October 29, 2013
5. The discovery of the mummified cat:
One of Drury’s least known creatures rests in a Trustee Science Center display case: a mummified cat. When the chapel underwent renovations in 1962, workers discovered the cat’s body between the plaster of the basement ceiling and the floor of the main auditorium. It is assumed that the cat had been stuck in the space since 1881 when the chapel was built. According to the display, the cat was “a victim of compulsory chapel attendance.”
The mummified cat and Toby
4. Toby the skeleton:
A skeleton named “Toby” also resides in the TSC as one of “Drury’s Most Famous Specimens.” The skeleton was purchased as a teaching tool in 1873, but students often used him to pull pranks. One prank involved suspending Toby from the ceiling of Stone Chapel before President George gave his baccalaureate sermon in 1911. According to University Archivist William Garvin, a student named Fred K. Rowe most likely pulled the prank, but another student admitted to it instead.
“A junior named Percy Lodge came forward and said, ‘I did it,’ and on June 8, he was expelled and kicked out of the institution,” Garvin explains. “He had to finish his studies up at Washington University. Twenty years to the day later in 1931, Drury granted him a degree.”
3. The unexplainable shadow of Lay Hall:
Only recently, some staff and faculty members of Lay Hall have repeatedly said to have seen a “shadowy figure” or heard strange, loud noises in the basement that they were unable to explain.
Kristie Vincent, an administrative assistant, says she had several experiences one summer when she was pulling files from the basement storage room.
“There were several times that I could see that there were shadows, like somebody standing there, the feet of shadows. I could see them under the door and I knew no one was out there,” she said. “It was almost like they were curious.”
While Garvin recalls no certain legends in Lay, he says that a traumatic event occurred close to the area on Halloween night in 1908—61 years before Lay was built. A student named Calvin Finkel, son of professor B.F. Finkel, was shot and mortally wounded by a special policeman. Finkel died a few days later from the wound.
2. The Internet tale that gained credence:
Some students believe that a Victorian house once stood where Smith Hall is today. The story goes that the house caught fire, a little girl who lived there escaped, but ran back to retrieve a teddy bear and flames consumed the girl.
Glenn Cuttrell, a maintenance worker who works in the residence halls during the summer, explains that he found a desk a few years ago in one of Smith’s rooms with writing on it warning future residents of the girl’s ghost.
“[The desk] had a little story that was being passed on from one year’s residents to the future residents to let them know that if there were any odd activities in the room, don’t worry about it. There was a ghost in the room,” he recalls. “They said it was a girl ghost, a girl’s presence in the area who liked to play tricks.”
However, according to Garvin, a Central High School student manufactured the story of the little girl.
“For a class project, [students had] been studying urban legends and how urban legends get started and circulated [the student] made up a story and posted it on the Internet,” he says. “I went over to Greene County archives finally and looked up pieces of lands to see if anything was built on there. There was never a Victorian House there to burn down.”
1. The ghost of Clara Thompson Hall
For decades, music students and faculty have claimed the existence of a ghost in Clara Thompson Hall. They say they’ve heard banging or rustling coming from the hall late at night, seen a figure of a woman on the balcony, or felt a presence on stage.
Dr. Sidney Vice, former music department head, appeared in a series of articles about the ghost in a special edition of The Drury Mirror in 1987. He suggests that it is a “musical ghost”—not one to be afraid of.
“I have little doubt, however, that it is a benevolent ghost,” Dr. Vice said. “I don’t believe it is threatening at all; rather I think it is watching over our program.”
Story by Kaitlyn Schwers, a senior multimedia production and journalism major at Drury University.