No need to check the calendar and this isn’t an April Fool’s Day joke – I am just trying to get my column schedule back ‘on track’ after having been haphazard about it the last couple of months. I know one ran just last week, so forgive me for the back-to-backs.
Traditionally, my column has run the first Wednesday of the month so we will try to make that happen again, just in case you keep up with that sort of scheduling thing. After also having a sort of ‘hit or miss’ approach to reporter columns, we are going to start having them again on a regular basis, with one published each third Wednesday of the month. In those rare months with five Wednesdays, sports reporter Ike Dodson will take a turn. News reporters for our Oakdale-Riverbank-Escalon papers, Rich Paloma, Virginia Still and Dawn Henley will make their way back in to the rotation, with Rich the first one up on April 17.
Monday was April Fool’s Day but I didn’t pull any punches. Mondays are just not a day that are conducive to that sort of frivolity around the newsroom; it is one of our ‘crunch’ days when everyone is very busy writing and, at least according to my daughter, I am stressed out and mean. So even if I am stressed, I am going to try and smile a little more on Mondays.
April Fool’s Day has its own set of memories from my childhood that bring back a smile; my brother was the big joker in the family and did all sorts of things to keep us off balance that day. My older sister and I suffered through our fair share of lights that wouldn’t turn on (bulbs unscrewed), plastic worms stuffed into the toothpaste tube and rolled up socks (clean, at least) that came tumbling out at the breakfast table instead of the cereal that was supposed to be poured from the box.
When I worked for the newspaper in upstate New York, the editor enjoyed putting together some sort of unusual photo in honor of the day. This was back in the dark ages before we utilized photo shop and we both spent several hours a week developing film and printing our own photos for use in the paper. One April Fool’s Day issue photo I remember vividly was the overly large snow goose he had soaring down the main street, taking the time to superimpose an enlarged picture of the bird in flight, making it appear to ‘buzz’ the Main Street businesses like some prehistoric pterodactyl swooping in to attack. It looked realistic enough that some people commented they wish they had seen it as it flew over the community. We were also a weekly paper there, and he always put a disclaimer in the paper the following week, explaining how he set up the fake shot and letting people know it was just a fun exercise for April Fool’s Day.
Reports indicate that Swedish newspapers print one fake story in their issues of April 1 – I guess just about anything goes, as long as they confess to it later.
Before working at the paper, my media experience was in radio and you can fool a lot of people that way. One particular April Fool’s Day, the morning DJ and I were doing our traditional ‘banter’ following the 8 a.m. newscast. We were both sports fanatics so our discussions often centered around our favorite teams, local school sports events and the like. Our studios were set up with large picture windows and, setting up the sound effects beforehand, we were talking baseball that day in honor of the new major league season beginning. As we talked live on the air, we ‘tossed’ around a baseball, listeners thinking we were actually throwing the ball around the studio. At one point, I signaled for the curve and the DJ ‘threw’ a fast ball – right through the plate glass window, which came crashing down amidst a sound effect of tumbling, crunching, tinkling glass.
After allowing an appropriate amount of ‘dead air’ time to indicate our shock and horror, I quietly asked him how much he thought that window might cost … and he worried aloud about what the station manager would think when he got in.
We had so many people in the community buy in to that, calling the station to ask us how it was, how much trouble we got in, did the general manager outlaw the throwing of baseballs inside after that? It was a fun way to fool the audience, and we had them going.
We confessed the next day that it was a prank, especially since neither one of us could afford to pay for a broken plate glass window on radio station pay…
Hopefully you navigated April Fool’s Day successfully and now we can turn our attention to the busy months ahead for our communities, as spring arrives and summer looms in the not-too-distant future.
And I mean that.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.