VANDERBILT MUSEUM… Who stole the Butterfly Collection???

The Butterfly Collection Caper of 1959!

written by Brian Asher

It was the fall of 1959, I was a Junior and Quarterback of the football team at the newly formed Harborfields High School…

Most of the football players were part of the “Mole Hole Gang”.  The Mole Hole Club house was a non-working chicken coop behind John Kaiser’s house on Greenlawn Road.  John was a tackle on the football team and his mother was a Math teacher at Harborfields High School.  It was amazing how a bunch of guys over six feet tall and over 200 lbs. were scared to death of John’s Mom, Mrs. Kaiser. She was the math teacher and ruled her classes with an iron hand but guess what — you learned math!

One Saturday night in October, having chalked up another victory on the gridiron that afternoon (we were undefeated that year) we were all sitting around the Mole Hole.  Anyway, I guess we must have been bored because someone got the bright idea that we should visit the Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport.  That would have been a fine idea if it was daytime and it was open.

VANDERBILT MUSEUM

THE VANDERBILT MUSEUM CENTERPORT

Well a bunch of us piled into Dave Krusa’s 1952 Oldsmobile convertible and headed to the Vanderbilt.  We parked down the road where Cobblestone Court is now, and we climbed the wall onto the museum grounds.  We tried the front door but it was locked (duh).  We looked around till we found a window that we could “jimmy” open and gained entry. (no burglar alarms then, thank goodness)… We walked around and looked at the various displays until we came upon a butterfly that was so nice it was irresistible!  We thought it would make a lovely addition to the Mole Hole, you know, give it some class.  John distracted his mom while the rest of us snuck it back to the Mole Hole. That butterfly collection was quite a trophy and we enjoyed it for a week or so until we decided it should be returned for the rest of the world to enjoy!  As everyone knows it’s easier to steal something than it is to return what you stole, but the return trip went just as smoothly as the first trip.  This time we didn’t bother breaking in, we just left the butterfly collection by the front door with a note that read, “Next time we’ll get the whale” signed the Boy Scouts!!!