Resident Dead Guy
Photo and Story by Gloria Salavarria
Shortly after I moved to Middlebury, I stopped off at the Middlebury Police Department to find out if I needed to purchase a bicycle license and while I waited at the window, an officer came through the foyer and said, “Hi, Joe!”
Needless to say I thought that was strange because I was the only one in the room and my name wasn’t Joe. Maybe he was calling out to someone in the office. Maybe it’s a password before entering the door that separates the police from those they are sworn to protect and serve.
The only items in the foyer beside myself were the chair I was sitting in, an ashtray and a squat fiberboard container in the corner – the kind we Midwesterners use for keeping a handy supply of rock salt for deicing the sidewalk.
It wasn’t until eight years later that I learned that container held not rock salt but a dead guy named “Joe” – along with several yards of dirt.
Dead guys usually don’t hang out at the local police department, but I’ve since learned that anything can happen in Middlebury.
Joe’s wife decided to dispose of his cremated remains by pouring him all over the grave of her daughter’s dead baby.
Her daughter took exception to that and called the Middlebury Police Department and filed a complaint. So a Middlebury police officer took a fiberboard drum over to Grace Lawn Cemetery and raked and shoveled Joe into Middlebury history.
Next they called the widow and asked her what she wanted done with Joe’s remains.
She told him that she had disposed of him and that’s final. What happens to his remains from now on was not her concern.
Meanwhile the daughter called again and complained that she still could see Joe on her baby’s gravesite so this time the Middlebury police took a shovel and removed an inch of soil off the top. The fiberboard container just got heavier.
So Joe sat in the corner of the Middlebury Police Department foyer as the years went by and the statute of limitations ran out on the widow’s right to reclaim the remains.
Finally, at a town council meeting Mike O’Reilly, a former State Trooper and member of the local American Legion, announced they would just bury Joe “at sea.”
Well – the Legionnaires poured Joe’s cremains and several yards of Middlebury cemetery dirt off the trestle bridge into the Little Elkhart River.
By now Joe should be cruising through Elkhart and on his way to South Bend – headed for Lake Michigan. In another couple of thousand years he should make his way down to St. Lawrence to the North Atlantic.
Bon voyage, Joe!