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It started as a nighttime dare

That was 58 coats of paint ago - here's how it began


It started as a nighttime dare...resulting, perhaps in an arrest by Bluffton PD. Who started this crazy BHS senior tradition? The answer is below.

Tom Bell, member of the Bluffton High School class of 1965, wrote this story on how street painting in front of Bluffton High School first began. This story is included in the book, “A Good Place To Miss – Bluffton Stories 1900-1975.” Copies are available at the Bluffton Senior Citizens Center.


By Tom Bell

Ron “Gridley” Steiner actually masterminded the entire deployment. He recruited an unlikely group of artists to carry out his plan. Dick Herr, Larry Moser and I were selected for no obvious rhyme or reason.


We borrowed paint from our parents and mixed it all together. Barn white, porch gray and clothesline pole silver did the trick.


Security, or not getting caught, was a major concern. We knew that Carter Shisler of the police department would be on patrol. We also knew that he would cruise past the high school and use Maple Grove Cemetery as his turn around. We considered locking him in the cemetery, but since Wade Bechtel had experienced that, the police had been alternating the gates they entered.


Finally, after several creative plans were scuttled, it was decided that Larry Moser would be the lookout. He was to hide behind the ivy growing on the school.


The lettering plan was simple: we were to paint “Seniors Rule 65” in three-foot letters to be clearly visible from the principal’s office, with our initials around it. With paint pans, rollers and paint at the ready, we went to work. Each person was assigned certain letters.


All of a sudden I realized that Larry was standing on a Dutch Elm sump at Main and College clapping his hands.


Just then the cruiser slowly went through the intersection south bound on Main. We were in the middle of College Avenue with roller in hand.


We dodged a bullet, almost literally. Later, when we asked Larry why he changed the warning Method, he merely said, “Mouth went dry, couldn’t whistle.”


As we finished the inaugural event, Tom Bogart pulled up in his Buick Gran Sport and underlined our masterpiece with two beautiful black lines.


Well, there you have it. I probably should be sorry for revealing my cohorts. However, in this case, the statute of limitations hasn’t expired. I can’t imagine a better place than Bluffton to perform community service.


In case you wonder who the model is in our graphic at the top of this story, here's the real photo. It's Bluffton teacher and football coach, Jeff Richards, caught in the act in 2004.




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And it was the class of '98 that worked to make it a legal, safe option to continue the tradition in the daylight.

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