SCHUYLERVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – They say that nature abhors a vacuum. At Hudson Crossing Park in Schuylerville, though, nature appears to be fine with a telephone.
The “Telephone of the Wind” is a rotary phone, affixed to a wooden pavilion at Hudson Crossing Park’s “Secret Garden” area. Next to it, a plaque gives some instructions, telling visitors to pick up the receiver and speak into it, passing on words, thoughts and memories to a lost loved one. It’s a one-sided dialogue, of course, but one intended to keep lost loved ones alive in the hearts of those still living.
On Friday, July 1, sending those messages became impossible. Hudson Crossing Director Kate Morse made a post on the park Facebook page condemning an act of unknown vandalism – the phone’s receiver had been cut off, and was nowhere to be found.
“To see vandalism occur in such a sweet, peaceful spot is particularly disheartening, but the frustration and disappointment were quickly replaced by a wonderful reminder of just how great our community is,” said Morse. “As soon as news of the vandalism was posted we were receiving offers to replace the phone.”
Ultimately, two offers were made from the park community to replace the snipped phone. Then, last week, one parkgoer found the original receiver – damaged but intact – with some help from a parkgoer’s dog.
The “Telephone of the Wind” was installed at Hudson Crossing Park by an area girl scout troop in 2021. It was inspired by a similar telephone erected in Ōtsuchi, Japan, following the tsunami that started the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, killing an estimated 1,285 people. Like its younger Schuylerville counterpart, the phone was erected as a way for citizens to grapple with loss by reconnecting. It was a different crisis that prompted the Hudson Crossing line.
“The Telephone of the Wind gives those who have lost a loved one an opportunity to say things that they may not have had a chance to say – something that the girl scouts thought was very important, especially after the massive losses all of our communities suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Morse.
The girl scouts left more marks on Hudson Crossing Park. The troop also created a meditation garden, complete with a bench, trellis, and set of windchimes.
The severed telephone isn’t the only recent mark of vandalism that Hudson Crossing Park has suffered. On Friday, July 8, the park got some work done at “the cuss bench,” a picnic bench that had some colorful language etched into it. K-6 students from the “Lunch, Learn & Play” program in the town of Salem paid a visit and gave their all to public service projects around the park – including sanding and refinishing the offending bench.
In Facebook posts regarding the vandalism, Morse says that her goal in speaking up about the issues isn’t to point blame at kids – after all, it was young community members who put the phone in place to begin with, and who buffed the bench. The kind acts of many outdo the destructive acts of a select few – and the phone at Hudson Crossing Park is ready to receive words of love and kindness once more.
“We see kids do so much good in our communities on a daily basis, and it’s all too often overlooked in favor of complaining about a few of them making bad decisions,” Morse wrote. “We choose to look at it as a good reminder that if you see anything that doesn’t seem quite right happening at Hudson Crossing Park, talk to those involved. Remind them that this place is here only because people work hard to care for it, and that it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Remind them that senseless acts of vandalism like this aren’t just something to stave off boredom, it’s actually damaging a place that means a lot to a lot of people…and hey, they’re here too, so it must mean something to them as well.”