From The Beacon: Don't be tricked by April Fools' Day news

On April Fools' Day 1957, the British Broadcasting Corporation aired a three-minute documentary about a spaghetti-farming family enjoying a plentiful harvest. It depicted young women gently plucking strands of spaghetti from bushes and carefully laying them out in the sun to dry.

The narrator proclaimed, "There's nothing like homegrown spaghetti." While some people did not see the humor in the prank, others contacted the BBC wondering where they could get their own spaghetti bushes.

Media pranks have become a longstanding tradition on April 1, but this is not the only day people have been fooled by the news.

The March 22, 1937, issue of Life Magazine published some strange photos sent by a correspondent, along with a warning about "what to expect in photography on April 1." The photos featured such odd things as a statue of George Washington backward on his horse and a pet oyster-eating hippo.

Photo manipulation was exacting work in the 1930s, but now you can alter your own photos with a simple computer program. If you're looking for information on how to do it yourself, find out how with Klaus Goelker's "Gimp 2 for Photographers: Image Editing with Open Source Software" or Mike Freeman's "The Complete Guide to Digital Photography."You can even find those 1937 Life photos -- featured on page 79 -- on Google Books (books.google.com).

On October 30, 1938, radio listeners were shocked by a broadcast announcing the arrival of Martians on Earth. Not at all peaceful, the aliens were attacking with great ferocity and incinerating people and buildings across New England. Though repeated announcements told listeners that the program was fiction, many did not stick around long enough to hear. Some were so frightened that they packed their cars and fled their homes.

The broadcast, of course, was Orson Welles' radio adaptation of H.G. Wells' classic science fiction novel "The War of the Worlds." Even today, some remember with great clarity the night they first questioned the potential power of the big box (the radio).Read more about the broadcast in Kathleen Krull's "The Night the Martians Landed: Just the Facts (Plus the Rumors)."

Many of us remember sneaking a peek at Weekly World News, a staple of grocery store tabloid displays everywhere. While other tabloids shifted to celebrity news, Weekly Word maintained its devotion to the outlandish until it ceased publication in 2007. Fortunately for us, a compilation of its greatest satirical stories lives on -- "Bat Boy Lives! The Weekly World News Guide to Politics, Culture, Celebrities, Alien Abductions, and the Mutant Freaks that Shape Our World" by David Perel. Discover which senators are aliens, find out where Elvis has been sighted and follow the continuing saga of Bat Boy, the half-man/half-bat found in a West Virginia cave.

Find these titles and more pranks, hoaxes and outright fiction and enjoy your April Fools' Day at the Beaufort County Library.