The Montana State yearbook prank

The Montana State yearbook prank
Clarence Mjork, an outstanding student

The pranks that live on as legends are ones that require planning, a sense of humor, and brilliant execution.

In 1933, when students opened copies of their college yearbook at Montana State University, they saw that something was not quite right.

Dave Rivenes was the yearbook editor, and he’d been planning his prank before he went to college. Nobody knew what he was going to do except a few close friends. He graduated a year later than planned because he spent so much time on it.

The prank wasn’t discovered until all the books had been printed:

Sorority women might have been pleased to read that "all the popular girls on campus are members of this sorority," but every sorority was described the same way. Readers saw the Exponent staff listed as if they were cast members of "Uncle Tom’s Cabin," playing slaves, Simon Legree, blood hounds, cakes of ice and back stage noises. Text from "The Rover Boys Go to College," a series of popular children’s books of the time, ran throughout the yearbook, describing the fictional adventures of Dick, Tom and Sam instead of the real experiences of MSC students.

Finally on page 55, readers began seeing Mjork. In real life, he was Rider in disguise.

Once he began showing up, Mjork appeared in almost every photo in the activities section. He laid across laps, held women on his lap, draped his arm over shoulders, peered between heads and hung from a lamp. In one photo, he held a giant fish. Another time, as Col. Mjork, he peered down the barrel of a gun. On one page, he appeared eight times, with each photo supposedly showing a different Clarence Mjork, all from Endgate, Mont., but unrelated.

The yearbook that included real-life faculty members who went on to have MSU buildings named after them–men like Cobleigh, Gaines and Linfield–listed Mjork as the campus playboy, escort to the campus queen, senior class adviser, junior class adviser, sophomore class adviser and freshman class adviser. He was the printer’s devil and editor-in-chief of the yearbook, as well as its proofreader, military editor, power behind the throne, shadow, and friend to the editor. He supposedly worked for the student newspaper as sports editor, managing editor, society editor, business manager, circulation manager and proofreader. He apparently belonged to more than 25 clubs.

The yearbook won various awards, including "most original" of the year.

The Montana State yearbook prank
David Rivenes, the trickster, 
in later years.

Read more: The long, unlikely life of Clarence Mjork, Montana State University Magazine>>

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