Submerged tombstone a recent mystery in Barre
BARRE – Eleven-year-old Tory Stoltz plays along the brook that runs behind her Eastern Avenue home regularly. That's why she knows the World War II veteran's gravestone that appeared in the brook this week hadn't been there long.
"I was just looking around in here and I just saw it," Stoltz said while standing next to the brook. "And I haven't seen it here before."
Moreover, Stoltz said there was another reason why she knew the stone was a new addition to the brook: "It wasn't too slimy, it was just wet."
The stone, which is a gray 2-by-1-foot slab of what appears to be granite, belongs to Emil Romano, who died on Feb. 8, 1986. Engraved into the top right corner of the stone are the numbers 404. Stoltz's soon-to-be-stepfather, Art Foster, hopes those numbers could be the clue to finding out where the stone belongs.
Also engraved on the stone along with Romano's name are "PFC US ARMY WORLD WAR II" and the dates of his birth and death.
Foster, who hauled the roughly 70-pound stone out of the brook on Thursday night, said he'd spent his morning sending out e-mails and making calls about Stoltz's find. As a recruiter for the Vermont Army National Guard, Foster said he felt obligated to make sure the stone makes it back to its rightful place.
"I e-mailed everybody in the state, and I'm getting a lot of help from everybody from the VA to mortuary affairs," Foster said. "As soon as I e-mailed it, I probably got 30 e-mails back from all of the full-time guys from the state. I figured if I just got it out there and just let the people who work in this field, mortuary affairs and the VA, let them pull their strings, hopefully they'll be able to find it quicker than I would just calling whoever."
By Friday evening, though, Foster said he was still no closer to solving the mystery. And he had called around. Assuming the gravestone was granite, Foster said he'd called Rock of Ages to see if they could provide some direction.
"Rock of Ages said there's 50 different local businesses that could have made that stone, there's just no way to tell," he said.
Foster said he'd also contacted Barre city officials, and he wasn't ruling out that the stone may have never made it to a cemetery.
"It's a possibility that somebody had it in their garage and it never got to where it was supposed to go," he said.
Before heading out to go fishing on Friday evening, Foster said he didn't expect to solve the mystery over the weekend because most of his contacts would be off. However, next week will be a different story, he said.
"I'm sure I'll hear something back by Monday or Tuesday."
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