Village.
Posted by Cat  on  Mon Oct 04, 2004  at  10:53 AM
My high school had its room numbers marked on metal plates. One year, several seniors came in the day before the first day of school, armed with screwdrivers. They went straight to work unscrewing the number plates off of every room on the halls where the freshmen had their classes, and moving the plates to different rooms. Unfortunately they were caught before the job was finished; I can only imagine the mass confusion that would have resulted had the freshmen tried to find their classes on the first day of school only to find the numbers had been turned into pure chaos.
Posted by Matt  on  Mon Oct 04, 2004  at  11:10 AM
I honestly dont care to win a thing; however i will detailone of the most ingenious pranks i have been witness to. These kids i knew managed to steal a copy of their high schools letter head - and so they proceded to write a letter detailing that complimentary condomswould be issued at that years prom. They attached the principals signature and sent it off to the homes of each individual senior and junior. The office wasso inundated with phone calls the next day the school was closed down.

Sheer brilliance
Posted by Jared  on  Mon Oct 04, 2004  at  02:11 PM
I went to two different high schools, two pranks at each:

Seniors on the football team got on the roof of the gym with a winch and winched the coach's VW Bug onto the roof of the gym.

My group of friends got into a tradition of pranking one another's lockers on the birthday of the locker owner. It started with filling the locker with trash, then to filling it with full beer bottles, the last prank was a two-man life raft put in the locker and wired so that when the door was opened, the CO2 cartridge was triggered and the raft inflated.

Second high school:

Seniors welded a VW bug body around the base of the flagpole, painted it school colors and the year of the class.

