It sounds like the opening line for a joke. A policeman, an owl, and a cow went out one night. However, while not funny, it is certainly odd.
Bedford Police Officer James Young was station near the corner of Pitt and Julianna streets in the town one early morning in April 1950. Around 2 a.m., he watched a large owl dive out of the night school and crash into the window of Murdock’s Jewelry and Gift Shop.
The store had been around since 1910 when J. F. Murdock took over the J. W. Ridenour dtore. “His gifts are especially well known for their unique and pleasing qualities,” the Bedford Gazette said of Murdock’s.
As Young watched the large owl flopping around groggily on the sidewalk, “It occurred to Officer Young that owls are birds of prey with a bounty on their heads,” the Cumberland Evening Times reported.
He started across the street with the intent of subduing the owl and turning it in for its bounty. Before he could reach it, the owl recovered and took to the air. It flew across Julianna Street and landed on top of the scales in front of Murphy’s Store.
“Unsheathing his night stick, Officer Young slowly approached, shining his flashlight in the bird’s eyes to hold its attention,” the Cumberland Evening Times reported.
A quick hit with the night stick brought the bird down. Young stretched out the owl’s wings and guessed the wingspan was at least four feet wide.
Because of the size of the owl, Young tried to get help from a nearby taxi driver to help him load the owl into his vehicle.
“But as he and an assistant started to return they saw the durable bird prop itself up, heave into the air and make off in the direction of the Monument,” the Cumberland Evening Times reported.
And that was the last that Officer Young saw of the owl, but the cow’s story was just beginning. It came ambling down West Pitt Street from the direction of the Ford Garage. Officer Young saw it and went to try and lead it somewhere, of course, he wasn’t sure where that “somewhere” would be. The cow, for its part, had its own ideas of where it wanted to go and it resisted Young’s efforts to move it in a different direction.
At times, it was uncertain as to who was leading whom, but Young finally managed to push the cow into a fenced in yard and closed the gate behind it.
Young was wondering what to do with a cow when the police call sounded. He answered it and the dispatcher told him that a trucker had passed through Bedford carrying seven cows in his trailer. Upon reaching his destination, the trucker discovered he only had six cows. Young looked over at his captured cow and assumed that it must have fallen off somewhere along the journey without being injured.
It was nearly sunrise by the time he managed to return the stray cow to the grateful trucker.
“His owl-bounty had flown away and he was weary from his tussle with both bird and beast. ‘But,’ he said, as he related the story later, ‘at least it was an unusual night,’” the Cumberland Evening Times reported.