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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

April 1, 707

Happy first day of April everybody!  And, a very happy first Tuesday Timeline of April to all of you too!  I've thought long and hard about what kind of a topic I was going to feature today, and I think I've come up with one that is sure to be an interesting story to say the least.  Let's just say that the inspiration came to me almost by chance.

Of course, before we go ahead with today's Tuesday Timeline entry, why don't we go ahead with other happenings that took place on April 1 throughout the years.  Why don't we start with these notable events?

1789 - The United States House of Representatives holds its first quorum in New York City and elects Frederick Muhlenberg at its first House Speaker

1826 - Samuel Morey patents the internal combustible engine

1854 - Charles Dickens' novel "Hard Times" begins serialisation in his magazine, "Household Words"

1873 - 547 people are killed after British steamer RMS Atlantic sinks off the coast of Nova Scotia

1887 - The Mumbai Fire Brigade is founded

1891 - The Wrigley Company - famous for Juicy Fruit and Big Red chewing gum - is founded

1924 - The Royal Canadian Air Force is founded

1928 - American actor George Grizzard (d. 2007) is born in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina

1932 - American actor/Maytag repairman Gordon Jump (d. 2003) is born in Dayton, Ohio

1946 - An 8.6 magnitude earthquake near the Aleutian Islands sends a tsunami in the direction of the Hawaiian Islands, which kills 159 people

1949 - The twenty-six counties of the Irish Free State become Ireland

1957 - The BBC gets the last laugh on its viewers after broadcasting a news story about the "spaghetti tree"

1963 - Television soap opera "General Hospital" debuts on ABC

1970 - President Richard Nixon signs the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act into law, which places health warnings on cigarette packages and effectively ends all radio and television ads for cigarettes by 1971

1976 - Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne form Apple, Inc.

1989 - British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher introduces the "Community Charge" tax in Scotland

1992 - The beginning of the Bosnian War

1997 - Comet Hale-Bopp is seen passing over perihelion

1999 - Nunavut officially becomes the third Canadian territory

2000 - A freak Koosh ball accident on the set of "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" sends six people to hospital and leads to a nationwide ban on the product which lasts a total of two years

2001 - The Netherlands becomes the first nation in the world to allow same-sex marriage

2010 - American actor John Forsythe dies at the age of 92

And, we also have a lot of celebrity birthdays today.  I want to wish a happy birthday to Jonathan Haze, Jane Powell, Grace Lee Whitney, Debbie Reynolds, Don Hastings, Jordan Charney, Ali MacGraw, Reggie Mantle, Annette O'Toole, Barry Sonnenfeld, Don Hasselbeck, Denise Nickerson, Jennifer Runyon, Susan Boyle, Mark White (ABC), Phillip Schofield, Chris Evans (UK), Traci Lind, Jessica Collins, Rachel Maddow, Kym Wilson, Colby Donaldson, Jon Gosselin, Bijou Phillips, Hannah Spearitt, Sam Worthington, Taran Killam, Hillary Scott, and Kayla Collins.

So, what date are we going to be featuring in this Tuesday Timeline?

WHAT?  Really?  We're going back over thirteen hundred years ago to April 1, 707?  Wow, there has to be something big that happened on that date for me to consider that one!

And for this one, the setting is going to be a marketplace in Italy.

You see, before the advent of online shopping, big box stores, and shopping malls became commonplace, in order to pick up the necessary everyday items needed for a way of life, people had to resort to some mighty creative ways to hock their wares.  Some people sent their goods on cargo ships, while others travelled from country to country in order to establish trade agreements between nations.  And before the advent of cash registers and modern day currency, many retail customers relied on the skill of bartering and trading in order to get everything they wanted at the best possible price. 

Back in the marketplaces of Italy, it wasn't uncommon for people to trade two chickens for one bag of tomatoes.  After all, currency wasn't exactly used in all parts of the world at this time.  Heck, copper coins weren't brought into most currencies until later in the eighth century.  Back in those days, people who wanted to buy something really had to be quite firm and flexible in what they really wanted, or else they might risk losing everything.

Certainly the hero of our story, a 23-year-old man by the name of Pesco d'Aprile, was someone who really had to think on his feet in order to feed his family.  As the oldest of seven children - all of whom were living near poverty in the southern part of the country - Pesco knew that he had to really made his trades count.  But all he really had was a bag of tacks, and certainly not everybody was willing to just give him enough food to feed his family for a whole month in exchange for a bag of tacks.

But he also knew that he had to be careful.  Because merchants in the nearby Piazza del Mercato Burla were known for playing tricks on unsuspecting customers, playing mind games with them and causing them to sign over every single piece of property they owned - including land.  One of Pesco's neighbours tried to negotiate a deal with the Piazza's most ruthless merchant, a man by the name of Bambini Sibilo, and he ended up with nothing, after Sibilo's dirty tactics forced him to sign away his land to him.  He had not been seen in the little Italian village since.

Still, although many people feared the ways of Sibilo, they still found themselves strangely unable to resist him.  He did after all have the best stuff for trade in the entire Piazza - most of it the belongings of the villagers he had tricked over a period of twenty years.  Some foolish villagers even tried to get Sibilo to give back their stuff, but Sibilo just ended up taking more from them.

