Vilas Bridge



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.

“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.”