Gordon in the News: last updated 07/26/2011

Gordon Lore: The Anvil

This is an edited version of an email discussion about a Gordon-Barrington tradition. 

Craig Story '89 (professor of biology): Now Gordon has a Golden Goose, proudly held by the winning class, but at the time of the joining of Gordon and Barrington College, the thing to have and hold proudly was the Anvil, which was a symbol of the fusing of our two institutions into one. It was a REAL full-sized anvil. I admit, as a freshman student, somehow through the political efforts of my roommate Russ, I ended up for a time having the thing in the trunk of my 1978 Pontiac Bonneville and driving it by moonlight through the woods near Gull Pond in an effort to hide it. Science has shown that memory changes over time, but that’s what I remember. Nobody seems to know what became of the Anvil; perhaps its heaviness was its undoing. Or it ended up with the cars in Gull Pond.

Adrianne Cook '92 (director of alumni and parent relations): I so remember the Anvil. Tim Stebbings introduced me to the tradition and my class was able to keep it hidden until Commencement. It was a part of our ceremony. Such great memories around that object! Does anywhere know where it might be? I thought I’d heard at one point it was hidden in the Archives?

Eric Convey '87: The Anvil was indeed the unwieldy, heavy thing suggested by its name. At Barrington, students put considerable effort into securing the Virgin Woody and displaying it at Homecoming and commencement. The Virgin Woody was a tombstone that according to rules had to be hidden somewhere on campus with a certain portion in plain view. Of course cheaters at times hid it in such obscure places as under a bed in Walker Hall, or at least so we angry sophomores were told after wasting many hours searching for it one year. At Gordon, the Nodrog, I believe, was a pole with a running shoe affixed atop it. Post-merger, the Anvil emerged.
Sadly, efforts to create keen interest in it were largely unsuccessful, at least in the mid-1980s, despite the efforts of Tim Stebbings—himself a creature of both institutions—and others. At one point, even a Public Safety officer helped gin up interest by offering tips as to where it was hidden. (On that night, it was behind the former Rhodes Gymnasium.)
Alas, displaying the Anvil at big events never seemed to matter at Gordon. I am proud to have drawn the attention—no, the “interrogation”—of suspicious Public Safety officers at Barrington and at Gordon during Virgin Woody/Anvil related shenanigans, but at Gordon the competition was far less intense and the competitors fewer. Imagine the possibilities for re-creating such a tradition with modern technologies such as RFID and GPS devices! Might there be a 21st century version that would be less unwieldy and easily tracked by a referee who could ensure the thing was hidden only according to rules?

Ryan Groff '06 (program coordinator, Jerusalem and Athens Forum): I came long after all of these happenings, but there was a gathering of RAs in the spring of 2004, spearheaded by Gordon MacLeod. Evidently they had been contacted by some guy who buried the Anvil in the Gordon woods and had the coordinates (think, geocaching). This character, as Gordon presented it to us, was actually SELLING the coordinates for $1000. Needless to say, the male population on campus did NOT opt to pony up the dough. There were discussions about how to track this guy down, though, and make him tell us. That’s the most recent reference I’ve heard to someone actually knowing where it was.

Krista Christie '04 (public safety): I distinctly remember the Anvil when I was an RA in Wood in 2002. It was a big part of dorm rivalry and it was always the goal to steal it and/or hide it if you had it. Joel Tom Tatate was determined to renew the older and fading tradition. Our RA staff had it in JTT’s office and I used to prop my feet on it when we had staff meetings. I know that after I left the Wood staff, Ferrin (our dorm arch-rival) stole it. I heard a rumor that it was hidden somewhere in the Gordon woods. If memory serves, possibly near the stone bench on the hill to the right of the path to Gull Pond. I have no idea if the rumor was accurate or if it is still there.

Martha Crain (Gordon archivist): I have not stubbed my toe on an anvil in the archives, so, it’s not here.