Best prank, IMHO, involved the librarian. She was an over-the-top library Nazi, she'd divided the library into zones. If you were caught doing English homework in the Math zone, you were tossed out. During the last week the libary was open, the seniors got as many students as possible to check out the maximum number of books. On the last day to turn in books, everyone brought them back on the same day, creating a huge pile of books to reshelve. I like this prank because no rules were broken and justice was served.
Posted by Ross  in  Seattle  on  Mon Oct 04, 2004  at  03:03 PM
The old Southwest Conference college athletic league was an odd combination of huge state universities and smaller private ones. The smallest school in the league was Rice U., a private and very elite school in Houston-- it's sort of the MIT of Texas. At the other end of the cultural spectrum was the enormous Texas A&M (originally Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College, but now generally known as just A&M). The A&M "Aggies" were, and are, known for their fanatical school spirit and for having a large number of very peculiar customs (Aggies would call them "traditions").
This contrast was epitomized in the two schools' marching bands. A&M's band was huge and wore military-style uniforms and was more known for precision marching than for musicianship. Rice, which during this period gave no band scholarships, had an all-volunteer ensemble known as the Marching Owl Band, or the MOB. MOB members improvised their own costumes and sometimes their instruments as well.
These two bands used to play frequent pranks on each other, but the most memorable happened sometime back in the 1960s, I think.
Rice was playing an away game at A&M. As usual, A&M was winning. At halftime, the Aggie band marched in lockstep onto the field for its usual big production. When it was their turn, the MOB members moseyed out and formed the letters "RICE" in the center of the field. They ran through a few simple tunes without any marching around.
What the Aggies didn't know, and what only a few of the spectators could see, was that each MOB member had filled his (I think this was before these schools went coed)pockets with rock salt, which he emptied onto the stadium turf during the haltime show. Then the band marched back to the sidelines, the Aggie team racked up a few dozen more points, and the game was over.
The next time it rained, though, the grass on the field started to turn brown and die in the pattern of the letters "R-I-C-E." This message remained indelibly written near the fifty-yard line for the rest of the season and beyond.
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Mon Oct 04, 2004  at  08:24 PM
A substitute teacher in our High School geometry class arrived and, not noticing that everyone in the class had their right leg crossed over their left, began a lesson on plotting points on a graph. "Now if we plot time on the abscissa..." and everyone put their right leg down with a bang and crossed their left leg. The teacher spun around but failed to see what caused the commotion. "..and we plot crop growth on the ordinate..." Fifty plus left feet banged the floor and we crossed our right legs. But again by the time she spun around, we were all still and attentive. The poor woman became more and more agitated as she continued her lesson with our legs crossing and uncrossing in unison but seemingly at random intervals. But I'm afraid the joke was on us when she finally decoded our prank and began to use "ordinate" and "abscissa" with abandon. What a workout!
Posted by Bunthorne  on  Mon Oct 04, 2004  at  10:59 PM
When you attend a small, private, liberal-arts college in the middle of nowhere, you quickly learn that there isn't much of a difference between a prank and a political statement.
Towards the end of my senior year, a significant piece of campus architecture (a controversial "memorial arch" dedicated to Christian missionaries killed in the Boxer rebellion) was defaced by horrible anti-Asian graffiti (including the "g-word.") The day after this happened, the student body convened an emergency congress to pressure the administration to apprehend the perpetrators and severely punish them. When (by the following day) the perpetrators were not immediately apprehended and duly punished, the students decided to follow the time-honored tradition of campus protests and take over the main administrative building. I was there (along with some 400 other students), although I was more interested in seeing the outcome of the protest than any sort of resolution to the inciting event.
Within an hour, the dean of students (among many other senior members of the administration) had fled the premises, and news media from outside the school (including TV crews from the local stations) had arrived to cover the event. To their dismay, the protesters had by then decided that the best way to respond to the media coverage would be to say nothing and give no explanation as to why they had taken over the building. (The rational was that by saying nothing, they would better convey the gravity of their cause.) Within 10 minutes, the news crews (sensing a non-story-in-the-making) had all left. Several hours later, after intense negotiations, the students relinquished control over the facility (in exchange for the administration promising to develop an anti-Racist task force to bring to justice the individuals responsible for the desecration.)
Two days later, at a campus rally-to-end-Racism, the administration announced that they had apprehended the perpetrator. Actually, the perpetrator had turned herself in: she was a senior (Asian-american) who was working on her senior thesis in art studies. Her topic: "mass spectacle as performance art." As far as I know, she received no further condemnation from her peers, and graduated with honors.
In the 50's, you had goldfish swallowing. In the early 90's, political correctness. In hindsight, I'm not sure which one was stupider.
Posted by Andy  on  Tue Oct 05, 2004  at  03:39 AM
I only really ever pulled one prank in school, but I remember it being very funny at the time. I was in a Broadcast Journalism class in High School with a friend of mine; as there was usually very little to do after the morning news show was done, and we were both too smart for our own good, we were often bored. This was in Texas in the mid-nineties, so there was always lots of talk about crime and youth violence and whatnot. The BC class was four different rooms in their own hallway, and the outside door opened up on a large sidewalk that every student going to or coming from the gym had to walk past.

So one day near the end of the school year, about five minutes before the end of class, my friend borrowed a piece of chalk from the blackboard. We ran outside, I laid down on the sidewalk, and my friend drew a chalk outline around my body. We even threw in three or four little circles near the 'body', the kind investigators would draw around spent shell casings at the scene of a shooting. Then we ran back inside like nothing happened.

When the bell rang, we stood on the stairs ten yards away from the 'scene' and watched about a hundred students notice the chalk outline and get the strangest expressions on their faces. The best part was that no one stopped; they all kept walking, like they didn't want to get involved. We left before any faculty showed up.

I walked back to check on it after the next period, and it was already washed away like nothing had ever happened. (Which means the staff got the janitors on the job very quickly.)

There were some grumblings about smart-assery and chalk-drawings heard throughout the rest of the day, but no trouble came of it.....
Posted by Barghest  on  Tue Oct 05, 2004  at  05:37 AM
One of our favorite pranks was a "revenge type prank". Upon collecting a bottle of
methylene blue (used to color plant slices to see cell division) ... we added it to a batch of brownies. Letting our "friends" have homemade brownies the next day...only to find that the added ingredient goes through the body undigested making the unsuspecting person urinate a wonderful blue color.

