I heartily dislike most practical jokes--they generally are nothing more than dressed-up sadism--so April Fool’s Day generally ranks with me somewhere between root canals and dropping an anvil on my foot. This little sermon from the March 31, 1901 “Chicago Tribune” is equally sympathetic to this most perverse of holidays:
Because some time before the beginning of the Christian era there was a Celtic festival--the nature or scope of which is not clear to historians--humankind has set aside one day in the year for Idle Jesting. When the clock strikes 12 tonight, beware. You may not only be an April fool, but a dead or dying fool as well. Of all the days when men celebrate, patriotic holidays alone excepted, All Fools' day is the day of danger.I will say this for April 1. It provides me with plenty of blog material.
The other man may fail to see the joke. Should he resent your jesting his anger may take on no more serious form than a display of fists. That would be your good fortune, for the records of crime show many cases where the April fool has risen in his wrath and dealt death to the Jester.
Walter Johnson was one of these. There was a revival service in a country church just outside of Lima. O. Among the devout were Johnson, his brother, and John Williams. It was the evening of April 1, but Johnson, in his religious fervor, had forgotten the day.
As the meeting was dismissed Johnson and some friends gathered in the middle of the church to discuss the conversion of the neighborhood sinner who had a few moments before proclaimed his repentance. Johnson's brother slipped up behind him and pinned a scrap of paper on his back. Unmindful of the placard he was bearing, Johnson turned to go. Half a dozen girls tittered. The man tore the paper from his coat and turned to Williams.
“You did this," he cried, his face flushing, and his hand reaching for his pocket. “You have tried to make me ridiculous."
" You are wrong." retorted Williams. "I did not do it." The brother who had pinned the paper on Johnson's back was hugely enjoying the joke that was about to become a tragedy.
As he was trying to smother his laughter Johnson drew his hand from his pocket. It held an open knife. Before anyone could interfere the frenzied man had plunged the blade into Williams' body and he fell to the floor, mortally wounded. While the church was In an uproar Johnson stalked out the door. An hour later an April fool gave himself up to the Sheriff and was locked in jail.
Frank Kyler was another man who failed to see the joke. Just outside of Holidaysburg, Pa. lived Adam Acker, a prosperous farmer, whose daughter was the belle of the neighborhood. Kyler had long since been devoted to the girl and called on the evening of April 1 to ask her to become his wife. The two were sitting in front of the old-fashioned fireplace, trading in small talk, when the girl turned and stared at the window. Kyler's gaze followed. Against the window pane was pressed the face of a man.
Kyler sprang to his feet. In the dim light the features of the man at the window were not discernible. Kyler drew a revolver and fired just as William Butler opened his lips to shout "April fool."
Two bodies fell. Butler was dead. Miss Acker only fainting.
“You have killed Will Butler," screamed the girl, and then she lapsed into unconsciousness. Butler was an old friend of the Acker family. His April fool joke had cost him his life." Kyler, weighed down with grief for his rash act. walked to Holidaysburg and gave himself up.
The grim humor of a Chicago man prompted him to invite his friends to visit him for April 1. They found him dead, a suicide. The man was Herman Heneman, a tailor, who lived at 479 North Hermitage avenue. Heneman often told his wife that life was not worth the living and that he intended to shuffle off by the agency of his own hand.
As the days went by the woman began to think the threat was idly made. It so happened that April 1 was Heneman's birthday. Going to his wife he said: "Invite all our relatives to visit us tomorrow. Tell them to come an see an April fool." She invited them, thinking it was a joke. They came, and found him dead.
Joseph Dial of Birmingham, Ala., was at an All Fools' day picnic. He had bought a new revolver that morning and chuckled as he thought of the consternation he could cause by pretending he was about to kill himself. "See," he remarked, as he approached a crowd of girls. " I am going to take my life. Good-by, all of you, good-by."
Then, as the girls screamed, Dial placed the weapon in his mouth and pulled the trigger. The hammer fell on an empty chamber of the cylinder and there was no explosion. Dial removed the barrel of the revolver from between his teeth and exclaimed:
Three times did Dial repeat the experiment without harm to himself. On one of these times a girl fainted and it seemed immensely funny to the youth.
The fifth time Dial tried the trick the hammer fell on a cartridge. The bullet bored its way to Dial's brain and he fell dead. The April fool did not know it was loaded.
Five years ago a woman who mistook a reality for an April fool joke was in consultation with an insurance adjuster next day. She was Mrs. Thomas Eldredge. 21 Ellery street, Cambridge, Mass.
"Fire!" shouted a small boy who stood on the pavement in front of the fine Eldredge house. The woman heard the cry, but she had resolved to pass the day without being fooled.
"Fire!" again shouted the boy. Mrs. Eldredge only smiled.
“Your house is burning!" fairly screamed the boy as he ran up the steps and pounded on the front door. Mrs. Eldredge paid no heed to the warning, but went to the telephone to ask her husband In Boston when he would be home to dinner. While she was standing at the instrument a cloud of smoke pervaded the room. An instant later an April fool was rushing from the house to keep from being burned to death.
The loss to the Eldredge house was $7,000. Neighbors were sympathetic, but the small boy who had sounded the alarm only said, “I told you so.”
Today, do not be the sort of person who provides me with blog material.