As long as I’ve been hanging around here, I’ve never once heard of the April Fools’ joke played on April 1, 1955, when a parody of The News and Courier titled “The Noise and Carrier” found its way to some residents’ doorsteps. Creighton Walters found a copy of it inside a proverbial box in the attic, passed it along to John Barnwell, who then forwarded it to me. I can’t say for certain, but I think it was done after hours, in fun by newsroom insiders and I’m seeing at least some of Frank B. Gilbreth’s telltale sense of humor, which showed up all the time in a near daily column he wrote for 40 years. Here are some of the featured items (edited).
The Noise and Carrier, the banner reads, “The South’s Moldiest Newspaper,” “A Newspaper for Soused Carolinians,” with the following weather report at the upper right corner of the front page: “Mostly weather: yesterday and today. Scattered snow flurries tomorrow followed by clearing thundershowers. Expected temperatures: Charliestown high 105, low—34; suburban low—30. Charliestown tides, high and low expected. For details see Page 5.”
Small detail: There were only four pages. Inside, according to an index at the bottom of page 1, one could further expect to find Good News on page 5, Bad News on pages 1-5, but also No News on pages 1-4.
At the bottom right on page 1 there are some thought-provoking Worry Clinic Questions of the Day:
Please help me. I am a Charlestonian in love with a mounted policeman.
I am interested in being a nice girl and well thought of, but is it interfering with my popularity? Can you help me?
Just what is the duty of the bridegroom after the ceremony has been performed?
After the war, I had a hard time getting felt because of its use in the war effort. Now that the war is over, can I get felt?
Want a good fulltime job? Leave South Carolina. Local leadership has made this state great.
One of the featured pictures is that of a pathetic azalea that looks like it’s been stampeded. “City officials are preparing for what looks to be the biggest Azalea Festival ever. According to Mr. Dan D. Lyon, chairman for the preservation of the azaleas that have been dead for one week or less, full-seed-ahead efforts are well underway. In a recent chat with the head groundskeeper of Colonial Lake, Mr. Lyon was told that several sacks of mail have been received from all over the U.S. asking if the blossoms will actually coincide with the festivities this year.
“My. Lyon, in an interview with the Noise and Carrier, said that every effort is being…(Continued on Page 5).
A headline screams: Local Foundation Purchases Historic Bullfinch House. “The historic Bullfinch House at 51 West Battery, for which the Historic Charleston Foundation Foundation conducted a successful campaign to raise $32,500 Confederate money, is now the property of historic Charleston. Final transfer of the deed to the city of this historic mansion, built for a wealthy merchant, will be completed by next Tuesday.
“The Foundation has decided to open the house for fumigation this week, despite the fact that the ‘free falling spiral staircase,’ which connects the first floor and the attic, has no support and is in eminent danger of collapsing any minute. Because of a visible listing and perceptible vibration of the floor, the main stairway will not be opened in the interest of public safety. Access to the attic will be by a rope ladder generously donated by Troop 78 of the Boy Scouts, Scoutmaster Mixon, Commanding.
“Though part of the house must be closed off now, Samuel G. Rocky, President of the Historic Charleston Foundation Foundation (ed. note—poking fun at the great Sam Stoney, author, historian and raconteur), says the ground floor is ‘in many ways the most elegant room in Charleston.’ Of the entire house he says that it is ‘vibrant with charming contrasts, colors and smells ...’ ”
There’s all that and a good deal more in 1955’s April Fools’ Noise and Carrier, proving once again that everyone’s attic is bound to contain some surprises (if not their closets.)
Edward M. Gilbreth is a Charleston physician. Reach him at edwardgilbreth@ comcast.net.