Blanchard Hill Gang

Over seventy years ago an incident transpired that involved a greased pig and a future president of Wheaton College. The event was recounted in the April 25, 1980 edition of the Record student newspaper and is transcribed below.

Blanchard Hill Gang caught on pig count
by Bill Gianopulos

April Fools’ morning, you are reading the large black and white poster attached to a tree on the front lawn of Blanchard.

“WANTED: The Blanchard Hill Gang on suspicion of harboring a subversive element. REWARD: The first person to come forward with information as to the identity and whereabouts of these desperados gets to chase the first pig at honors convocation.”

“The offer is irresistible,” you think. After rereading the poster you carefully analyze the attached photograph. “Nothing special,” you think. “Just five men standing around an ugly pig.” You eye the photo again. “That guy looks familiar.” You try to repress the thought. “Is that Dr. Armerding? He’s that close to a pig — and still smiling?” The poster, which still remains a mystery to most Wheaton students portrays five seniors from the class of ’41. Joe Bayly, Senior Sneak Chairman, is on the far left. Next to him stands Al Fesmire, coordinator of the Tower concerts. David Roberts, senior class president, stands behind the pig holding the leash. Hudson Armerding, class treasurer, kneels behind the pig and Jim Pass [kneels] on the far right.

The Blanchard Hill Gang incident of May 1941, climaxed a year of vigorous class competition between juniors and seniors. Back then, everyone knew the seniors by their orange and blue jackets with the “Class of ’41” seal emblazoned over the left pocket. Men and women sported their senior jackets. “That was considered real class, ” Roberts, now assistant to President Armerding said. On Wednesday, May 14, 1941, the junior class sponsored an all-school “Rodeo Round-up, ” with free stage coach rides, lemonade, Western vittles, and a free cowboy whip for every junior. Decked out in bandanas, ten-gallon hats, boots, and chaps the juniors trotted to Pierce [Chapel]’s “chuck wagon” at 7:15 for a ham and egg breakfast. The faculty matched their pie-throwing ability with the student body in the pie-face race at noon. At 4 p.m. the rip-roaring rodeo moved into the spotlight at Lawson Field. Parades, medicine shows, and hog-calling took top billing.

But the greased pig scramble was to climax the day’s events.

The Blanchard Hill Gang, “never outdone by infantile juniors,” did their best to spoil the climax. As Roberts puts it, “We wanted the biggest impact with the least disruption.” On Tuesday, the eve of the rodeo, the Gang frantically searched for the pig. They found it in a faculty member’s garage. One member reached for the door hinge and yanked out the pin securing the door. The wind blew the door open and the pig waddled out and into the street. “We didn’t want the pig run over by a car, ” Roberts says half sarcastically. He remembers the five of them throwing the pig into the back seat of Fesmire’s car and driving to a farm a few miles south of campus. An accomplice snapped the photo which appears on the poster. “After the picture was taken, we boarded out the pig until the next days’ events were over,” Roberts recalls. “The junior class council went to the garage Wednesday morning to grease the pig. But the pig was gone.” Roberts chuckles as he recalls Fesmire’s attempt to deodorize the back seat of this car. “It smelled like a pig farm,” he says. “He washed, hosed, and sunned the seat to get rid of the pig odor but he couldn’t. Fesmire sold the car. “I learned one thing,” says Roberts. “When I saw that poster last week I realized that the evil men do, lives after them.”

What can we learn from this? First, even college presidents were once college students and are not beyond pig pranking. Second, it is obvious that the evolutionary consciousness of pig pranking has become more devious in recent years. In 167 B.C. Antiochus Epiphanes entered Jerusalem and defiled the temple by pouring swine blood on the altar. Last year history almost repeated itself in Edman Chapel at the Spring Honors Convocation.

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