I don’t mean he walked absent-mindedly out in front of a bus which had to swerve to avoid flattening him. He disappeared from the bus during a routine trip.
It was 1 December 1949.
James Tedford was a war veteran. During the mid 1940s he came home one day to find that his 28 year old wife Pearl had vanished from their home. She seems to have left no note and was never seen again. Whatever the cause of her disappearance from his life, James began to suffer from depression and moved into the Soldier’s Retirement Home in Bennington, Vermont.
By now he was 68 and after spending some weeks visiting family in St Albans, Vermont he caught a long distance bus home.
The trip by way of Route 7 through the rugged and unspoiled Green Mountain wilderness area normally took just under eight hours but heavy snow resulted in a considerable delay.
The driver plus fourteen of his fellow bus passengers testified to seeing the elderly man sleeping in his seat after the last stop before Bennington, but by the time the bus arrived at its destination there was no sign of him. No one saw him leave the bus.
All his luggage was still on the luggage rack and an open bus timetable lay on his empty seat, but he has never been found dead or alive to this day.
It was exactly three years since the disappearance of a 18 year old Paula Jean Welden, a student from Bennington College, from a hiking trail near Glastenbury Mountain on 1 December 1946.
Paula went hiking by herself along the Long Trail close to Glastenbury Mountain. A middle aged couple was hiking about 100 metres behind her, but lost sight of her when she rounded a rocky outcrop. When they rounded the corner themselves, they saw no sign of her. They were the last people ever to see her.
Ten and a half months after James Tetford vanished from the Bennington bus, eight year old Paul Jephson went missing in the same area on 12 October 1950.
His parents were caretakers of a country property and he went with his mom in their pickup truck to feed some pigs. He was last seen playing happily not far from the pigsty but when his mom finished her duties and looked for him, he was gone without a trace.
Hundreds of police officers and civilians joined in the search and a New Hampshire sheriff brought in a bloodhound who tracked the boy’s scent as far as a nearby crossroads.
His father said he had talked about nothing other than the mountain in the week before he vanished. Evidently he went wandering off. Maybe he saw something that tickled his interest. He has never been seen, alive or dead since that day.
Just two weeks after Paul vanished, on 26 October 1950, 53 year old Frieda Langer set off with her cousin on a hike from their campsite near Somerset Reservoir. She slipped and fell into a stream, and being cold and wet told her cousin she would return to the campsite to change. She never returned. A massive search took place over the next two weeks, and aircraft and helicopters assisted from the air, but no-one saw any trace of her.
Eventually on 12 May 1951 someone found Frieda’s body in an area near the reservoir that had already been extensively searched months previously. It wasn’t possible to determine the cause of death after al this time, and it’s strange that she wasn’t found during the initial search. So we may never know what became of her – if she fell again and hit her head, was abducted or killed, or something more mysterious.
The first of the five mysteries happened on 12 November 1945 when 74 year old Middie Rivers, a local and experienced hunting guide, went missing while leading a group of four hunters through an area called Hell Hollow in the southwestern area of Glastenbury Mountain, not far from the Long Trail.
Hundreds of military and civilians took part in an exhaustive eight-day search but he was never seen again.
Of these five disappearances, only Frieda’s body was ever found.
There seems to be nothing in common among those who vanished. They represent both sexes and and vary in age from 8 to 74. The only things in common is the time of year (early winter) and the time of day (late afternoon).
We will probably never know for sure what happened to these folk who went missing in New England’s Bennington Triangle.
But the strangest of all is the case of James Edward Tedford, the guy who went missing from a crowded bus somewhere on Route 7. Disappearing from the open countryside is one thing but when fourteen of the passengers claimed to see an old man asleep in his seat, but no sign of him when they reached the bus station?
Perhaps his beloved Pearl who vanished from his life several years previously, didn’t “run off” but came back to fetch him into whatever alternate dimension she’s in so they could be together again.