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Story ID:8685
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Gilboa New York USA
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By Fred Wickert

The high school was way out in the middle of nowhere. It was built on the side of a mountain and part of the building was actually nestled right in to the side of the mountain. From the road there was a semi-circular driveway. In the middle of the driveway were the front steps leading to the front doors of the building. Along the driveway on the right side of the building is a long concrete retaining wall holding back the mountain to prevent it from sliding down in to the driveway. From the back of the school one can walk right up to the top of the retaining wall.

Now there is an eight foot high chain link fence along the top of the retaining wall, but that fence did not yet exist at the time of this story. From the point where the wall ran into the wall of the building itself, about two feet out from the wall in the wall of the building is a large metal grate about eighteen inches square. It covers the intake for the school ventilation system. The grate is held in place by four lag screws, one in each of the four corners.

It was in September. The nights were cool but not to bad, and the days were sunny and nice. The county fair was on in Cobleskill. At the time, that was the most exciting thing going on in the county. It happened that a skunk had been killed by a car and lay fairly intact in the road. About four of us boys had discovered it laying there. A scheme was born. Suppose, just suppose that skunk mysteriously found itself inside the fresh air vent of the school building? Aside from a considerable stink, just what would happen?

It seemed the answer was rather obvious. It should take some amount of time to locate the source of the stench, remove it and air out the building. They could not possibly keep school open under the circumstances. With school closed for the day, a certain small group of boys could be free to go to Cobleskill to the fair grounds and enjoy the day.

A feed sack, a shovel and a pick up truck were quickly brought to the scene. The skunk was shoveled in to the sack, the sack placed in a cardboard box and then in the bed of the pick up truck. A short drive to the school and one boy with a wrench to the top of the retaining wall. The lag screws were removed from three corners of the grate and it was allowed to hang down from the remaining screw in a bottom corner. The feed sack containing the dead skunk was thrown inside the vent duct, the grate put back in place and lag screws put back in. All was ready. The cardboard box was disposed of and the boys returned to their homes.

The next morning the buses arrived at the school as usual. Faculty arrived by car as usual. When the building was entered, no one stayed for long but quickly headed for the door and fresh air. How could such a thing have happened and where was the stench coming from? Surely, there must soon follow an announcement that school could not be held that day.

Wrong! The supervising principal was one Vivian Burdette Peckham, Colonel, United States Army. He was otherwise known as Prof. Prof was not easily intimidated by anything. All the windows in the building were opened wide. It did not take nearly as long as expected to figure out where the stench was coming from. In a short time the sack with skunk was found and removed. Most of the stench was
flushed from the building in a short time due to the fresh air coming in the opened windows. We were all ordered back inside and classes resumed. No one went to the fair that day.

The boys involved were never found out but they were greatly disappointed their great scheme had failed. School had been disrupted little more than an hour. There was much gossip about it the rest of the day along with speculation as to who the culprit or culprits may be. Some of the speculation was to close for comfort but an equal amount was directed at perfectly innocent persons. It seems there was no shortage of those considered capable of doing such a thing.


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