Tribute to Studie
As a native of Bethel, I have known Studie Cross most of my life. We met through his cousin, Diane, who sat close to me in Kindergarten at the Ethel Bisbee School, and who remains a close friend to this day. Studie was nine years older than Diane and me. When he started school in the mid-1940s, there were no “Special Needs” tests or categories or programs -- just the huge and homogenized classrooms that were the educational reality at the time. But what Studie lacked in traditional book-learning he more than made up for in other ways.
The first thing you noticed about Studie was that he had a unique way of speaking. In fact, you could say he had his own special dialect, which Diane and I fondly referred to as “Studiology.” In Studie-speak, “Gould Academy” was called “Gould Acabedy,” a memorable event was called a “S’perience,” and I was called “Gurtchitt” (not Gretchen). Initially, I tried to correct Studie but it didn’t work. He kept insisting that he was repeating my name as I told it to him: “Gurtchitt.” Then out of curiosity, I informally introduced Studie to my friend, Doug Topper, a speech therapist. Doug explained that Studie’s speech was just fine, and he was indeed repeating what he heard. The creative translation was taking place between his ears and his brain. Bottom-line: I was Gurtchitt whether I liked it or not.
The second thing you noticed about Studie was that he was always on the go –- initially by bike, then by foot. In his biking years, Studie could be seen as often in Bryant Pond and Locke Mills as in Bethel. He would often bike down to visit my parents on East Bethel Road (now Intervale Road), stopping by for a cup of coffee and as many homemade cookies as my mother would put on the plate. His biking years came to an abrupt end when he took a terrible spill at the foot of Hunt’s Corner Hill. “You won’t believe want happened to me, Gurtchitt,” he recalled, “I was minding my own business and biking down the hill when a bolt of lightning came out of the sky and knocked me to the ground.” Minding his own business and lightning bolts would become recurring themes in Studie’s life. After he recuperated, Studie took to walking all around Bethel, and I sometimes wish I had thought to attach a pedometer to his pant leg.
The third and most important thing you noticed about Studie was his fierce loyalty to family and friends. No matter what others said or did when having a bad day, Studie was there for the long-haul. He was proud to work in the woods as part of his family heritage, and carried his honorary Bethel Fireman’s Badge with pride. He held his friends dear and never forgot a face or a name, even when many months passed between visits. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, "The Tipping Point," Studie would be aptly described as a “connector” -- one of those handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack for making friends and acquaintances. With Studie’s passing, the Bethel community has lost a great connector – and one of its best friends.