Spifflicated, Origins of April Fools’ Day

(Frank) Today on Around Kansas we start with the story of Mike Matson’s riveting new book about his grandparents titled Spifflicated. Next get the lowdown on foolishness – the origins of April Fools’ Day and how its been celebrated over the years. Then enjoy a poem from Ron Wilson and we’ll end the soundtrack from Home on the Range and tips on how to get it. Stay with us!

Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at agpromosource.com.

(Frank Chaffin) Good morning. I’m Frank. (Deb Goodrich) I’m Deb. (Frank) This is Around Kansas on your Wednesday morning. Gee, you know daylight savings started a couple weeks ago and all that. (Deb) I hate daylight savings. I hate it. (Frank) I know. I mean it’s still dark out there. (Deb) I hate it. They take that hour away from me and I do not trust them to give it back. Here we are sitting in the Statehouse. Do I trust my government to give me that hour back? I do not. I’m here to tell you. (Frank) Well, you are on the terror on the government. Well, I mean we are where the hot air lives. (Deb) I’m trying to be good. They may be listening to us too, Frank. (Frank) I hope they are. (Deb) They’re probably listening in on us right now. (Frank) Take care of business. (Deb) Yes, really. (Frank) They’re right up there. (Deb) Oh heck. Okay. I didn’t mean all the things I said during the break. Honest. Okay. We got some good stuff to talk about. (Frank) Yes, we do. We always have great stories. (Deb) We always have great stories despite what goes on here. [Laughter] (Deb) Okay. Smoke in the Spring is coming back this year. Osage City, Jones Park. Taste of Osage City, April seventh and April eighth. April eighth is my birthday. Everybody go down to Osage City and celebrate my birthday with Smoke in the Spring. Smoke in the Spring. They’re having live music. They’ve got a fireworks display that night. Just all kinds of great things going on. Osage City, again, is just one of those little towns in Kansas that does so much to keep the community alive and it’s just great folks. Beautiful little park down there. It’s a wonderful town. (Frank) Do they do smoke on the water or is the smoke on grass? Smoke on the water. (Deb) They are doing — they are soundproofing the Wren Studios because Frank’s neighbors in his brand-new studio came over and said, “Somebody over there is singing.” Apparently, it was disturbing people and Frank said, “That’s me.” They’re like, “Oh no.” Yes, it’s Frank. It might be better for our ratings if you don’t sing, Frank. (Frank) Okay. (Deb) Anyway, they’re going to have barbecue. That’s where the smoke comes from is the barbecue so they keep barbecuing. They be barbecuing in Osage City, yes. How much fun is that? Yes. When you go down there, you tell them that Around Kansas sent you. (Frank) Yes. How much barbecue do they have? I mean, is it like a contest? (Deb) Enough. They got enough, Frank. They’ve got enough for everybody. Yes. We’ll talk about it some more next week. In the meantime, they’ve got a Facebook page. You can visit their Facebook page and we’ll share that on our Around Kansas Facebook page. Everybody like it. We’ve got — what? We have almost 5,000 people that like our Facebook page. Is that right, Frank? (Frank) Yes. They’re great. (Deb) Bless your hearts. Thank you. (Frank) Thank you very much. (Deb) We appreciate that. We get people posting photographs on Facebook and sharing segments and we’ve got a YouTube channel and all that good stuff. I had a couple of comments on our YouTube videos the other day about little mistakes we’ve made. (Frank) Oh. We don’t make any mistakes, do we? (Deb) That must have been Frank. It would. I thought — we appreciate that. If there’s something that needs to be corrected and there’s a couple of little things there. One of them they said that I misspoke and said that Comanche who was the only survivor of Custer’s men at the Little Bighorn, men and horses, died in 1891 and I apparently said 1991. Of course, you all know that I know that was wrong. That was a slip-up that Michael didn’t catch. We’re blaming it on the kid. We’re blaming it on Michael. I don’t know what we’ll do about the rest of the errors but that one we’re going to put on Michael. Hey, we got it great show – error free. (Frank) Error free.

