Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Harmless and unforgettable pranks...

Posted 11/20/19 (Wed)

Have you ever pulled a harmless prank on someone? You know, the kind of gag that doesn’t get anybody hurt, or get any property damaged.

Some people don’t have a sense of humor, but I would think that most of us have pulled a caper like this at some time in our lifetime.

Back in the 1940s in rural North Dakota, they used to tip over outhouses in the darkness of night. Apparently, that was a lot of fun because my dad, his friends and my dad’s brothers all talked optimistically of doing this, at least once a year on Halloween.

But pranks are done at other times as well. April Fool’s Day is a good example of how people get completely fooled by a loved one. Sometimes they bring in outside help to make it happen.

There are two pranks that I would like to tell you about that I was involved in; one in high school and one less than a year out of high school.

When I was a senior in high school, some friends and I were talking in class when we weren’t supposed to be. And because the teacher assumed I was the instigator, he told me to write a 5,000 word report on the French Revolution and turn it in the following Monday since we were caught on a Friday.

The light bulb on top my head was instantly turned on. None of us liked this teacher so I concocted the idea of playing a prank on him.

I asked those same two friends who were with me when we got caught talking to come over to my house because I had an idea that was going to take some time, but it would be an unforgettable spoof on this teacher.

So, they came over with pens, notebooks, reference books and other items.

We basically spent that entire Saturday putting together a manuscript of that 5,000 word report. The following Monday I turned it in and he was so shocked he didn’t know what to say and the class roared in laughter because by now, they all knew what was going on.

He told me to write a report. He didn’t say what language it had to be in so I wrote the entire report in French, since it was about the French Revolution and all!

For those French words I didn’t know, my friends helped me translate English words into French so that it would be proper and correct.

Indeed it was and the principal was so dumbfounded he didn’t say anything other than “very clever.”

The second trick was on me, at least initially.

A group of us were working in Kulm and every day after work, we would stop at the local cafe for a hot meal before retiring for the night.

So one of my high school friends and I were sitting there eating dinner when all of a sudden he said, “There’s something on your shirt, let me take a look.”

Without even thinking about it or having time to react, he took a ketchup dispenser and filled my pocket with ketchup and then slapped me on the chest. There was ketchup all over and it looked like I’d been shot or something.

We got our laughs out of it and while we were finishing our meal, we decided to pull an antic on the local cop.

We both left the cafe and drove away in my friend’s car. While he was driving down the street (barely moving), he opened up the passenger side door and pushed me out of the moving vehicle with his leg and into the street. Don’t try this at home folks!

The local cop was right there and upon seeing me lying in the street, he too assumed I had been shot. He helped me to my feet and I said, “Follow that car.”

He took off after my high school friend and stopped him at the edge of town. The cop wasn’t angry and didn’t cite either of us, but he made it clear that if we ever did anything like that again, we would be in big trouble.

There’s no way we would get away with that in this day and age, but back then it was just us, a couple of 18-year-old pranksters having some fun.

Today, the world is different and what we did, even in a town like Kulm, North Dakota would have a much different ending.

There were a lot of other little, harmless pranks like filling my boss’s boots with wheat or after I found out my girlfriend was seeing someone else without breaking up, a couple of friends and I jacked up her car at a party and took all four tires off, put them in the back seat and left it on blocks.

Then, suddenly it was off to college and the pranks stopped dead in their tracks because I became quite serious about getting through college, earning a degree and playing on the college baseball team.

That was a lot of fun too, but in a much different way.