Remembering pranks from the past


“Hello, is your refrigerator running? Well, you better catch it before it gets out the door!”
“Hello, do you have Prince William in a can? Well, you better let him out before he suffocates!”
“Do you have your TV on? Well, how does it fit?”
Ah, the good old prankster kid calls – this is a game from a fading era. I was talking to a friend yesterday who raised two children, now adults, and is busy raising her bonus baby, who is now 11 years old. While at a birthday party with friends, they began acting like typical 11-year-old boys, dialing random phone numbers to ask funny questions.
Busted. The fun came to a grinding halt when someone called back and said, “Listen, you little comedians, we have caller ID and we strongly suggest you find something else to do with your time!”
A friend of mine – a man who somehow managed to survive an incredibly ornery childhood to become a professional in our small town – loves to tell stories of great fun he and his buddies used to have, armed only with ornery imaginations and a telephone.
“Good morning, this is WNCO calling. Your name has been drawn to win a brand new Chevrolet if only you can name this tune!” The boys would then play the tiniest snippet of a song. Some days, there would be no “winners” and other days, no matter what this randomly chosen person said, they would begin screaming, “YOU WON! YOU WON!”
I can picture this group of very ornery boys, every single one of them now successful businessmen, chuckling as they dialed numbers on an old black, sturdy telephone.
The challenge. Every house had one, and usually just one, in a central part of the house, perched upon a telephone table. So, part of the challenge of accomplishing this prank was to find the time to get to the phone out of mother’s earshot. When his mother was home, Bill and the boys would find other ways to have their fun.
Knocking on doors and then jumping on bikes and tearing off as quick as they could was second only to the telephone capers. Newer homes with doorbells made this trick even more deliciously fun, he tells me.
The all-time greatest summer prank story of them all, though, was the night this group of neighborhood boys climbed a big tree on their shady street and dropped tiny water balloons on top of people passing by.
Timing was everything. The boys would listen for an oncoming bicycle or vehicle and force themselves to be patient in their glee. “Three, two, one – NOW!” the boys would whisper.
Oops! Just seconds after one particular drop, they realized the car had come to a screeching halt. They held their breath. They looked down from their leafy perch and suddenly realized the car they had just water bombed was a police car, of all things.
The policeman searched the area. He peered behind bushes and on porches. He shined his light in every direction. Every direction, that is, except up.
The tree above him certainly had to have been shaking, but he never once thought to look up in that tree. He drove away, in search of other bad guys out on the prowl.
I don’t remember ever pulling pranks. Living on a farm, the only pranks we could have pulled would have been on each other and we, frankly, were too tired after a long day of work to have found the energy to have accomplished any of this stuff.
I can’t help but chuckle when I hear these stories, told and re-told by these men who still carry those ornery little boys in their hearts.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.