Past Times at St. Cloud State University

Monday, October 11, 2004

Director of Special Services Stan Sahlstrom and President George Budd, riding here in the 1958 homecoming parade, borded the horses involved in the Shoemaker Hall horse-in-the-elevator caper side by side on campus. They do look alike, don't they?

From anecdotes regaling silly college pranks to preposterous urban legends, favorite tales of SCSU’s past have become part of our tradition. The stories – repeated for laughs or whispered behind closed doors – mingle with our other fond memories of campus and color them with fun and mystery. With this “President’s-horse-in the-elevator” tale, we begin a new feature of Outlook, highlighting stories of campus life.

One autumn night in 1961, eight male students attempted to prod what they thought was President George Budd’s horse into the Shoemaker Hall elevator. When the animal balked and refused to ride, the pranksters hid him in a first-floor lavatory.

Sound preposterous? Not so, according to Henry Coppock, then a freshman resident of Shoemaker, who innocently stumbled onto the prank. “I walked into the bathroom across the hall from my room and found a horse in the shower stall,” he said.

“I went to the main desk and told them,” said Coppock, who later became a geography professor at SCSU, retiring in 1999. “The person there looked at me as though I was nuts. So I went back to my room and didn’t say any more.”

In reality, the unwitting four-hoofed participant in this famous prank did not belong to President Budd, who often rode his horse in parades and other public events.

“They were after George’s horse,” said Stan Sahlstrom, who was Budd’s director of special services at the time of the caper, “but instead they got my pony. He was boarded right next to the president’s horse.” Sahlstrom, who went on to become the first chancellor for the University of Minnesota’s Crookston campus, kept his promise to keep their identity a secret.

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