A History of the Pioneer Log’s April Fool’s Day editions
By Tyler Wayne Patterson /// Web & Social Media Manager
The Pioneer Log has featured a special April Fool’s Day edition since April 1, 1949, when writers neglected to change the masthead, title or state that it was all a joke. The lead alleged that President Odell was fired, and jokes frequently surrounded the separation of men and women in campus life but never approached anything remotely sexual.
A few things remain consistent throughout early April Fool’s Day Pioneer Log: a rigid gender binary as the center of many jokes, writers using aliases in their bylines and the mocking of conservatives.
“Manzanita liberators strip forest ties” read a headline in the Militant Log on April 1, 1982. The story was accompanied by a photo of four shirtless men and claimed that “Manzanitans” elected to secede from Forest and create LC’s first clothing-optional dorm.
The story included a jab at Evangelical Christianity, saying that the vote was deliberately done on a Sunday to exclude the residence hall’s “high concentration of ‘born again’ Christians” from voting. The nearly page-long story cheekily mentions bottoms, ejaculation and the opportunity to spectate.
Today’s Pioneers can read archived April Fool’s Day editions and understand many jokes, but many others remain unclear. Was nudity and Christianity in Manzanita funny because it was in line with the culture of Manzi at the time, or was it funny because, contrary to today’s stereotype, the dorm housed a high number of conservative church-going Christians?
That said, the jokes do provide an opportunity to understand the the culture of students through- out the decades. In the 1982 Manzanita story, a Copeland resident said that she was unaware of what happens in “upper-campus” dorms, saying “no one gets up there unless there’s a party or something.” Another story on the back mocked a Student Conservative Action Group. This story’s humor lies in the doubtful nature of such a group on campus.
Years before, the Pioneer Dog was published on April Fool’s Day 1975. This April Fool’s Day issue cites a reason for its low quality: the staff chose alcohol over the paper. The front page story alleges that forty-five staff members were “terminated” by the Editor-in-Chief after staffers were found drinking and having what was most likely sex— the Editor-in-Chief wasn’t too sure, but did say that the people rub- bing against each other “consisted of opposing sexes.” The writers intended this to be an explicit indication of sex, relying on heteronormativity for readers to get the reference. A mock let- ter to the editor from a “Hoyt S. Petard” titled “Retard slandered,” would, due to its vulgarity, face vocal opposition if published today.
In the 1955 Pioneer Smog, the front page story alleges a male athlete was voted May Queen as an attempt to “de-emphasize” athletics on campus. A joke that reflects a cultural change on campus, yet perhaps has a timeless element.
Tyler Wayne Patterson writes about American and campus politics and history. He is the Social Media & Website Manager for The Pioneer Log. Follow him on twitter: @tylerpatterson