Then there are all sorts of conversations that can be made up to atttribute to blue urine, that when discussed within earshot of a brownie eater can make even the "toughest" person a bit paranoid.

Eventually, all of the blue is peed out and the body system returns to normal.
Posted by Redmond  in  Charleston, SC  on  Tue Oct 05, 2004  at  11:01 AM
My brother and I attended the same boarding school at different times, and the prank pulled by the senior class the night before graduation was a legendary tradition, including things like taking all the chairs out of the dining hall and forming the graduation year with them on the quad.

In my year we couldn't do much, due to a heavy thunderstorm. But my brother's class put the entire school up for sale. They got a number of For Sale signs and put them up, with the switchboard phone number in front of every school building and on every school vehicle - apparently the school got a tremendous number of phone calls!
Posted by Jennifer  on  Tue Oct 05, 2004  at  12:40 PM
I can't take credit for this one. Clemson and and (South) Carolina are big rivals in football in South Carolina. Apparently back in 1961, the Sigma Nu's at USC got some football uniforms from a local high school that shared its colors with Clemson. After half-time, the Sigma Nus ran out onto the field and started "warming up." Not realizing that it was not the real team, the crowd started cheering and the band started playing. At that point, the SN's started fumbling around, and the crowd realized what was up (and a small riot broke out.)
The prank has been chronicled at http://southcarolina.theinsiders.com/2/76514.html
Posted by DrFunk  in  South Carolina  on  Tue Oct 05, 2004  at  12:58 PM
At my middle school, the drinking fountain spouts bore s strong resemblance to the head of a penis. So a small gang of students went around school and covered all of them with condoms.

In high school, a bunch of sophomores filled a trash can with water and poured it down the stairs. It smelled bad.

Do I win a book now!
Posted by john  in  NH  on  Tue Oct 05, 2004  at  06:38 PM
Oh, certainly my impatient friend,
And given the trust that I lend
I'm certain that I shall win a book too
For being a great supporter of you!

However, the fact that your stories are lame
Is the main reason why I need you tame
For else, no matter what you should cook
My little self will not win a book!
Posted by Gutza  in  Bucharest  on  Tue Oct 05, 2004  at  09:08 PM
One of my favorite all time pranks was actually a series of pranks played on a favorite high school teacher.

It all started when my Criminal Law teacher told the class a story about a field trip to a prison farm. It was the typical
Posted by Kaitain  in  Florida  on  Wed Oct 06, 2004  at  10:35 AM
One of the science teachers at the middle school I attended had a "suggestion" box outside of her class room. (All of the classes had an indoor hallway that connected about 30 classrooms together, all of the lockers were inside these hallways.) We could leave assignments in it, questions about homework, etc. The opening was just big enough to stick a few pages in, but a friend and I went to a bait shop & got some chicken gizards, bugs, & some weird mixture of fish parts for traps. We pushed as much of this as we could thru the opening of her suggestion box, cleaned off the outside of the box & left. After a very hot August weekend (Florida public schools start at the beginning of August) the hallway smelled pretty ripe. All of the school staff was going around trying to open windows & find out what had died. They checked the air ducts & janitors closets, made students open lockers...Some kids even got sick from the smell. This building was built in the early 1900s, so there are lots of sealed-off places & crawl spaces where the staff had a hard time getting into. There's a putrid smell in the air, along with kids randomly throwing up in the hallway, and it took until the end of the day for people to figure out where the smell came from. A lot of kids reported later that their clothes and hair smelled bad after they got home. Everyone was really ticked off and the next day we had an assembly where the Principal gave a lecture about respect & humanity. The teacher was asked to take down the box, or to place it inside her classroom or office, b/c they could be locked when she left. The Principal would not allow the yearbook staff to make any comments about it in the yearbook.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL, USA  on  Wed Oct 06, 2004  at  01:41 PM
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