Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

An April Fool’s Day legend April 1, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 10:09 AM
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TWENTY-TWO YEARS AGO on March 30, 1990, my cousin Jeff married Janet at the St. Louis County Courthouse in Duluth, MN. It was a small affair with only Janet’s daughters, Heidi and Amber, attending.

Jeff, who hadn’t even told his parents he was dating Janet, shared the news via a printed announcement that proclaimed “And four shall become a family.”

To say Jeff’s parents were surprised would be an understatement. Shocked would be more accurate.

As the story goes, my uncle apparently paled upon reading the news of the marriage and my aunt reacted by picking up the phone. First she called her daughter to see if she knew anything of the unexpected marriage. Dawn didn’t.

Then Marilyn phoned the Floodwood school where Jeff was teaching. I’ll let Jeff tell the story from here. And remember, this was 1990, in the days before telephones in classrooms, so Jeff was pulled out of class to take the call from his mother.

There I sat, the secretary at her desk to my right, the principal at his desk in his office to my left, both just feet away, overhearing one side of this awkward conversation about my recent wedding.

Mom, of course, had many questions—about Janet, about Heidi and Amber, about planning a wedding reception. Well, I was able to calm Mom down enough to tell her to look at the back of the card and remember what day it was, or what day had just passed.

That would be April Fool’s Day. On the back, the new groom had written: “rehcstelk ffej morf gniteerg sloof lirpa na.”

From right to left, Jeff’s message read: “an april fools greeting from jeff kletscher.”

Yes, my creative cousin had just pulled off one of the best family April Fool’s Day jokes ever, the stuff of legends. His marriage to a northwoods bride was pure fiction.

My cousin Dawn, with the help of daughter Megan, made two beautiful anniversary cakes for her brother. My Uncle Wally and Aunt Janice made and decorated the other cake with the beanie baby bears.

Twenty years after that fake marriage, we celebrated Jeff and Janet’s 20th wedding anniversary at the annual Kletscher family reunion in 2010. We decorated the shelterhouse at the park with anniversary banners, crepe paper and tissue paper bells. Relatives came bearing gifts. And there were even three anniversary cakes to celebrate the occasion.

CAN ANYONE out there top Jeff’s April Fool’s Day prank? I’d like to hear. (BTW, my cousin is still single.)

April Fool’s jokes during my childhood consisted of these:

Your toast is burning!

The bus is here!

The cows are out!

I know. Not at all creative.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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