Letters to My Granddaughter, No. 78

By | June 11, 2024

[June 11, 2024]  Being a prankster is like being a comedian.  Both are working hard for a good laugh.  But, the prankster is more devious because any successful prankster must be anonymous.   And, yes, there was a brief time I wanted to be a standup comic, too.  Growing up, I was a bit of a prankster and, on occasion, a comedian.  I was not sure which one to be.  A few times, I pulled off a few pranks at school and practical jokes on my cousins.

At this point, you may want to ask if I ever got into trouble for being a prankster.  The short answer is yes, but I didn’t get into serious trouble.   Perhaps my pranks were lame, feeble, flat, or had a low intellectual form of humor.  Yes, that saved me, too, so no one, or very few, took notice.  Or that no one was injured or property damaged, which is an important goal of a prankster.

At the time, I did think my pranks were funny.  Which, of course, showed my lack of a good understanding of humor or even knowledge of my potential audience.  This is the reason so many pranks go wrong.  Perhaps I was lucky.  Here are a few I still laugh about all these decades later.  That doesn’t mean they aren’t corny.

One day, my prank was to throw an old stuffed teddy bear into the main street that ran alongside the house.  There were no traffic lights, so the cars were moving fast.  I wanted to see if I could get drivers to slam on their brakes and swerve to miss the toy bear.  The prank worked pretty well up to a point.  A hot-tempered young man didn’t think it was so funny and stopped his car and promised to do me harm.

My favorite but less risky prank was when I was maybe eight or nine, and I carefully planned to scare my cousins.  I waited for them to gather at the bottom of our grandparent’s main stairway.  We believed that ghosts occupied the upstairs.  Those upstairs were dark and no longer used, but we liked to hang out there.  At just the right moment, I’d walk down those dark and creepy stairs like the monster Frankenstein, moaning loudly, with my arms outstretched to make it appear I would grab someone.  The shrieking of my cousins was roll-on-the-floor funny.  I laughed so hard it hurt.  Except that somebody ratted me out to my Mom, and I got a swift slap on the butt for scaring everybody.  It was well worth it.

In the fifth grade, my best friend Randy and I figured we’d pull a prank on some girls.  We could get a good laugh by hiding rubber snakes in their school desks.  Why not?  Carefully, one day before class, we entered our classroom to place the fake snakes inside their desks.  Now, to wait for the big moment.  I nearly fell out of my chair when one of the girls freaked out and started yelling about a “poisonous snake.”  I put the rubber snake there, but her hysterics nearly convinced me the snake was real; her panic made it seem so.  Big laugh for us all, most of us anyway.

There was a time when paper magazines were popular, and you could sign up for one free copy of the upcoming edition.  It seems there is always a jerk in every class.  It was easy to get even with the boy jerks.  We signed them up for girlie magazines about weddings, women’s lingerie, dating, and feminine hygiene products.  The trick was to have the magazines delivered to the school and to get the school secretary in on the prank.  She would announce over the intercom that Bob the Jerk would go to the office to pick up his “women’s magazines.”  We tried without success not to laugh out loud.

Or there was when I talked my cousin Cleve into eating a huge number of raw pecans.  There were plenty to pick up, with four colossal pecan trees in Bigmama’s yard.  I convinced him that the more he ate, the faster he would grow up.  He was always short for his age, so I knew the trick would work.  He started eating the pecans as fast as he could crack them open.  Of course, he ate so many that he projectile-vomited all over his room.  Then he said, “Looks like I’m going to need more pecans.”  That was so funny I nearly peed my pants.  And he was always a think-later kid, so pranks always worked on him.

And I pulled off some small-time classics like tapping a “kick me” sign on a friend’s back while at school, putting red food color dye up into the kitchen sink faucet and scaring Mom, who thought it was blood when he was asleep, putting my brother’s hand in warm water that would make him wet the bed, putting shaving cream in my brother’s shoes, freezing a fake fly in the ice cube tray, short sheeting my sister’s bed, placing sugar in salt shaker, eating the white icing out of the center of an Oreo cookie, and putting a Whoopi cushion in my Dad’s dinner chair.  Ah, such fun.

Was there a little devil sitting on my shoulder telling me to do this prank?  Or was it just me being a little boy seeking a good laugh?  I’m not sure I can answer that question, even if I’m inclined to think the latter.  Being a prankster was my way of leaving my mark without anyone knowing who was involved.

These pranks were my way to be the comedian I wanted to be but never was.


