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What’s with the Cow on the Roof of that Store?

For more than 25 years, Bowen’s plastic bovine has been great advertising.

Is it a cow? A bull? A steer?Whatever, the life-size brown and white bovine perched atop Bowen’s Grocery in Huntingtown is a community fixture. And a handy navigational aide: Turn right at the store with the cow on the roof.

Long-time locals, accustomed to the roof adornment, barely give it a passing glance. But newcomers and passers-by want to know What’s with the cow?

So Bay Weekly asked owner Gordon Bowen to explain.

“We were visiting my daughter while she was at college in California. It was 1985. While we were there, we drove past a meat market that had this bull on its roof. I thought it’d look good on our store, so I asked the owner where he got it. He gave me the name of the manufacturer. When I got home, I called and ordered one. It’s been on the roof of our store since.”

Well, that’s not quite true.

The bull — yes, Bowen says it is a bull — went missing one morning in 1995. The night before, under the cover of darkness, the icon had been bull-napped.

With nary a clue found at the scene of the crime, Bowen figured his bull was gone for good.

Thirteen months later, he learned different in a phone call from Bishop McNamara School in Forestville, some 27 miles away. The bull had suddenly resurfaced — at the school.

“I got in my pick-up, drove to Forestville and got my bull back,” Bowen says. “It was pretty dirty.” But intact.

The incident remained a mystery until a chance encounter on a sports field.

“Years later I met a man at my grandson’s ballgame,” Bowen says. “He asked me if I had hard feelings about the stolen bull. When I told him no, he admitted that he was one of the four college pranksters who stole it. He told me after they got it off of the roof, they tied it to the top of a station wagon. They drove almost all the way to D.C. with that bull tied on top of the car.”

The bull had been stashed in a barn until, for still unknown reasons, it was left at Bishop McNamara High School.

That bull isn’t going anywhere again.

“It’s bolted down, and there are alarms on it.”

Those alarms work, too.

“Not long ago, a couple of kids were tossing around a football in the parking lot after hours,” Bowen says. “They threw the ball up on the roof, and when they got up there to get it, the alarms went off. The cops came.”

Is a plastic bovine worth all the trouble?

“Heck yeah,” Bowen says. “It’s the best advertising piece I’ve ever had.”

And that’s no bull.

Bowen’s Grocery is located on the corner of Rts. 521 and 524, just off Rt. 4, in Huntingtown. It’s the store with the bull on the roof. M-F 6am-9pm, SaSu 7am-9pm; 410-535-1304 or 410-257-2222

What are you’re wondering about? Send your questions to Diana Beechener at diana@bayweekly.com.