Haven History: Fido isn’t mail carrier’s only foe

By Lou Bernard

April 1st, 2013

For April Fools’ Day, we’ve all heard of the joy buzzer prank. Many of the less fortunate and more gullible among us have had it pulled on them. It goes like this: A small electrical device is attached to someone’s hand, and then they offer to shake hands with someone else. Instead of a warm gesture of friendship and respect, they wind up with a handful of painful electricity.

In 1946, it wasn’t April, it was July—But a mailbox on a Lock Haven street corner was turned into a giant joy buzzer.

Probably, that wasn’t entirely deliberate.

The event was detailed in a newspaper article entitled,”Mailing Letters is Shocking Pastime.” It had been a bad month for storms—Many electrical storms had scattered the area, causing considerable damage. Some of the damage happened to a traffic light stand at the northeast corner of Main and Vesper Streets, where a mailbox hung.

A short circuit and a loose wire gave the mailbox an electrical current, converting the mailbox into a joy buzzer and giving everyone an unexpected surprise.

As if mailing a payment for a bill isn’t bad enough, everyone who touched the mailbox got a buzz. “Letter-mailers were prompt in letting go of the letter drop,” the article said.

So congratulations! Now, in addition to not shaking hands, you have to avoid mailing things!

At some point, someone called the police, possibly under the assumption that the mailbox was drunk and disorderly. The police arrived, and presumably tested the mailbox themselves, finding out that, yes, it was shocking people. They reported back to City Hall. Mayor Edgar Heffner, who was also responsible for bringing Piper Aviation to town, sent out a repair crew.

By nightfall, they had it all straightened out, and things went back to normal.

So as April Fools’ Day approaches, it’s something to keep in mind—Electrified mailboxes are hilarious! Not that I’m actually advocating this. But if anyone happens to get a buzz from a mailbox, well, thanks for reading. Personally I plan to hide at the library and not come out until it’s all over.

Lou Bernard is the Literary Overlord at Ross Library and can be contacted at ross13@rosslibrary.org

Posted in: A&E

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