No one in the world could possibly organize a better snipe hunt than the Santa Rosa Squeedunks, and in 1909 the gang was found one evening out by the Rural Cemetery, making a commotion to herd the tasty little critters towards the burlap sack being patiently held by their newest enlistee. The sucker honored party holding the bag was a Scotsman named Bobbie McIvor; leading the hunt was Charlie Holmes, who was also behind the 1908 revival of “The Ancient and Disreputable Order of Squeedunks” at Santa Rosa’s Fourth of July parade.

 An unexpected bit of fun was had at the expense of the Squeedunk assigned to watch for the owner of the property, who was known to take potshots at poachers. Once Charlie and the rest of the crew pulled out guns and began firing blanks to flush out the snipe, their intrepid sentry assumed it was the farmer shooting at him, and “made a half mile at a speed that would have put [champion race horse] Lou Dillon to shame.”

The other big prank of 1909 happened on April Fool’s Day, which always brought reports of exploding cigars or elaborate tricks around Santa Rosa. This year, someone placed a dummy outside of a family home and began hammering on the door before dawn, shouting that there was a corpse on the porch. As the awakened husband rushed downstairs, his wife, likely in groggy condition, began filling a kettle with water to (somehow) help the deceased. The joke was discovered, but the running faucet was forgotten in the confusion. “The tepid flood continued to run without check until a tardy plumber rendered his services some hours later,” the Republican newspaper reported. Made you ruin your rugs and floors! Ha, ha, April fool!

Completing our survey of 1909 pranks: Hallowe’en passed that year without incident, probably because Santa Rosa police announced they would be patrolling school buildings to prevent mischief. Nationwide, it seemed like it was a pretty quiet holiday, particularly in contrast to the 1907 Hallowe’en when at least seven people died.

Fusillade at Midnight Alarms People in the Vicinity of the Old Rural Cemetery

Those rifle shots and shouts from hillside and hollow back of Rural Cemetery as the midnight hour was waning last Sunday night, that are said to have struck some sort of terror into stout hearts, have been explained and the people are breathing easier. Laughter has succeeded fear and the dread of some mysterious tragedy has faded away.

But that there were shots and shouts on Sunday night there is no question. President Charles H. Holmes of the Ancient Order of Squeedunks, is authority for that and there are half a dozen others. One man whom we will name “Bobbie” McIvor, formerly of the Highlands of Scotland, will take an oath as to it. McIvor accompanied President Holmes and party to the little valley back of the graveyard on Sunday night, the plan being to secure some “snipe” as one dish for a banquet at which the plasterers at work on the new courthouse were to commemorate at the completion of their big contract. Mr. McIvor, Holmes says, very willingly volunteered to hold the open sack and the candle and catch the “snipe” when the others drove them into the attractiveness and allurement of the candle light.

With all the traditions of bravery clustering about his illustrious clansman amid the bonnie braes of Scotland, “Bobbie” took his station. He had been waiting for some time when all of a sudden there was a fusillade of rifle shots and voices from the darkness shrieked at him and bade him “avaunt.” He did so.

But the joke was not all on him, either. Another man in the party had not been informed of the presence of the rifle and blank cartridges. But he had been told to lookout as the man on whose ranch they were standing was a terror to poachers and would as soon shoot a man as not. Consequently at the report of the first cartridge he took to his heels and in leaps and bounds made a half mile at a speed that would have put Lou Dillon to shame, President Holmes says.

It was the old snipe joke after all, and all concerned are still smiling, including “Bobbie.”

– Press Democrat, October 7, 1909

Rumor of Early April Death is Refuted

An April fool joke that materialized in a highly successful way was perpetrated this morning in one of the suburban households of this city. A gentleman and his wife were rudely awakened from sleep at the unearthly hour of 5 o’clock by a tremendous beating at the door, and the voice of another inmate of the place announcing that a man had fallen dead on the back porch. They hurriedly donned their respective raiment and the man sallied out to hold a preliminary post mortem, while his wife rushed upstairs to inform the sleepers above of the casualty and to get some hot water to aid in resuscitating the passed away. By this time the particular day upon the calendar suggested itself to some one, and it was found that the man who had fallen dead upon the back porch not only had not died, but had never lived at all. The entire population of the building had been rousted out with the exception of two or three young men who were either too much under the soporific influence of the April day to desist from slumber, or else they felt that they had no arts about them that could restore to animation the supposed deceased one. The only damage resulting from the misunderstanding was that when the lady went to secure the hot water for the purpose stated somewhere above, she left the facet open and the tepid flood continued to run without check until a tardy plumber rendered his services some hours later. As has been remarked here before there was no grievance ensuing from playing of the joke except perhaps a slight sentiment of disappointment might have been observed displayed on the faces of the fooled that the joke was only a joke after all.

– Santa Rosa Republican, April 1, 1909


Chief of Police Fred J. Rushmore has arranged details of officers for tonight and will have an officer stationed at each of the school buildings to arrest any one interfering in any manner with the public property during the night.

Heretofore on Hallowe’en it has been the custom for boys to ring the school bells and play pranks in and around the school buildings. None of this will be allowed this year.

– Press Democrat, October 30, 1909

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