Sometime during the 16th century, Pope Gregory XIII, head of the Western Christian Church (now referred to as the Roman Catholic Church), instituted a new calendar, called the Gregorian Calendar, which is followed today. The Eastern Orthodox world continued to follow the calendar of Julius Caesar, the Julian Calendar. To this day, a select few Orthodox groups, including Serbs, continue to follow the Julian Calendar for our religious/church life and cycle of holidays, like “Serbian Christmas”, which falls on January 7th on the Gregorian Calendar. Apparently, this shift of calendars is responsible for what we now know as April Fool’s Day. (For more on this check out www.april-fools.us/history-april-fools.htm)
Deda (grandpa) Dusan photographed above entertaining his guests around Baba’s table, was a notorious April Fool’s prankster. He most likely was unaware of it’s roots, but simply saw this as a whimsical American phenomenon that appealed to him much like the game of baseball. This was one of the beautiful dichotomies of our grandfather. He was serious and resolute, brave and stoic, but was also the life of the party, beloved by all who knew him. There is one particularly amusing story about how far he would go to successfully fool someone. One April Fool’s Day in the late 1950’s, he made one of our Kumas (godmother) get dressed up and race across the street, because a very prominent woman in the community was in failing health and they were going to go visit her at her lakefront home on Miller Beach. Kuma left her Monday morning wash, climbed up the three flights of stairs to her apartment then got dressed in her best Marshall Field’s (beloved department store) tailored suit. It was no small task to dress up in those days, when for an average outing a woman wouldn’t think of leaving her home without dressing to the nines, which included her gloves, hat, high heels, suit and handbag.
Imagine her surprise when Baba Rada emerged from the laundry room in a house dress and slippers and Deda Dusan sat laughing hysterically, cigarette in hand at Baba’s Table. Kuma soon found that she was the target of another one of Deda Dusan’s notorious April fool’s pranks or the “poisson d’avril” as they say in France, and that Gospodja (Mrs.) D was alive and well and not expecting her for so much as a visit. Let’s just say Kuma was not amused considering she had frantically left her wash and had instead herself been put through the ringer.