“Jokester & Photographer Extraordinaire”
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.”
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.
The Ski Photography of Fred Woods
Fred Wood was known for his studio portrait photography; however, he also took many photographs of skiers.
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.
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.