You see, in Sibilo's world, all he had to do was give his customers the least amount possible for the most amount of stuff.  That way, they still left the store with something.  It didn't matter that he was essentially ripping them off.  His rule was that as long as his customers left with something, it was deemed good business.

And of course, nobody challenged him.  After all, his mind playing skills were so legendary that even the strongest of men fell victim to his charms.

That is, until the first of April, 707.

On that day, Pesco d'Aprile, armed with his sack of tacks, found himself in the middle of the Piazza and he was looking for something decent to trade them for.  Naturally, he knew that the best place to trade goods was Sibilo's trading post, but he also knew that almost everybody who tried bartering with Sibilo always ended up losing their shirts - and their pants - to the greedy, despicable man.

Little did he know that the tacks in his bag would cause him to not only get one over on Sibilo, but put Sibilo out of business for good.

He approached Sibilo's booth and made his plea.  Knowing that he had enough food at his stand to feed his family for weeks, he offered to trade his bag of tacks for a bag of food.  Naturally, Sibilo laughed at the puny offer, and told him that there was nothing that he could trade for a bag of tacks at all.

Well, except for a piece of rope, that is.

Once again, it appeared as though Sibilo had played his cards well.  He received a bag of tacks, and traded it for a worthless piece of rope.  Everything seemed to be going his way.

That is, until Pesco came up with an idea.

"Before we make this trade complete, how about we play a game?"

To which Sibilo replied "What are you foolish?  The deal is over!"

"But, Sibilo, sir."  Pesco replied.  "I have not signed anything stating that these tacks are yours yet.  As far as I am concerned, the tacks are still mine and the rope is still yours.  But what if we use my tacks and your rope to play a game."  If you win, the deal goes on as planned.

"And if you win?"  Sibilo said with a scowl.

"If I win, you must not only give me what I requested, but you have to give back everything that you swindled from all of these innocent villagers.  What say you?  All or nothing?  What say you?"

Sibilo laughed.  He was the king of games.  This would be like taking tacks away from a Pesco for sure.

"I am in."

Sibilo watched in amusement as Pesco used a sharp rock to cut the rope into four equal pieces.  He then arranged the pieces so that they would form a grid with a center square and eight partial squares surrounding it.  Pesco emptied the bag of tacks and noticed that the tacks were two different colours, white and black.

"You can be the black tacks".  Pesco said.  "I'll be the white."

"And how you play this game?"   Sibilo asked.

"The first person to get three of the same coloured tacks in a row wins.  In the event that nobody has three tacks in a row at the end of the game, the person with the most squares in their colour wins the prize.  I'll tell you what, I'll even go first, just to show you how the game is played."

"Fine by me."  Sibilo said with a scowl.

The game progressed as Pesco happily placed his first tack in the center square.  Sibilo followed suit with a tack of his own.  The game continued, with Sibilo eyeing the board carefully, and making sure there was no way that he could win the game by thwarting every possible chance Pesco had to get three tacks in a row.  By the end of the round, the board looked like this.

And, with that, Sibilo exclaimed, "Hah!  I win!  I stopped you from getting three in a row!  A deal's a deal!"

And with that, Pesco smiled a winning smile and nodded.  "You're absolutely right.  A deal is a deal.  So, do you want to have a few hours to pack up everything you'll be taking with you now, or do you just want to sign over your whole booth to me?"

"WHAT?"  Sibilo exclaimed angrily.  "You said that if you got three in a row, you would win.  You didn't get three in a row.  You lose!"

"Well, if you had paid attention to my rules, you'd know that you lose!"  Pesco said.  "Don't you remember?  I said that if nobody had three in a row by the end of the game, the person with the most squares of their colour on the board would automatically win.  I have five tacks of my colour, while you only have four.  Therefore.  I win."

And the look on Sibilo's face said it all as he descended into madness...a permanent facial tic developed on his face as he went into a rage, realizing that he had been tricked.  He kicked his stand with his foot so hard that his toe began to swell, and he threw a tantrum so loud that the entire village watched in glee.

Soon after, the tacks he used to make the rope and tack game soon became the Piazza's most played game.  The game that left Sibilo's face with a permanent facial tic, and caused Sibilo's toe to become broken.  Is it any wonder that the game was renamed "Tic-Tac-Toe"?

As for Pesco, he happily returned all of the belongings that were taken by Sibilo to its rightful owners, and the villagers repaid Pesco by making him the head trader of the Piazza del Mercato Burla, allowing Pesco to take care of his family for the rest of his life.  He even had his own day to honour his legacy, and ever since, the first of April has forever been known as Pesco d'Aprile Day in Italy and its surrounding nations.   I bet you didn't know that.

So, to all of you out there, I just wanted to wish all of you a happy Pesco d'Aprile Day.

Loosely translated to English, meaning...

Yes, this whole story was a fabrication.  A cleverly disguised April Fools Day joke in the form of a Tuesday Timeline.  But rest assured it was all in good fun.

I mean, if you flip the year of the Timeline upside down, you get LOL!  That should have been a clue for you all.  

And, I've got a confession for you.  I've hidden two more April Fools Day gags within this blog in addition to the main joke.  Can you find them?

I'll reveal the answers at a later date...

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