Gravity Free in the Granite State
On the campus of Keene College is what looks like a large tombstone. It’s five feet tall, three feet wide and a foot thick. And it’s kind of a tombstone. One that marks the death of … gravity. Its epitaph reads:
This monument has been erected by the Gravity Researcher Foundation, Roger W. Babson, founder. It is to remind students of the blessings forthcoming when science determines what gravity is, how it works, and how it may be controlled.
Roger W. Babson was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1875. His two defining characteristics were his wealth and his hatred of gravity, which he apparently blamed for a pair of drowning deaths in his family. He wanted to find a way to keep planes from crashing and coyotes with “Help!” signs from falling off canyon cliffs, so he set up the Gravity Research Foundation in New Boston in the late 1940s. He thought the town a safe enough spot if nuclear war broke out (real estate was a much different game back then). The GRF held meetings, sponsored scientific papers, and generally attempted to not stand under heavy things.
To market the GRF, Babson made donations to various colleges across the country with the stipulation that they each set up one of these strange monuments. About a dozen of them were installed — six of them in New England — and New Hampshire got one. After all, we were its original headquarters, which itself is marked with a stone at an intersection in the center of New Boston. This stone memorial states:
Here at New Boston, NH, Roger W. Babson and his associates pioneered in active research for anti-gravity and a partial gravity insulator.
Yes. Yes, they did.
Originally, the Keene College stone was tucked against the wall at the side of Butterfield Hall, but was moved to a new spot in 2013 in front of the Putnam Science Center (thanks Mark Reynolds, for the update).
If you want to see the rest of the New England stones, here are my travels to those. And then please visit them all yourself so that I won’t be the only living person to have visited all the New England anti-gravity monuments. It just feels weird.
J.W. Ocker lives in Nashua and writes spooky novels and travelogues. His next book, “Cursed Objects,” debuts in September and is up for preorder. Visit him at oddthingsiveseen.com or send him New Hampshire oddities that he should visit at firstname.lastname@example.org.