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35 Years Ago

from The Greenfield Recorder 190th year – no. 290, p. 1; December 10, 1982.

Meadow Messages
Students spell mischief with bales of hay
By Richie Davis
Recorder Staff

NORTHFIELD - What’s a graffiti writer to do in “the sticks,” where subway cars are scarcer than hen’s teeth?
The answer is “rural graffiti,” in which hay is more than for horses.
For the past week or so, someone’s been stealing into Frank Podlenski’s field off Route 10 and rearranging the hay bales into messages for passing motorists.
Some of the words have four letters, and Northfield police have been trying to keep one step ahead of the country-style vandals. That means, walking down the bank to change the bad words,” which are clearly visible to traffic up on Route 10. Northfield police don’t push the hay into new configurations, though, said officer Eugene Miller.
“I’m not that ambitious,” he said.
Nathan Stewart, who edits Northfield Mount Hermon School’s newspaper, The Bridge, said the hay games began between Pioneer Valley Regional School students and what appeared to be a rival team.
NMH students – who can see the hay from the shuttle buses that carry them between the school’s two campuses – got involved in the creative hay shuffling last weekend, writing a commentary on a disciplinary problem at school.
Someone, explained Stewart, had walked off with some keys from campus security, and school officials warned there would be curfew for everyone if they weren’t returned.
“KEYS?” the haystacks read.
Sunday, after the key culprit was found, the stacks were changed to “GOTCHA.”
Early this week someone rearranged the hay into an advertisement for a Springfield radio station: “WAAF 107.”
And Thursday, a few Bridge staff members gave their newspaper a plug, “The Bridge.”
“It’s just fun and games,” said Stewart.
Frank Podlenski, who owns the Bennett Meadow property that borders on the Connecticut River, says he isn’t at all upset by the pranks.
“It doesn’t bother me a bit,” he says. “If someone wants to have fun – as long as they’re not doing me any damage – God bless ‘em.”

Ed. note: This story was picked up by the Associated Press and appeared in newspapers from as far away as Albuquerque, NM and Miami, FL.