Rushville Republican

April 9, 2013

Ward: Remembering a submarine in the Flatrock River

Bil Ward
Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — Every year around this time my thoughts go back to the best April Fool’s joke in my lifetime. It was after the war and in my mind one of the best most interesting spoofs ever perpetrated on the Rushville community. I would also surmise that Tippy Coons, being the publisher of the Republican and having an overactive imagination, helped lots. It all started with the April 1 edition of the Rushville Republican and it continued for a few days afterward and had many checking it out even though it was blatantly impossible to have occurred.

It seems that there were headlines stating that because of a continued drive for and desire to show appreciation for past fundraisers a US Navy submarine had been sent to Rushville for a day of appreciation and tours would be available at a certain time and date. Also, it stated that there would no doubt be sailors, some in uniform, in town for a day or two. This submarine was to be docked at State Road 44 and Flatrock River bridge by East Hill Cemetery. Tippy then went into a long dissertation on how the submarine had navigated the Mississippi River to the Ohio to Flatrock to Rushville.

The article continued that although it was difficult for the submarine to make the journey it was indeed a feather in Rushville’s cap that it was even attempted. The Republican was the main source of news for the county and city. I suspect that almost everyone subscribed to it and it was a six day a week paper. Tippy owned it and was the publisher and loved a good joke. All this manifested in his April 1 edition. People took a second and third look at the article, but to many it seemed feasible. My father was far from a gullible individual, but even he got the family in the car and off we went to Flatrock River and road 44 to check this out.

The amount of traffic on the road that day was tremendous. There were cars bumper to bumper all the way to town and way out in the country from the other direction. Many parked in East Hill or along the road and actually trundled down to the river to see the submarine docked there. The fact that the river was maybe 4 feet deep at the supposed location didn’t seem to bother anyone. They came, they looked and they were April Fooled. Dad and I both were amazed at the traffic and the number of people who actually went out to check this story out. Of course, neither of us thought about the fact we were among those who did go out to see, just in case.

There were some who actually told their friends and neighbors about the large number of sailors in town and how they were helping the local economy. There were even some who wanted the Mayor to declare a Navy Day in appreciation for the Navy allowing the submarine to visit. Tippy even had a name that escapes me at the moment. He had a picture of a submarine as well as huge head lines all about the sub and its visit. He went into detail on how it came about and in reality made a pretty good case for it to be true. That was evidenced by the large number of those like us who had to check things out.

Nothing like this had been perpetrated on the community in the past so that made it even better for Tippy. Some of the local merchants took advantage of the situation and had Sub burgers, Navy specials or even signs on their windows welcoming the sailors of the USS what ever Tippy said it was to town. There were many, of course, who saw through the charade rapidly, but even so Tippy did such a great job of “reporting” that even though they felt it was impossible for this to be had to go out and see for themselves just what if anything was going on. Mom, Dad and I were among those who knew it difficult if not impossible but just had to go see, and see who else might have been taken in.

I honestly wish I could remember the date this was perpetrated, but I can’t. Was it a good April Fools? In my mind, the best ever in Rushville and one that energized the entire county for a time. It sold papers and entertained many for a few days. So, you youngsters, just remember, you may have some great April Fool jokes you have managed to ply on your friends, but Tippy Coons had the best, biggest one ever played on an entire town.