August 1976 — Farm smells permeate the air, mud-coated pigs bathe in the sun, cattle graze in pastures and once in a while find their way around barbed-wire farm fencing. Acres of soybeans and cornfields line the highway and back roads. Allis-Chalmers and John Deere tractors sit idle in barnyards waiting for the harvest. Four-wheel drive pickup trucks rule the roads. High school sweethearts of all ages snuggle side-by-side on bench seats framed by gun racks in rear windows.
This small rural village known for its 4-H clubs and county fairs is a tight-knit farming community where people work together, support one another, and as is often the case, know one another’s business better than they know their own.
Details about Friday night’s football game, FFA competitions, and the Young Republicans grace the headlines of the local paper. It is a community where boys with lawnmowers and snow shovels knock on neighbors’ doors hoping to earn a few extra dollars, where cheerleaders in pleated skirts and saddle shoes teach customers how to use the new wind tunnel style of banking, where progress is slow, and no one is in a hurry. It is a community where ranks close quickly to protect one of its own.
It is early spring. The seniors are restless. Their days are numbered; final exams are just around the corner. Freedom is in sight. But deep down, they are nervous. What if they’re forgotten? What if life goes on without them and no one remembers? What if they make certain that no one forgets?
May 1977. It is a day that will live in infamy. It is the day the Class of 1977 will leave its mark, its legacy — one that will be talked about for decades to come.
Lights and sirens greet school buses as they enter the parking lot. Sheriff’s cruisers and armed deputies surround the schoolyard making sure students keep their distance: they are guarding a crime scene.
Students gather in clusters almost in awe of what they see. Girls giggle. Boys stand with hands shoved in Levi’s pockets shaking their heads in disbelief. This is a feat like no other. Word spreads quickly.
The principal begins the morning announcements singing, “Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam.” Deputies question classmates, bound and determined to find out who is responsible. But, no one says a word. Ranks close quickly, and no one remembers seeing a thing.
It had taken just over four hours. Pickups manned with CB radios on alert guarded the escape route, the journey complete only after the air was let out of every tire.
There would be no quick trip back to the pasture for this dairy cow — it’s over 18 feet tall, and she would graze in the front yard of Blanchester High School until early evening when she was hulled back to her United Dairy parking lot.
It’s been almost 40 years since the UDF dairy cow found her way to the pasture in front of Blanchester High School, and yet the masterminds behind this legendary senior prank have remained a mystery. While some may claim to know, and perhaps even falsely claim to have actually participated, as of this publication the identity of those masterminds — long admired by their friends, classmates, and even teachers — remains a mystery.
And they plan to keep it that way.
Diana Miller is the president of the Blanchester High School Alumni Association and a proud graduate of the BHS Class of 1980.