Fred Woods

“Jokester & Photographer Extraordinaire”
(1909-1970)

Fred Wood was known for his photography and his pranks. He is believed to have been the last person to fire the cannon in Tribou Park.

According to one local source, when Fred was a teenager, he had heard that the town crew was going to put a cement plug in the cannon so it couldn’t be fired anymore. The night before the cannon was to be plugged, Fred and his friends went to Tribou Park and filled the cannon with crumpled beer cans. The following night, after the town had sealed the canon, Fred and his accomplices went back to Tribou Park and drilled a hole through the cement plug and worked in a half pound of gun powder amongst the cans and into the touchhole. Then they lit the cannon.

Apparently, it was quite an explosion - enough to blast the cement plug out. In a display of poetic justice, the house hit by the cement plug was his own home which stood on Pleasant Street, just a short distance from Tribou Park. Moreover, the room in the Wood house that was damaged was Fred’s bedroom. Lucky for Fred, he wasn’t injured in the incident because he was in Tribou Park rather than at home in his room. The source of this story related “Fred’s mother was not too pleased.”

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Above left: The building on Pleasant Street, now known as Mellishwood, which formerly was the home of the Mellish and Wood families. Fred Wood was living in this house at the time of the “cannon incident.” Above right: The cannon in Tribou Park. The cannon faces Pleasant Street, and the Wood’s home was in the line of fire.

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The Ski Photography of Fred Woods

Fred Wood was known for his studio portrait photography; however, he also took many photographs of skiers.

1942 Vermont Champions, taken in Gully Lodge. Back row: Coach Richard Marble Front row, left to right: Toni McManama, Bud Schoenfeld, Harry Ambrose, Harry Putney, Larry Ambrose, Vernon Cram, Bob Green.

1942 Vermont Champions, taken in Gully Lodge. Back row: Coach Richard Marble Front row, left to right: Toni McManama, Bud Schoenfeld, Harry Ambrose, Harry Putney, Larry Ambrose, Vernon Cram, Bob Green.

Henrietta Sharp, February 23, 1941. Henrietta has just let go of the rope and is doing a ski jump uphill at 65 miles per hour.

Cover of The Ski Bulletin featuring a photo of Joe Ward at Suicide Six

Skier enjoying the slopes


Humor and Art

Fred’s humor and artistic skills are also apparent in the poems, sketches, and other work he left behind. In his later years, Fred worked for Mrs. Harding, an antiques dealer, helping her to find merchandise. According to local lore, while scouting for antiques, he found a skeleton in Middlebury, Vermont, that belonged to a former medical school professor. He purchased the skeleton and brought it back to Woodstock. Mrs. Harding was apparently not enthused with the idea of trying to sell a skeleton, so for years the skeleton resided in Fred Wood’s garage.

Periodically, “Oswald,” as the skeleton was dubbed, made appearances at parades, the Rotary Fair, and other town events, before being donated to the Woodstock Union High School, where it was used in art and biology classes. Eventually, concerns were raised about having a human skeleton at the school, and “Oswald” was laid to rest in a special ceremony in Cushing Cemetery.

William Hazard. Portrait by Fred Woods.

William Hazard. Portrait by Fred Woods.

While Fred’s humor and exploits were legendary, Fred also leaves behind a legacy of having been an extraordinary photographer. Fred’s portrait of Thomas Hazard’s great uncle, William Hazard, is one example. William Hazard was born in Woodstock, Vermont, in 1855. He passed away in 1958.


Rhoda Teagle

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“The Quiet Helper”
(1910-2001)

In 1910, Rhoda Walker was born into a prominent family in New York City. Her father was a senior partner of White and Case lawyers, and from family photographs, it appears that she and her four sisters enjoyed a privileged childhood.

Rhoda was educated at the Chapin School in NYC and Bryn Mawr College, and then studied music in Paris with Nadia Boulanger. In 1931, she married John French Jr. (Mary Billings French Rockefeller’s brother), with whom she had three children. In 1948, she moved to Woodstock, Vermont, and seven years later, after the dissolution of her marriage to John French, she married Frank H. Teagle Jr. of Woodstock.


1. Rhoda’s parents, Roberts and Edna Walker, on honeymoon in 1904
2. Rhoda with her first fish
3. Rhoda and her sisters and parents
4. Rhoda’s family picnicking in 1918 with Cadillac
5. Rhoda as a flower girl

6. Rhoda in a WWII publicity photo for papers in NY
7. Rhoda’s father, Roberts Walker, and daughters
8. Scarsdale, New York (Four Way Lodge)
9. Rhoda and her sisters by fountain
10. Rhoda and her four sisters
11. Rhoda and her dolls, Roberta and Eloise


Part of Teagle’s Commencement Address

Above: Teagle, while serving on the Woodstock Village Board of Trustees, c. 1948

Above: Teagle, while serving on the Woodstock Village Board of Trustees, c. 1948

Rhoda never stopped learning, and she never stopped helping others. Everywhere you looked, she was there… reshelving books at the school library, taking minutes at the schoolboard meetings, serving sandwiches to donors at Bloodmobile drives, teaching students how to read, rescuing undernourished cows, running the Girl Scout House, and holding weekly craft sessions for all the Brownies in town.

The Vermont Standard dubbed her “The Quiet Helper,” while others described Rhoda as “the most unselfish person in the world.

From the time she moved to Woodstock, Rhoda was involved in community affairs. In 1979, Rhoda - who had volunteered for years at the high school - was asked to deliver the commencement speech. An excerpt from this speech is shown to the right. In it, she emphasized the importance of learning.

Rhoda went on to say:

“Don’t let anything keep you from helping or at least reaching out to another human being. You, too, will be enriched… There will always be someone or something that needs your attention. You can be ears for the deaf, eyes for the sightless, or limbs for the paraplegic… If you can do what needs to be done and withal have a sense of usefulness, you’ll receive unexpected and infinite riches.”

While some commencement speakers share grand ideas that they feel would be good for others to follow, Rhoda Teagle spoke from the heart and followed her own advice.

Vilas Bridge

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“KICK A POO”, “THE LEGEND”
(1915-2005)

Vilas Bridge was born in Barnard, Vermont in 1915, but he spent most of his later years in Woodstock. He was a visible presence on the street - drawing attention for his casual style of dress and his eye-catching headwear, which included a Boston Red Sox helmet, a Yoda hat, a large assortment of caps, and - of course -the legendary antlered helmet.

In the middle of the summer, one might see him sweeping the streets wearing his heavy, plaid wool jacket. In winter, one might see him shoveling snow, sometimes only half clothed. According to one anecdote, a lady from out of town rushed into one of the stores in the village and reported that a man was out on the street disrobing. The person to whom the incident was reported went outside to see for himself, only to find Vilas taking off his jacket and shirt because he’d been shoveling snow and had gotten too warm.


Vilas and one of his “horned” helmets

Vilas and one of his “horned” helmets

Local resident Susan Fuller, whose father - Donald Sheehan - was the police chief, recalled an event from her childhood that may have been the genesis for Vilas’ colorful head attire. She states:

“I remember the night he showed up at our door. It was a dark and stormy night. He was dressed in a long black slicker with a black oilskin rain hat. Tears were streaming down his cheeks, and he wanted to talk with ‘The Chief.’ I promptly got ‘The Chief’ and listened from behind the nearest door. Vilas was sure people were trying to run him down as he walked along the road, and he was very upset. Don took him in and gently convinced him that no one was out to get him, but the all-black outfit was hard to see in the dark and rain. I believe that was the start of his unusual and famous headwear.”