Getty Images/Courtesy Reminisce Magazine
The 1950s were wonderful years to grow up in northern Indiana. I was in high school then, and it was customary that the senior class would play a joke on the principal at the end of the school year.
In mid-March, we had a class meeting to discuss Senior Day and the Senior Day joke. A show of hands indicated the majority of the class wasn’t into joking. Over the following weekend, I discussed this with two of my brothers and my boyfriend. They agreed that the class of 1955 couldn’t walk away from tradition. At the time, I was a short, red-haired, bespectacled girl. A true innocent, or so everyone thought. But as the oldest of four and the only girl, I really had an evil, twisted mind.
My oldest brother was a student coach for the varsity teams and had access to the main part of the school. My middle brother was friends with one of the custodians. They agreed to get me into the main hallway, by the principal’s office, and arrange for a ladder to be in that hall on Thursday evening the following week.
At 8:30 the following Thursday, my boyfriend and I eased through the door my brother had left ajar for me. The ladder was in place, and the custodian told me which ceiling tile I needed to move to get into the ventilation duct over the principal’s office. Less than 10 minutes and the deed was done. We made sure the door was securely closed before we ran all the way to my house. The next day was April 1. The weather was warmer than usual, and the custodian asked the principal if he should turn on the ventilation system. Good idea! It took about 10 minutes before there was a strange noise swishing through the vents. The principal was running up and down the halls, trying to discover where the noise originated. This went on for the rest of the day.
When we arrived at school on Monday, the principal made an announcement over the intercom. “Were the marbles in the ventilating system the senior-class prank? I want to know who, when, and how this prank was carried out. Now!” Of course, no one knew anything. I considered confessing right then, but the principal thought I was quite the angel.
We graduated May 27. I had a speaking part in the ceremony, and when I had finished the approved speech, I said, “Mr. Principal, fellow classmates, I put 500 marbles in the ventilation system over the principal’s office on April 1. I felt it was my duty to preserve the tradition.” No one believed me, but I had confessed. My conscience was clear.
When I attended the 25th class reunion, the principal shook my hand, then patted it gently and said, “I realized a few weeks after graduation that you probably had played the prank—otherwise how could you know there were 500 marbles?”
I just smiled and said, “May I buy you a drink, sir?”