Peter Zimmerman continues his ramble through New England, shooting some images our way as he goes.
TODAY I LUCKED OUT (writes Pete). Not only did I have the Old First Church of Bennington, built in 1762, all to myself, but then I had the audience of its pastor, the Rev. Kenneth A. Clarke, as well.
I had been poking around the old boneyard adjacent to the cemetery before trying the door to the church and finding it open but “No One home.”
Inside I found a vase of simple goldenrod.
The flag of Vermont and Old Glory were standing on either side of the pulpit.
One thing was conspicuously absent: any kind of Cross or statue of Christ.
I couldn’t resist climbing up the stairs to the top of the pulpit.
A large Bible was turned to Psalm 91.
The tools of the trade. Reverend Clarke told me that other people climb up there, too, and sometimes leave the volume open on a different page.
I found a very old foot-warmer in one of the box pews (as opposed to regular old slip pews).
Here is pew number 9, number 9, number 9….
I asked Reverend Clarke about some of the headstones I had seen in the graveyard. Many of them were decorated with “ascending angels,” which came into vogue after the skull-and-crossbone style, and were followed by the weeping willow.
One of the ascending angels bore a distinct resemblance to Groucho Marx. Rev. Clarke laughed and said he hadn’t noticed that.
Robert Frost is the most famous inhabitant. He and his wife Elinor share a footstone with two children.
There are lots of Revolutionary War-era soldiers and patriots, but not Ethan Allen or Seth Warner.
Five of Vermont’s Governors can be found here, the female’s first female settler, Bridget Harwood, and some fellow who drowned on the Titanic who used to work as a herdsman on the Colgate family estate (I got the last one from the Reverend). The first person buried in the cemetery died in 1762, when George Washington was a mere 30 years old. I wanted to know whether a person could STILL be buried here. Yes and no, says Clarke. Your family has to already have a plot. And spots are tight, he said with a wink.