Growing up in McComb, we got used to newspaper editor Oliver Emmerich’s trickery on April 1.
Every day, Mr. Emmerich wrote a Page 1 column and chatted about folks’ comings and goings, his travels, etc.
But on April 1, his column always took on the fantastical. It usually was so ridiculous that lots of people truly believed it.
Then, we’d spend days answering the phone, telling people it was all a joke.
Nowadays, we don’t play games in the newspaper anymore.
A textbook case, from which I will delete the expletives, came from Natchez where a linotype operator and a proofreader played a high-stakes game.
The linotype operator would type in an lurid sentence in the middle of an otherwise innocuous article, with the expectation of horrifying the proofreader, who then would mark through the offending line of type for deletion.
This was the old days for sure.
Of course, as you think about this scenario, you know at some point the joke is going to turn bad.
A grossly offending statement got past the proofreader or didn’t get deleted by the folks in the back shop.
And, of course, the horrendous verbage went to press and out for all the day’s readers to behold.
Needless to say, the fellow who was deeply disparaged came into a handsome settlement from the newspaper. And the idiots whose little game went awry found themselves in the unemployment line without a recommendation.
Another time, at the newspaper in McComb, my editor discovered two silly back-shop guys who had mocked up their own version of the day’s news. They were laughing hysterically at how funny their front page was. It looked real.
They, too, were famously brought back to earth with the fierce admonition of what could have happened if their page somehow had wound up on the press and in our readers’ homes by mid-afternoon.
“We don’t play games in the newspaper” is deeply emblazoned upon my brain, even after all these years.
I’m sure some of you folks may see something ridiculous in print and think it’s a joke, but friends, it’s just truly ridiculous. That’s all, no joke.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at email@example.com or (662) 678-1597.
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