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Fooling around with a few real-life pranks

It has been several years since I’ve last pennned a column for April Fools’ Day.

My last April Fools’ article was a tongue-in-cheek tale about the antics of an avid group of local flyfishermen who had simply refused to wait around for Adirondack “ice-out” to occur.

Up north, as most folks know, ice-out is usually expected to occur somewhere between April 2 and July 4 on a good year. April 1 also happens to be the opening day of trout season, which is appropriate as only a fool would expect to find any waters in the region that were free of ice on that day.

As the story goes, the founding fathers of this elite Adirondack angling fraternity consisted of a couple of local dentists, a retired plastic surgeon and an old watchmaker. Together, the group managed to manufacture an impressive collection of miniature fly rods, the longest of which measured just shy of 18 inches in length.

With a shared passion for taking fish on a fly rod, their quest was soon taken to daring new heights as they scouted and scoured the region to discover the finest of aquariums in which to pursue their angling adventures. The group eventually came to be known as the Adirondack Chapter of the Aquarium Anglers of America.

These formidable fly fishing fellows were not the least bit interested in simply casting their tiny flies to goldfish or guppies that were safely secured in a glass bowl.

No. They sought more exotic species such as a Man O’War, Puffers and Clown Fish, and they spent their days perusing aquariums at local shopping centers and hospitals. They even dared to dream of breaking into The Wild Center where fish tanks fill the walls.

“It’s a great way to vent the built-up energy and tension that anglers often suffer through the long winter’s wait,” explained Tiny Rotterfeller, one of the group’s founders. “We try to give the fish a fighting chance by scaling down the size of our gear. I only wish there was an aquarium large enough to let us wade.

“As a group, we decided to pursue our sport strictly in aquariums after having attempted to bring our zest for fly fishing to the ice.

“That really didn’t work out so well,” Rotterfeller continued. “After we’d drill a lot of holes in the ice, we were too tired to cast. And even when we managed a few casts, it was pretty damned hard to land a fly in that tiny hole in the ice!

“We also discovered it’s also a helluva lot warmer to do our fishing indoors.”

After publishing this April Fools’ Day tale, I received more than a dozen letters, emails and phone calls from readers who were outraged that I would promote such behavior.

“You have slumped to a new low,” one lady wrote. “How can you possibly promote such unsportsmanlike behavior from what is obviously a group of guppy haters?”

So rather than risk such scorn again, I’ve decided to offer up a few tales of true pranks to help lessen the seriousness of the day. Although the pranks didn’t occur on April Fools’, they should have.

In my hometown of Elizabethtown, two of the town fathers were engaged in a running battle of pranks to see who could best the other, and their war was waged year round.

A winner was finally declared after he took out a full page advertisement in the local weekly newpaper. The paper was published the day after Christmas. The advertisement read: “Wanted: Used Christmas Trees. Please drop your trees off at 13 Parkside Drive. The Mayor.”

The day after Christmas, trees began to show up on his lawn. And despite his best efforts to chase folks away, the trees continued to be dropped off for the remainder of the week. In all, he claimed more than 75 trees had been deposited, and the long-running prank battle was finally over.

On the outskirts of the little village, there lived a particularly difficult lady who seemingly took great pleasure in pestering local kids who dared walk on “her” sidewalk. She would actually chase them away by spraying a hose.

Finally, there was a payback when a local boy who lived up the road beyond her place was walking home from basketball practice. As usual, he crossed to the opposite side of the road to avoid her place, and stumbled upon a dead skunk.

It was dark out, and the old lady’s car was not in the drive. He picked up the skunk with a stick, brought it to her house and deposited it inside the outside cellar doors.

The following day, the old lady approached him as he was walking home. Fearing a confrontation, he crossed the road as usual, until he heard her ask, “Oh Bobby, would you be willing to help me? A skunk has become trapped inside my cellar hatchway and it is dead. I’ll pay you to remove it.”

Ever the dutiful lad, he hustled across the street, and with a long stick in hand; he safely removed the skunk and tossed it across the road. For his efforts, she rewarded him with a crisp $10 bill.

Two days later, on the way back from school, Bobby got the bright idea of retrieving the skunk. He again used the stick, and again deposited it down the cellar stairs.

The following day, sure enough, there she was on the sidewalk waiting for him.

“Oh Bobby,” she pleaded. “There’s another skunk in my basement stairway. Can you help me again? For some reason, the skunks really seem to like that entrance.”

With a stick in hand, the skunk was again removed and Bobby was $10 richer.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t leave well enough alone. A week passed before he carried the now half-rotten skunk back to the cellar doors.

Unfortunately, he found the doors secured with a padlock. Disgruntled, he tossed the skunk over the bank one last time, and realized his days of easy money were over.