NOTE: See all my letters here: https://www.theleadermaker.com/granddaughter-letters/


Please read my books:

  1. “55 Rules for a Good Life,” on Amazon (link here).
  2. “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

25 thoughts on “Letters to My Granddaughter, No. 78

  1. Rev. Michael Cain

    Gen. Doug, another great article and a surprise for us all. Who would have known that you were originally a prankster. I took you as much more serious, although I do have to admit you said your grades were not up to what they should have been. I can just imagine you pulling a prank on your cousins. 😊

  2. Pastor John 🙏

    I’ll never forget these letters and, like others, I hope that Gen. Satterfield publishes them into a book and so that many others too can read about his experiences. But it is not these events that he writes about that is the point, at least for me, that is not the point. What we can find in these shared experiences during the 50s and 60s, is that the boy become an Army General after growing up in an isolated part of Louisiana while poor. Now, I know that he claimed to be “rich” by family standards an certainly he was compared to the real poor – who had no doors or windows in their houses – but I think most of us would agree that his upbringing lacked a lot from an educational perspective and “picking cotton” is not a sure way to riches. While we read these letters, remember that there is a spark there in his mind that he wanted to be someone who does something important in his life and is aiming up at a noble cause. That noble cause, joing the Army, is what propelled him to greater things. Thank you, Gen. Satterfield for sharing your childhood stories and I know that your granddaughter will enjoy these letters too.

  3. Melo in Chicgo

    Yes, pranks are funny and brutal. A well-structured prank can definitely shock people but at the end of the day, it is going to be the thought that someone took out time and put in the effort to prank someone specific. Years from now, the reason why you pranked someone might be forgotten but the tag of “being pranked” always stays with people for a very long time. It is very true to say that pranking someone makes them feel valued and special even if it is embarrassing and a little awkward in the start.

    1. Lou Schmerconish

      Well said, Melo. Pranks do serve a purpose and let us not forget that.

  4. Janna Faulkner

    A loving letter. thank you Gen. Satterfield for sharing.

  5. Joe Omerrod

    “And I pulled off some small-time classics like tapping a “kick me” sign on a friend’s back while at school, putting red food color dye up into the kitchen sink faucet and scaring Mom, who thought it was blood when he was asleep, putting my brother’s hand in warm water that would make him wet the bed, putting shaving cream in my brother’s shoes, freezing a fake fly in the ice cube tray, short sheeting my sister’s bed, placing sugar in salt shaker, eating the white icing out of the center of an Oreo cookie, and putting a Whoopi cushion in my Dad’s dinner chair. Ah, such fun.” – Gen. Doug Satterfield …. such a simple prankster.

    1. ashley

      If you’re a kid and never pulled off these simple pranks, then you are missing out on life. This is one of the ways that children learn the limits of adults and other kids, and what makes them laugh or not. Pranks serve a function about learning and Gen. S. has done some real learning here with these pranks.

  6. Harry Donner

    Some learning experiences, that is what Gen. Satterfield is telling us about, not just him having a good time.

  7. Willie Strumburger

    For those new to Gen. Satterfield’s letters to his granddaughter, and I know there are many, it is best IMHO to read them from the beginning. You will be able to see the development of the little boy and how he starts off life in a poor and rural part of Northeast Louisiana, and then at one point starts moving around to Arkansas and Texas. His dad worked on the railroad (I can’t remember which one) and that exposed that boy to many new cultures and adventures that would never been even in his imagination. I’ve put the link to all his letters here: https://www.theleadermaker.com/granddaughter-letters/ Go to the bottom and start reading up. You will be able to appreciate them more that way.

    1. Eye Cat

      Willie, good suggestion. I’ve already caught up and enjoy each time a new letter is published. And it is impossible for me to figure out what will be next. each is a big surprise.

  8. Xerces II

    Got to agree with the others that this is one of my favorite letters to Gen. Satterfield’s granddaughter. 👍👍👍👍👍

    1. KRause

      Xerces II, it is hard for me to say which of these “letters to my granddaughter” that I like the best. Each stands alone on its own to tell a story “that needs telling” and gives us insight into the mind – or devious mind – of the boy that grew up to be an army general. Like others have noted below, I hope that Gen. S. keeps on writing these after the 100th letter and that he publishes them in a book. Now that would be something to really jump onto and read to my kids. And tell them that we all should remember our past, as it affects our futures.

      1. Nick Lighthouse

        KRause and Xerces II, good comments and good look at what these letters really tell us. There are stories in each that show that a little boy can learn and grow and yet be part of his own education.

  9. Joey Holmes

    This is why I never miss a day logging onto my computer and going straight to his website.

  10. Lady Hawk

    #78. We are approaching #100 pretty darn fast now. I know that Gen. Satterfield committed to writing 100 letters to his granddaughter and that would be it. Let us all try to convince him that we would love to see more than that. Just 100, only about a year and a half of letters certainly is NOT enough. Keep writing them and we will keep reading them.

  11. Steve Dade

    I’m surprised by reading this one, a bit of a “prankster” that Gen. Satterfield as a boy was. That is no surprise! Well, not quite.

    1. Liz at Home

      Steve, I found Gen. S’s letter enlightening as well into his personality.

    2. catorenasci

      The “prankster” now that is one thing I just could completely imagine and I’m certainly surprised that he hasn’t already written about these. We got a glimpse of his proclivity to pull tricks on others in some of the other letters to his granddaughter but this letter lays it out in detail. Great job, Gen. Satterfield, please keep on a writtin’.

        1. Qassim

          Great stories on steroids.

      1. Bill Sanders, Jr.

        Pranks help us understand other people better. It pushes our limits and makes us laugh, if done properly.


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