Biography of Famous Practical Joker Hugh Troy Part 1

About the famous American practical joker Hugh Troy, history and biography of the man.

HUGH TROY (1906-1964). Practical joker.

Nothing seemed unusual. In fact, it was a rather common occurrence in New York City. Five men dressed in overalls roped off a section of busy Fifth Avenue in front of the old Rockefeller residence, hung out MEN WORKING signs, and began ripping up the pavement. By the time they stopped for lunch, they had dug quite a hole in the street. This crew was different, however, from all the others that had descended upon the streets of the city. It was led by Hugh Troy--the world's greatest practical joker.

For lunch, Troy led his tired and dirty crew into the dining room of a fashionable Fifth Avenue hotel that was nearby. When the headwaiter protested, Troy took him into his confidence. "It's a little gag the manager wants to put over," he told the waiter. The men ate heartily and seemed not to notice that indignant diners were leaving the premises. After lunch Troy and his men returned to their digging, and by late afternoon they had greatly enlarged the hole in the avenue. When quitting time arrived, they dutifully hung out their red lanterns, left the scene, and never returned. City officials discovered the hoax the next day, but they never learned who the pranksters were.

Hugh Troy was born in Ithaca, N.Y., where his father was a professor at Cornell University. After graduating from Cornell, Troy left for New York City, where he became a successful illustrator of children's books. When W.W. II broke out, he went into the army and eventually became a captain in the 21st Bomber Command, 20th Air Force, under Gen. Curtis LeMay. After the war he made his home in Garrison, N.Y., for a short while before finally settling in Washington, D.C., where he lived until his death.

As a youngster Troy became a friend of the painter Louis Agassiz Fuertes, who encouraged Troy to become an artist and may have encouraged the boy to become a practical joker as well. While Fuertes and Troy were out driving one day, Fuertes saw a JESUS SAVES sign and swiped it. Many a good laugh was had when several days later people saw the sign firmly planted in front of the Ithaca Savings Bank. The boy put up a few signs of his own. Fascinated by the word pinking, he posted a sign in front of his house: PINKING DONE. No one needed pinking done, but curiosity got the best of some, who stopped to ask what pinking was. "It's a trade secret," Troy quipped. The boy was also a member of a skating club, and when he needed some pocket money, he tacked an old cigar box near the entrance of the clubhouse, along with a PLEASE HELP sign. People naturally began dropping change into the box, change which Troy routinely pocketed.

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