View of 423 Main: A fraternity house, a tombstone, a mystery |  Local News

View of 423 Main: A fraternity house, a tombstone, a mystery | Local News

BENNINGTON — This can be a true story that started with a (presumably booze-fueled) pupil prank at Williams Faculty in 1957 and ended — form of — just a few weeks in the past in a historic Bennington cemetery.

At this level, the story ends in thriller, however possibly somebody studying these phrases holds the reply.

That is the place I got here to storytelling.

Tom Giffin, the top of the Vermont Previous Cemetery Affiliation, emailed me final week. He had traveled to Bennington on November 3 to assist with a voluntary clean-up effort after vandals broken greater than 200 previous headstones within the village cemetery on Morgan Avenue. Giffin and I had talked on the time in regards to the in depth injury.

Giffin had parked his automobile on the cemetery that November morning and, after getting out, noticed what gave the impression to be an odd gravestone leaning in opposition to a close-by fence.

“I see bizarre issues in graveyards on a regular basis,” Giffin mentioned, noting that final week he discovered a black guinea pig free in a Rutland graveyard. This stone was “unusual”, he mentioned.

The title mentioned RIP (relaxation in peace), which, outdoors of youngsters’s cartoons, is solely not discovered on tombstones.

4 names had been additionally listed, together with the entry “Misplaced in motion at Bennington, VT 1957-1958”. That too was unusual. There had been no occasions, no floods or different disasters, at the moment, to account for “misplaced in motion”, particularly in Bennington.

“He was misplaced, leaning in opposition to the fence,” Giffin mentioned. “Then there was nothing in it that made sense.”

He took a photograph of the stone and posted it on the Vermont Previous Cemeteries Affiliation’s Fb web page, asking, “Does anybody know the historical past of it?”

Remarkably, a Williams Faculty alumnus noticed the show and was conscious of the stone. The story has been revealed.

The 4 names on the stone had been younger males from Williams Faculty in 1957, relationship younger girls from Bennington Faculty. A building challenge close to the boys’ fraternity home on the Williams campus on the time had left slabs of granite on the positioning, which apparently proved irresistible to the boys.

“One in all my housemates determined to get his fingers on one of many stones and take it to a stonemason in North Adams who would carve what you see there,” mentioned Eugene (EJ) Johnson, one names on the marker which is now in its 80s. “All of us had girlfriends at Bennington Faculty – that is the ‘misplaced in motion’ half,” he laughed.

The 4 cut up the price of the engraving and introduced the stone house to their fraternity.

“We saved it in our front room; it grew to become a espresso desk,” Johnson mentioned. “We in all probability had just a few drinks and thought it may be enjoyable. It was very helpful to have it as a espresso desk.

After graduating from Williams, they “left the stone behind as a result of we had no motive to win.” And there he remained, finally transferring from the lounge to the garden of the fraternity home (which finally closed and have become the Wooden Home residence).

Two of the 4 married their Bennington Faculty girlfriends (however not Johnson), he mentioned.

Johnson remained at Williams for 52 years as artwork instructor Amos Lawrence. The others left (two died) and he misplaced monitor of the remaining buddy.

“I do not assume we thought in regards to the future,” Johnson mentioned when requested if the boys had thought of what may occur to the stone. “It was simply one thing we had enjoyable doing. It was type of a lark. We went on with our lives and did various things. As a result of I am nonetheless right here, he chased me.

“Over time, every so often, somebody would journey over the stone and say, ‘Is that you just?'” he mentioned. He joked, “This silly rock retains popping up in my life.”

So the query that bothers Giffin – and Johnson – is how did the stone find yourself in a Bennington cemetery all these years later? Therefore the thriller.

At this level, nobody is aware of. Not even Williams’ chief archivist, Sylvia Brown, who, after being contacted by Giffin, was capable of inform a part of the story of the stone’s delivery.

“No person can determine how he acquired from the (Wooden) home to Bennington,” she mentioned. “They left him on the fraternity…they weren’t going to take him house.”

“Final I knew was nonetheless on the grounds of what’s now generally known as Wooden Home,” Johnson mentioned, noting how a lot of a enterprise transferring the stone should have been. “It is not precisely weightless. It should not have been simple to get there. »

Giffin speculated that somebody thought the stone was a legit gravestone and, with the Bennington, VT inscription, determined that was the place it belonged. And carried the extremely heavy stone north to the village cemetery, laying it in opposition to a fence.

Giffin’s volunteers work extensively in previous cemeteries – in truth, he’s returning to Bennington in Might to assist restore broken stones within the village cemetery – and I requested him if this expertise was uncommon.

“Each time I get entangled in a challenge, there’s at all times extra to the story,” he mentioned. “It is at all times one thing occurring, there’s at all times a aspect story, at all times a drama. That is a part of the enjoyable of doing that.”

Does anybody know the way the stone landed on Morgan Avenue in Bennington? We might love to listen to from you! E-mail [email protected].

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