I’ve been in on a few pranks during my lifetime. Sometimes I was the prankster and at other times I’ve been the prankee. I’ve generally enjoyed one role about as much as the other.
Almost every community has a highly regarded prankster, one who has a knack for mischief but also understands that the best pranks are fun for both sides. Mr. Frank Giles is legendary around Unadilla for the many pranks he has played. Gene Deloach is the longtime champion of Third District. Bubba Collins covers a big section in the Vidalia area.
Larry Walker and Foster Rhodes are two of the premiere pranksters based in Houston County. They often work together and even bring in supporting cast members if needed. But one of the best stories I’ve heard is about a solo effort by Foster. It was a venture too risky to include anyone else. Not even Larry or Foster’s wife knew what he was up to.
Riley Hunt is a good friend of both Foster and Larry. Years ago, he bought a vacant residential lot on a dirt road on the outskirts of Perry. Other homes were already there or expected to be built soon. There was little doubt the road would be paved in the not too distant future.
Larry was a highly respected member of the Georgia House of Representatives. He had considerable influence in state and local government. Riley asked Larry to help get the road paved as he and his wife, Sandra, were about to start construction on their home. Mr. Tom Moreland, who was head of the Georgia Department of Transportation, agreed to come take a look. On the day that he came it had been raining and the road was almost too slick to navigate. He and Larry were sliding from one side to the other. Mr. Moreland told Larry that the state would make paving the road a priority.
Riley’s new house was in the early stages of construction when he and Sandra took a weekend trip to the beach. Inspired by their absence, Foster Rhodes went to the discard pile at Tolleson Lumber Company. He sawed scrap lumber into stakes then wrote RW in black magic marker on each piece along with random numbers. It looked convincingly like the right of way markers used by the Department of Transportation. On Saturday night Foster took his pickup load of stakes and a big hammer and went to the lot. He began at one neighbor’s property line and went all the way to the other placing those stakes about 25 feet apart.
Instead of following the sharp curve in the road, Foster straightened it out. He placed stakes within a few feet of where Riley and Sandra’s front door would be. Their spacious yard looked as if it would soon be covered with asphalt. Their future mailbox would be reachable from the steps.
When Riley and Sandra got home late that Sunday it was quite a shocker. Sandra was crying as Riley began frantically making phone calls. He contacted Larry and everyone else that had any possible connection to the D.O.T. The local D.O.T. representative came out. He was baffled by the confusing numbers and wondered why the stakes were placed so differently than he had understood.
I’m not sure how Riley and Sandra learned who the culprit was. There’s one thing, however, that I am sure of. I understand now why Larry and Foster stay in touch with each other and are regular fishing partners. No one in their circle of close friends is safe from the others. They almost have to keep a watchful eye on one another.
To all of you pranksters in the audience, Foster Rhodes has set the bar mighty high. If you have a good story that both sides laughed about when it was over, I would love to hear it. If your prank makes it into the column, you’ll be eligible for nomination to the Georgia Pranksters Hall of Fame. A small nomination fee of $29.95 includes a personalized certificate that is almost suitable for framing.
And to my fellow prankees, thanks for being good sports in tolerating a little friendly mischief. There’s no documented cure for Prankster’s Syndrome, but laughter is a proven remedy for helping overcome Acute Prankitis. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” When good medicine is free we should take a big dose and keep smiling. Besides, the bigger we smile the more those pranksters will wonder what we’re up to.