April Fool’s Day was invented in 1956 by Maury Swartz, a dentist from Far Rockaway NewYork. Dr. Swartz wrote a letter to President Eisenhower wanting to create a national holiday for miniature horses called Neigh Day. The letter found its way into the hands of the Under Secretary of the Interior Donnelly Flanderhooven.
Believing the letter was a practical joke, Flanderhooven created the required paper work to get Neigh Day declared a federal holiday. His plan was to slip it onto the agenda of the Oversight Committee for American Activities and Fast Food Initiatives to give the senators a good laugh.
The committee gave the document their stamp of approval sending the paperwork on to Congress for a vote. With his joke backfiring Flanderhooven desperately tried to explain to committee chairman Senator Felsley Backgammon that Neigh Day wasn’t real, only his attempt at a joke. Long noted for not having a sense of humor or a gall bladder, Senator Backgammon commented, “By God it’s on its way to being real because my gavel said so.”
Racing to the House of Representatives to intercept the Neigh Day bill, Flanderhooven ran into the personal assistant of the speaker of the house and was told that they had already voted on the Neigh Day bill and it passed unanimously 435-0. It was already on its way to the senate.
Flanderhooven ran to the Senate floor where he had a stroke, collapsing into the arms of a page while saying the word “Neigh” over and over. Believing that he was there to stump for the passage of the Neigh Day bill, the senate voted unanimously for approval after only a small argument from the honorable Daily Higgenbottom from Maine who suggested moving the date to May 1 and calling it May Hay Day.
With Flanderhooven in the hospital the bill landed on President Eisenhower’s desk. The first thing he did was add a note to the bottom of the bill that read “This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever read.” In the margin he scribbled “Is this what congress does all day?” The next thing he did was rename it April Fool’s Day. The last thing Eisenhower did before lighting up a cigar and pouring a glass of Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve bourbon, was sign the bill into law.
That’s the story of April Fool’s Day. Or is it?