(Frank) We’re back I think. I got lost. (Deb) Interrupted by Willie Prescott from the Attorney General’s office who is a good friend and who is one of those people we go way back to when he was a legislator and he would talk about Sean Gatewood who was just a skinny kid that was, I don’t know, 10 when he got elected to legislature or something and Willie would call him his page. They would walk around together. Willie is in the AG’s office now and does a really fine job. Very good friend. All right. Spifflicated. This is a book by our old friend Mike Matson. I know you and Mike go back — I think I go back with Mike to the Graves administration. Spifflicated means it’s a past tense verb. It means drunk. It is a 1920s jazz era word. See also ossified or zozzled. [Laughter] (Deb) This is Mike’s family memoir. Mike is 25 years sober. When he started looking into his dysfunctional family which most of us are not brave enough to do and he talks about that in the introduction to his book about how he grew up distant from his father and the difficult childhood and even though Mike is brilliant as we all know and has had a very successful career, he had a lot of inner demons to battle. This book goes back to the root of that with his grandparent’s relationship. It’s called creative nonfiction. He’s just gone back and figured out what he could. Filled in the conversations but its their life and I can’t tell you how good the writing is. It’s amazing. It’s an amazing book. (Frank) Not only that. You learned a new word. (Deb) You learned a new word. We’re here for you. We’re all about educational programming here at Around Kansas. You’re going to love this segment. There is a cautionary tale about climbing the family tree…you might not like the people you find there. In Mike Matson’s case, he was fairly certain it wasn’t going to be pretty, but he has the soul of a reporter and the need to know won over the possible pain. We can all be grateful for the risk he took. The seed for Spifflicated was planted during three years of purposeful conversations between Mike Matson and his father. His father saw the end of his life approaching and wanted to download some data about his childhood. The essence of those visits is something Mike had long suspected. Both his father’s parents were alcoholics. Mike has dealt with his own demons. Twenty-five years sober, he has spent some time thinking about the tendency to become an alcoholic, the factors that may be inherited, the factors that may be the resulting of adapting to a situation. His grandparents are fascinating, colorful, dysfunctional people. Mike’s memoir follows their lives over the 25-year-period from 1931 to 1956. The conversations with his father rekindled Matson’s erstwhile inner journalist. He did the research, dug up the facts, and interviewed those with active memories of his father’s parents. This allowed him to hang some truth on his suspicions and construct an accurate timeline of their lives. It is no ordinary timeline — a houseboat honeymoon down the Mississippi River from St. Paul to New Orleans in the heart of the Great Depression, a cross-country motorcycle adventure, on the front line of FDR’s New Deal projects, evacuation from Alaska in the weeks after Pearl Harbor, his grandmother’s “Rosie the Riveter” experience, life in the foothills of the Cascades, a move to Kansas and the largest-producing oil field in North America. This volume is characterized as creative non-fiction. The writing is superb and the story is tragic and riveting. Mike’s willingness to share it so honestly and compassionately is the triumph over all those sad and lost moments his father and grandparents experienced. Throughout a career in journalism, politics/government and advocacy, Mike has written many words over a host of media. Spifflicated is his first actual book. Today he manages messages, systems and expectations. He lives where he was born, in Manhattan, Kansas, with his wife, Jackie.

(Frank) Here we are again. Aren’t you delighted? (Deb) We’ve got a segment coming up on April Fool’s and this is Frank’s segment and I can’t think of a better place to do an April Fool’s joke than in the Statehouse, can you? (Frank) Yes. Well, you’ve got April showers, bring May flowers and April in Paris and all kinds of April but it all happens after April Fools’ Day. (Deb) Again, you can’t wait to get them the May Basket, can you? [Laughter] (Frank) The May Basket — you should get candy sometimes. (Deb) We are going to see what we can do for you on May Day, Frank. We really are. But April and me, my birthday is April eighth. Yes. Start planning ahead. I generally celebrate for at least a week, maybe a month. Yes. April Fool’s Day is the birthday of my dear friend Dana Anson. We want to wish Dana Anson a happy birthday and assured no mistake that she was born on April Fool’s Day because it’s — there’s Jim McLean going through the Statehouse. (Jim McLean) Going where? (Deb) Going through the Statehouse. Yes. Live appearance by Jim McLean right now. [Laughs]. Our TV show, Around Kansas. Jim McLean has apparently never heard of Around Kansas but we’re going to fix that right now. Stay tuned for Frank’s April Fool’s Day story. (Frank) For the lowdown on the foolishness we turn to the experts at History.com. And it seems they are not sure of the origins of this day’s antics themselves. Although April Fools’ Day or All Fools’ Day has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, its exact origins remain a mystery. Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the New Year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes. These included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “April fish”, meaning a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person. Historians have also linked April Fools’ Day to ancient festivals such as Hilaria, which was celebrated in Rome at the end of March and involved people dressing up in disguises. There’s also speculation that April Fools’ Day was tied to the vernal equinox, or first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, when Mother Nature fooled people with changing, unpredictable weather. April Fools’ Day spread throughout Britain during the 18th century. In Scotland, the tradition became a two-day event, starting with “hunting the gowk,” in which people were sent on phony errands, gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool, and followed by Tailie Day, which involved pranks played on people’s derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on them. In modern times, people have gone to great lengths to create elaborate April Fools’ Day hoaxes. Newspapers, radio and TV stations and Web sites have participated in the April 1 tradition of reporting outrageous fictional claims that have fooled their audiences. In 1957, the BBC reported that Swiss farmers were experiencing a record spaghetti crop and showed footage of people harvesting noodles from trees; numerous viewers were fooled. In 1985, Sports Illustrated tricked many of its readers when it ran a made-up article about a rookie pitcher named Sidd Finch who could throw a fastball over 168 miles per hour. In 1996, Taco Bell, the fast-food restaurant chain, duped people when it announced it had agreed to purchase Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell and intended to rename it the Taco Liberty Bell. In 1998, after Burger King advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper,” scores of clueless customers requested the fake sandwich. Be ever vigilant, dear viewers, not to fall prey to the pranksters of April.

