Think April Fool’s Day is a recent holiday? Well, think again. The origins of April Fool’s can be traced back to medieval Europe and the institution of the Gregorian calendar. The new calendar moved the celebration of the new year from the last week of March to January first, and those who were slow on getting word of the date changed were subsequently called “April Fools.”
The tradition of pranking on April Fool’s Day is nothing new either, and eventually found its way to the new world and Old Paducah where in 1903 J.B. Allen, manager of the Paducah Postal Telegraph Company, decided to throw of doozy of an April Fool’s prank.
On April 1, he sent a large number of telegrams to friends and family each dated from Louisville with fake initials for a signature, and each bearing the following message: Arthur Price Reached Indianapolis Last Friday Over Our Lines.
You get the joke, don’t you?
Well, don’t feel bad if you didn’t because apparently none of J.B. Allen’s friends understood the joke either. In fact, almost all of them called J.B. to explain that they’d been delivered some faulty telegram, and after goading and cajoling them for a bit, J.B. ultimately had to reveal the joke…that the first letter of each word of the telegram spelled out ‘April Fool.’
Ha!! Good one, J.B!
For more information about lackluster April Fool’s pranks, come visit us in the Local and Family History Department at the McCracken County Public Library.