Catholic school may not be the best place for April Fool’s pranks, but it certainly gives you plenty of reason and plenty of fodder for jokes. It did when I went to Catholic school anyway, back in the 1970s. If you didn’t have a sense of humor before you entered Kindergarten, you sure as hell (gasp!) had one when you graduated. Here is my April Fool’s Day memory as I seem to remember it. I didn’t change the names to protect the innocent, no one I graduated with could be pegged as innocent anyway…
When I was in sixth grade, we had one of the most colorful teachers at St. Catharine’s School in Spring Lake, NJ. Her name was Mrs. Veron and she had the brightest, orange-reddish color hair I had ever seen. Being that I came from a big Irish family and had two red-headed sisters of my own, you wouldn’t think I’d find orange-reddish hair that shocking. But Mrs. Veron had big hair, 80s big hair, even before the 80s thing happened. She kept the aqua net on her desk too, for the humid days.
At the first day of school when we waited on the black top, everyone wanted Mrs. Veron. She would make an otherwise mundane religious education experience…well…fun. She was loud, she didn’t take any crap (gasp!) and she remembered your sister or your brother or your aunt and your mother even if she only met them once. I heard Mrs. Veron say my name shrill and loud over the carport and I was thrilled. This year is going to be good! My sisters had Mrs. Veron in years prior and now I had my chance!
We heard all the stories too. We heard about the boys spraying hairspray in Mrs. Veron’s coffee. She’d take a sip and make a face and say out loud, “this coffee is disgusting!” She would throw kids out of her class if they were misbehaving. She was tough, but at least she wasn’t a nun (gasp!).
Come April 1, our class had a plan. Mrs. Veron had put us in five vertical rows up and down the classroom. Immediately after the morning prayer we sat down and it started. Each one of us, starting with the first kid in the first column, took turns yelling the word “chop!” It only got to the fifth kid before Mrs. Veron starting yelling back.
“What is this?!”
“Whad’ya mean chop!?”
Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop…all up and down the classroom until the last kid, brought down the house with:
And we all fell off our chairs in one sweeping metal-hitting-linoleum, ear-cracking noise.
“What on earth!???”
“Get it Mrs. Veron? Chop chop and timber? It’s an April Fool’s Day joke!” (My memory swears it was my friend Lisa explaining…).
“I’ll give you April Fools,” her face is as red as her hair at this point, “chop 500 times…get out your papers! Now!”
“Should I write timber?”
“One thousand times for you Mr. Murphy!”
Happy April Fool’s Day!