The April Fool edition of the student newspaper is part of a long-standing tradition at Millikin. The first known example of a Decaturian April Fool's headline was published on March 29, 1928, with "John Doe Murdered: Meets Tragic Death At Hand Of Richard Roe." Since then, over 30 Decaturians have included at least some April Fool content.
"University Files Damage Suit; Asks $500,000 from Wabash R.R.," blazed the Decaturian's main headline in 1950. This article, dated March 31, reported on a lawsuit brought by Millikin against the Wabash Railroad for damages from "uncontrolled whistle blowing by the Wabash trains near the university."
Not only was the noise causing Mrs. Maxwell's English students to earn "unusually low grades…[due to] nervous tension and emotional instability," home economics students were experiencing "fallen cakes, curdled milk, and a long list of burns and scalds occasioned by the unexpected sound(s)."
Registrar and psychology professor Mr. Kerns, whose office was near the epicenter of the "noisy bedlam," was apparently driven to the edge of sanity and jammed a small waste basket over his head to block the noise. He then became stuck and tripped out an open window. Thankfully, he was eventually freed with a can opener.
Further examination showed that the Millikin campus was rife with curious incidents that week including "FBI Men Stop Commie Rioting In Taylor Hall" and "Williams Leads Seance Behind Closed Doors." Finally, the readers' eyes were drawn to a small notice on the lower part of the page, which clues them in on the cause of this strange nexus of events. April Fool!
Sometimes the content was marked with a special visual cue. Red ink was used to print several issues, but in 1970, it was printed in green and the masthead read Soy Bean Corn. At times, the masthead was upside down, articles were printed in all directions, or headlines for the April Fool content were upside down. Some special names for the edition have included the Pago-Pagan Old P.U., the Millikin Tribune, the Millikin Spectator & Voyeur, the Sukaturian, the Dorkaturian, the Depravaturian and the deprav.
Fodder for April Fool fun has remained fairly constant through the years. Perhaps the most common butt of these jokes has been the University faculty, including stories that had Professor Bonnie Blackburn arrested behind a local pool hall for running a cock fighting ring, Professor A. T. Mills being taken away to prison, Dr. Leslie Munneke leading a coup to seize the University presidency and a 1931 headline reading "Whoopee Party Staged by Faculty: Socially Elite, Intellectually Boresome Gathering Becomes Riot."
Other common themes have included the cafeteria food, with the headline "Slater Serves Raw Fish; K-Rations To Students" in 1966, University programming with "Chippendales rock Krapland" in 1998, and other aspects of campus life such as a "Three Acre Beer Hall Donated by Ed Lindsay" or the "New Dorm to be Constructed During Summer: 500 Rooms with Private Baths To Feature New Building; Suggest Personal Maids," in 1936. Sports also took part when a headline read, "Swimmers sucked down drain," in 1998.
So each April 1, beware being made an April Fool … and don't worry about the zombie invasions and 110-pound cockroaches, the nuclear shield will protect us!
by Amanda Pippitt, University Archivist
Amanda Pippitt is Millikin's access services coordinator, and archivist and research instruction librarian. She has worked at the university since 2004. She earned her master's degree in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and also holds bachelor's and master's degrees in anthropology.