Alarm Clock Locker Prank
This prank goes back to the 1960's and was used in a high school New York state where the interior corridors were lined with student's lockers. Alarm clocks were set to ring during class and placed in lockers. The clocks would ring, disturbing the nearby classes. This prank became such a large fad in that high school that the school administrators stationed themselves in the hallways, waited for alarm clocks to ring, and then raced to the area where the ringing was heard. Then, they opened lockers with their master keys and searched for clocks. Most of the time, the administrators found and confiscated the clocks while they were still ringing, and punished the students assigned to those lockers.

In the 1960's, wind up alarm clocks were commonplace and used for the prank. The clocks had two wind up knobs, one for the timekeeping and one for the bell. One particular prankster would prepare the clock at home. He would let the bell ring until it stopped. Then, he would wind that spring a small amount and experiment with how long the bell rang. With the spring wound a precise fraction of a turn, the bell could be set to ring 20 to 30 seconds. This was enough time to disturb the class, but not enough time for a teacher or school administrator to run out and locate the locker where the sound was coming from. The clock was well hidden so the school administrators didn't find it when they conducted a locker by locker search in the area where the sound came from. Part of the fun for the prankster was sitting in class, listening to locker doors opening and closing as the administrators frantically searched. Soon afterward, it was time to go to the next class, the corridors flooded with students, many of them opening lockers, and the prankster retrieved his alarm clock, which was concealed in a paper bag, hid it in his book bag, and took it with him so the school administrators wouldn't find it if they resumed their search during the next class period.

The prankster only placed the alarm clock in his own locker and set it to ring during the one class period when he was sitting in a class near his locker. If the school administrators had found the clock, the prankster would have been punished. If the prankster had been able to open other students' lockers, he would have been able to plant the alarm clock in those lockers, disturbing classes in other parts of the building and possible running less risk of being caught and punished. The prankster would have had to be careful not to get caught placing the clock and, if the prankster chose to retrieve his clock, retrieving it later. For faster retrieval, the prankster could have dialed the first 2 numbers of the combination after closing the locker. Then, the prankster would only have to dial the third number to open the lock, speeding up the process of opening the locker. Also, the prankster would have needed to be careful to ensure that the student assigned the locker didn't find the clock before it rang. One way would have been to select the locker of a student who was not in school on the day of the prank.

Today, wind up alarm clocks are still manufactured and sold, but are far less common than the electronic, battery powered alarm clocks, which wouldn't be as suitable for the prank. We checked the alarm clocks on the shelves of one store in a well known drug store chain, and found both electronic and wind up alarm clocks.The wind up clocks sold for $10-15. Used clocks from a second hand store should cost less. The best clock for this prank would be one that ticked very quietly or not at all, and had a loud bell. The package for one of the wind up clocks said it had a loud bell.

The school administrators might be able to locate the wind up clock after it stopped ringing by listening for ticking. The ticking can be quieted by placing the clock in the bottom of the locker and setting it on a piece of felt or other soft material.

Another trick would have been to place a nonworking alarm clock in plain view, so the administrators would grab it without checking for a second clock. When called to the office, the student would tell the administrators that the clock was nonworking, and, without touching the clock, challenge them to make it work. The school administrators would be hard pressed to find a school rule prohibiting storing a nonworking clock in a locker. In the 1960's prank, one student did avoid punishment this way.

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