By chance, while browsing for all important cow news, I recently came across an article entitled “Slick Trick Frees $1,000 Cow from Her Silo Prison,” which appeared in the St. Petersburg Times on this day in 1949. The touching, amusing story (carried in several other papers nationally) reads thus:
Yukon, Okla — It took a slick trick–but Grady the cow was freed from her silo prison yesterday. The white-faced Hereford–whose ins and outs of the 40-foot high silo had North America guessing–was liberated with cup grease and the old heave-ho.
At 8:09 a. m., (c.s.t.) the first of hundreds of suggestions to get the bovine damsel in distress was used. The scheme was devised by Ralph Partridge, farm editor of The Denver Post, who flew here to Grady’s assistance after word was flashed over the nation.
It all started when Bill Mach’s $1,000 cow bolted into the silo through a 17 x 25 1/2 in door. It was unbelievable to see the 1400-pound cow quietly munching grass in the circular, concrete silo. The nation learned of Grady’s feat and Mach’s problem.
Hundreds of solutions from 45 states and Canada poured in. Partridge arrived here with what he called his “secret cow freeing device.” It turned out to be the grease, plenty of muscle and the axiom: “If a cow can get through a door into a silo, it can get out of the same door.”
With 40 witnesses braving the chilled, Oklahoma sunrise, the experiment began. Grady was generously rubbed down with grease and put on a greased platform. Her forefeet were put through the opening. The veterinarian, Dr. L. J. Crump, then jabbed Grady with a hypodermic syringe loaded with nembutal. There was a winch truck standing by with a long cable to pull the cow through. But it wasn’t needed. There was a heave-ho on her rump with strong hands and then she rebelled. With one quick jerk, she jumped through the door and lumbered into the barn yard.
The citizens cheered!
The knockout drops, which the vet thought might relax Grady, weren’t needed. Apparently they had no effect.
After Grady was freed, Dr. Crump gave her a thorough examination. Grady would be all right in 10 days and back to her normal milk production. He prescribed plenty of rest and food. She also got a generous bubble bath.
Bill Mach said he was glad it was all over. He couldn’t understand why so many people were interested in his pure bred cow. “Why, we got calls and telegrams and letters. They suggested getting Grady out by using a derrick, and by cutting a hole in the silo, and even by fattening her up and killing her. But I couldn’t do that. She was too valuable.”
What’s in store for Grady? “Well, I believe she’s earned peace and quiet the rest of her life,” Mach said. “She’s had more excitement than most cows.”
I’d like to believe that Grady did live out the rest of her life in peace and quiet. Of course, I’d like to believe that she died in her sleep of old age and is buried in the family cemetery plot, but I’m just sentimental like that. The article evokes that kind of sentimentality, nostalgia of a time when there was a sense of national community, a sense of common brotherhood, a sense of simple wonder at something other than the tawdry, sensationalized melodrama that dominates our modern press. Such a time is, undoubtedly, more a wishful construct of our collective memory, but nevertheless stories like this reenforce that ideal. There’s nothing wrong with that. Whether Grady’s plight and rescue represent a simpler, better time or not, it gives us a simpler, better ideal to cling to and to strive for when the incessant, hateful, pornographic present gets to be too much for us.