Pulling your leg for last 50 years
Our astute and rather clever readers (that would be you) probably spotted this year’s April Fools Day story rather quickly.
And you probably thought to yourself that it was a rather lame effort at the annual Faribault County Register’s attempt to put one over on our readers.
I can’t say as I can argue much against that observation. It was pretty lame.
But, wait, there are some extenuating reasons why this particular story was chosen.
You see, a few months ago I learned that the very first April Fools Day story appeared in a Blue Earth newspaper exactly 50 years ago. And I learned it because the author told me all about it.
It seems that back in 1968 a much younger Larry Anderson, of Frost, (yes, that Larry Anderson) worked at the Blue Earth Post. He was listed as “Newsman” on the masthead not writer, not reporter, but newsman.
Larry Anderson, the newsman, and Stan Brotherton, the editor, concocted the idea of doing an April Fools Day story.
Larry Anderson wrote a story about a new crop coming to Faribault County. Farmers were to plant pretzel sticks and they would grow into full-size pretzels.
I decided to pay homage to the originator of the April Fools Day story and base mine this year on the same idea, a new crop coming to Faribault County.
In fact, I quote from Elias Grayne, the president of the North American Frozen Pea Growers Association. In Larry Anderson’s pretzel story, he quotes from Elias Grayne, president of the North American Pretzel Growers Association.
Boy, that old Elias Grayne has been around a lot of years.
Anderson’s story also reported that the association had plans to build a new pretzel processing plant that would employ about 320 people in the county.
Workers would be involved in both the “salting” process, as well as the “twisting” process. You see, the freshly harvested pretzel sticks would be twisted at the processing plant into the familiar curly-Q shape we all know.
Newsman Anderson’s story was accompanied by several large black and white photos and took up nearly half the front page of the Friday, March 29, 1968 edition of the Blue Earth Post.
There were photos of pretzels growing in a farm field by Irving, Texas, pretzels being twisted and salted at a pretzel factory and one photo of pretzels being baked to perfection in an oven.
Editor Stan Brotherton related in his weekly column how he and Anderson went to Gartzke’s Greenhouse and stuck pretzels into a bedding soil box and used potted plants in the background to look like trees and took the photo.
He says the entire Gartzke’s staff came out to see what these two crazy guys were doing. And shook their heads.
Next they went to the Green Giant plant with two boxes of pretzels, both straight and twisted, and convinced two ladies there to pretend to be twisting the pretzels on a conveyer belt.
They are named in the column as Mrs. Melvin Earl and Mrs. Howard Gartzke, even though the editor says the two threatened to sue the newspaper if anything more than just their hands appeared in any photo or they were named.
Their next stop was at the Vienna Bakery where they asked Mrs. Al Wentz (didn’t any of these women use their first names?) if they could use the oven.
They asked her to pretend to be baking the pretzels in the oven and she agreed.
“She did all this, never once asking us what we were doing or why,” Brotherton wrote in his column. “However, she, like the others, insisted on only her hands showing in the picture. While she was not overly curious, she was somewhat skeptical. ‘Aren’t you going to ask us what we’re doing?’ I queried. She looked quickly over at Larry Anderson and said, ‘I have heard all about him before. So why ask a silly question.'”
Brotherton’s column ends by saying he and Anderson took all their leftover pretzels from the photo shoot and took them to a place where “the natives, we knew, would be celebrating the pretzel festival and we passed them all around, amid cheering and songs, and eventually slipped quietly out into the moonlight.”
I wonder what 1968 Blue Earth bar that was…
So, this is the story of how the April Fools Day story began, 50 years ago. Eventually it transferred over to the Register from the Post, and no one is sure if it was done every year or one or two or more were skipped, when more serious editors were in charge.
And, I am sure all of us involved in these rather goofy stories, from Larry and Stan down to me, hope we have all given you some entertainment over the past half century.
Thanks for reading us.