Paris came under intense scrutiny last night by French and foreign reporters who forgot international politics and other forms of news when rumors spread that somewhere in the city a woman had given birth to seven babies or pregnant women. At midnight the frantic search was still going on, but no such fertile woman had been found.
The hunt for the woman began after news agencies and newspaper correspondents began taking questions which simply stated that the American Telegraph had reported multiple births. No address or name was given, but the package came out. Hospitals were searched and police were asked if they had any such reports.
At Hotel Dieu, the grand maternity hospital near Notre-Dame Cathedral, they said nothing like that had happened there, but that they had had about twenty questions on the subject.
Representatives of the French Ministry of Information were also trying to track down the rumors. Somehow the address of a building on Rue Galande was mentioned and twenty journalists occupied the place and walked through the building knocking on the doors and asking if anyone had had seven babies there. Still unlucky.
Only at night was it discovered that the hunt had begun as a result of a practical joke. A group of his colleagues edited the story and told it to a French police reporter. He fell for it, hooks and sinker and very soon the thing was out of control.
The International Herald Tribune, 21 February 1946.
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