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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

April Fools’ Day pranks abounded in 1914.

Spokane’s city quarantine inspector received a breathless call reporting that smallpox had been found in the public library.

“Where?” asked the inspector.

“In the dictionary,” replied the caller.

A man named A. Marcus was the recipient of an elaborate hoax. Someone had called numerous firewood delivery men and ordered them to dump their loads at his door. Then came a series of grocery delivery men. One of them dumped a big order on his step and handed Marcus a bill for $12.50.

And that wasn’t the end for poor Marcus. An ambulance driver rushed into the man’s house with a stretcher, “looking for a dead man.”

Many people found the following notes on their desks: “Call Maxwell 2470 and ask for Mr. Kerr.” When they called, they were mystified to discover it was the number for the Humane Society barn. Then the pun became clear: Kerr, as in, cur.

Smaller pranks abounded: peppered chocolates, soap caramels and loaded (exploding) cigars.

Spokane police scrambled all day to check out suspicious reports. Officers combed Havermale Island, seeking an “Austrian named Loof Lirpa,” who had committed suicide. They finally stopped searching after they realized that the name Loof Lirpa had a significant meaning, spelled backward.


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