Walrus in Central Park Zoo Speaks by
(34 Stories)

Prompted By Newspapers

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During freshman year, my roommate had the Sunday New York Times delivered to our door in Thayer North.  One Sunday in early March, I picked the paper up from in front of the door and was shocked to read that the Parthenon had collapsed because of an earthquake.  Also, in large type, was the news that Castro had seized the US Naval Base at Guantanamo.  There were several other interesting stories on the front page, but it wasn’t until I got to the bottom left corner and saw the headline “Walrus in Central Park Zoo Speaks”  that I realized something was up.  I might have suspected I had been had if I had looked at the dateline on the page – Thursday, March 7 – but who looks at the dateline first when reading the paper?

I had little knowledge of the works of those people in the Castle on Mount Auburn Street.

As a farm boy from Southeastern Ohio, I had little knowledge of the works of those people in the Castle on Mount Auburn Street.  The Lampoon guys had printed a very authentic-looking New York Times front page and substituted that page in every paper they found in the Yard and in the Houses.

I’m not sure even today what members of our class were Poonies.  Perhaps John Shutkin knows?

Jeff Gerken

Lampoon NYT Page

Profile photo of Jeff Gerken Jeff Gerken

Characterizations: funny, right on!


  1. Khati Hendry says:

    This made me laugh—as I’m sure you did. Was the carpenter also featured, or the oysters? The Poonies pulled a good one.

  2. Marian says:

    This is hilarious, Jeff. Unfortunately with digital news now, people fall for serious misinformation. Bet they might believe in a talking walrus.

  3. Suzy says:

    This is great, Jeff, and you WERE successful in linking to the page, which I have been busily reading from top to bottom. The story that I think is even funnier than the walrus is the one in the lower right corner that says two major highways will now run southbound only, while a skyway for northbound traffic is tentatively scheduled to begin late the next year. So you can drive into the City, but you can never leave!

    My question is this: why would the dateline of March 7 have tipped you off that it was a prank? I would expect it to be April 1. What is the significance of March 7?

  4. John Shutkin says:

    Fun story, Jeff, and I do remember the “Times” issue. I knew/know a few of the Poonies in our class, but not all of them. And have always regretted not being interested in joining — especially since, as I learned later in life, my last name actually means “jokester” in Russian.

    I was not particularly fooled by the “Times.” Growing up as a Yale faculty brat, I used to read the Yale Record — Eli’s Lampoon — a lot in high school and the Record usually did at least one parody a year. And I must admit that I usually found the Record funnier than the Lampoon. In this regard, it should be noted that Gary Trudeau first published “Doonesbury” in the Record. ‘Nuff said.

  5. I joined the Lampoon in spring of freshman year, along with Marty Kaplan and a few others, but I am not sure they had tryouts in the fall, so none of us from the class of ’71 contributed to the publication until the end of the spring or the next fall. What I do remember–but it could have been an apocryphal story–is that a classmate, Nicholas Pilavaki, who was Greek, either from Greece himself or first generation American–was in tears at the picture of the destroyed Parthenon, until someone let him in on the joke.

  6. Betsy Pfau says:

    Good one, Jeff. The Lampoon went on to become the National Lampoon and was the source of much mirth. Love that you had a talking walrus in the Central Park Zoo – so funny!

  7. Laurie Levy says:

    What a great prank. Thanks for today’s good laugh.

  8. Wonderful Jeff!
    Was there an item under FOR SALE about a bridge in Brooklyn?

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