The last thing that Eleanor and Wilbur Fracas had expected to encounter on their foliage drive in St. Johnsbury, Vermont three weeks ago was a representative of a species widely thought to be extinct: a tenured Humanities professor.
The Fracases, a retired couple from Boston, had just turned onto Gurnsey Road, an old logging route in Snaffles Gap State Forest, when Eleanor noticed a naked, furry biped in the distance, running through the woods.
“We immediately stopped the car and walked over to where I had seen the creature, but of course it was gone by then,” says Eleanor, still visibly shaken by the incident. “There was evidence of a small campfire, as well as a weathered copy of The Essays of John Ruskin and what appeared to be the yellowed, brittle remains of several pages of lecture notes. We also found a pipe, a pouch of loose tobacco, and a tweed jacket that had seen better days.
“A few yards away we discovered some scat, which a park ranger said could have been a human’s. The scat was tiny and pebbly-like, so it might have come from a rabbit. But Humanities faculty are notorious for being chronically constipated, so I’m pretty sure it was a man or woman who produced those little nuggets.”
University of Vermont Provost Frida Pinth seriously doubts that Eleanor saw a Humanities faculty member: “No one has seen a tenured professor in those disciplines in Vermont since 2014, two years after the state legislature established a rigorous post-tenure review process for faculty in all fields except Neuroscience and E-sports. It’s possible that someone could have walked to St. Johnsbury from Dartmouth using the New Hampshire-Vermont Underground Railroad, but it seems unlikely. That’s a distance of almost 60 miles.”
Eleanor Fracas’s response: “Dammit, I know what I saw. Did I mention that it was wearing elbow patches?”