(Ron Wilson) Cowboys love to train animals; sometimes the animals can train us. This poem is entitled Horse Training. On a hot summer morning, I walked out to train a young horse we were teaching to ride in the ring. The flies really buzzing in the hot morning sun, as I walked to the barn with my two little sons. One said, “Dad, you see those two horses right there, standing together like they were a pair. They get close together, and that’s how they graze, but their heads are facing in opposite ways. So the head of the one is by the tail of the other. Why do they do that?” he asked me and his brother. I said, You’re a mighty observant young man. And I’ll answer your question the best that I can. You see there’s lots of flies around this cow lot, they’re a natural pest that we’ve always got. The horse uses its tail to shoo off those flies, like I do with my hand if the need should arise. But the tail is too short to reach that horse’s head, so they’ve learned they can partner with another horse instead. They can stand close together, one’s head by the others tail. Then they can shoo the flies off each other without fail, so that’s why the horses stand together that way. Now go in the barn and get ‘em some hay. While the boys did their chores I stopped and I thought, There’s a message for me in that lesson I taught. If horses can learn to cooperate too, there is no limit to what we as people can do. There’s some things a person can’t do as just one, when we work together so much more can get done. If we partner together which is really my druthers, we’ll share the rewards as we serve each other. It’s a mutual benefit that we can treasure, if like all those horses we all stand together. It was time to begin that pony’s training lessons, but I looked at my kids and thanked God for my blessings. At supper that night my wife says to me, “How’d that training go for the new pony?” I said, It went well but not in the usual way. My kids and my horses taught me a lot today. Happy Trails.

(Deb) You’ll have to excuse us. We had to take some time out to visit with some of our fans who were walking through the Statehouse here. It’s nice when people like you. (Frank) Oh boy, you get cramps from signing all the autographs. (Deb) I know. I had to switch ink pens twice, yes. Speaking of signing autographs, the Home on the Range CD has been released and you have got to have it. It is phenomenal. Just so many good people are involved with it and on the CD. There’s going to be more screenings coming up but I want to give a shout out one particular person on this CD because she’s been a dear friend of mine for many many years and she sings like an angel. She’s tall, blond, gorgeous, talented. If she weren’t just the sweetest person on earth, you’d be green with envy because she’s got it all and that’s Connie Dover. Are you familiar with Connie Dover? (Frank) No, I’m not. (Deb) Connie lives over in Westin, Missouri but has spent a lot of time in Kansas and in the west. Really, she’s this tall, gorgeous blonde and she sings like an angel. One of her songs is on here. She’s generally at the IrishFest in Kansas City. She does a lot of Gaelic music but she’s just one of the outstanding talents on this brand new CD. I can’t say enough about how good it is. (Frank) Let’s look at the story. (Deb) The Home on the Range soundtrack album was officially released on CD and electronically – iTunes and all of the other major download sites – on March 10. Home on the Range is the docudrama about how a simple lament written by Dr. Brewster Higley in Smith County, Kansas, became one of the most beloved songs in America and one of the most recognized around the world. Produced by Lone Chimney Films and directed by Ken Spurgeon, the film has screened in several locations to capacity crowds. DVDs are in the works. Follow Lone Chimney Films on Facebook for other screening venues. It’s a movie about a song so obviously choosing the right music was hugely important. Enter Orin Friesen, veteran musician and radio personality. He and his son, Jesse, produced the CD and selected the talent. And that talent is amazing! From Michael Martin Murphey to the band KANSAS, yes, KANSAS, harmonizing on Home on the Range is simply unforgettable. But so too is the performance of the McKinney Sisters, Keep on the Sunny Side. Jed Marum has been involved with Lone Chimney Films for years and his contribution is always inspired. Old favorites Roy Faulkner and the Sons of the Pioneers, the Diamond W Wranglers, Skip Gorman, Barry Ward, John McEuen and the angelic Connie Dover are only some of the artists featured on this CD. This is so carefully and beautifully done. You might as well order two because you will want to share. The cost is $15. Proceeds from the soundtrack will help maintain the “Home on the Range” cabin and grounds in Smith County, and will support the mission of Lone Chimney Films to produce quality films.

(Frank) Well, we have to go. I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) We’ll see you somewhere — (Frank and Deb) Around Kansas.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at agpromosource.com.

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