Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Legend of Doc Benton

A stylized illustration of an older, bearded man, cloaked but barefoot. In his hand is a syringe. A figure is laying haphazardly on his back in the background.
Illustration by Clinton Arrowood, '89
There are numerous evolving traditions that surround the first-year trips that are taking place this month at Dartmouth, many of them documented in the records of the Outing Club, housed here in Rauner. One is the storytelling tradition, specifically the story of  "Doc Benton." The Benton tale was told during the late-night gatherings of the first-years at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. This oral tradition had been taking place since "freshman trips" were first offered back in the 1930s and the Benton story is still told at the Lodge, although no longer at every first-year gathering.

The story goes that Thomas Benton was born in the mid-1700s in Benton, New Hampshire, a small hamlet located near the base of Mount Moosilauke. After receiving his medical education at the University of Heidelburg, Benton practiced for some years in London and Boston, but returned to Benton to set up his own medical practice. It was following his return to Benton that the terrifying legend begins. Each telling of the story brings variations, modifications and interpretations, provided by the individual narrator. In deference to the tradition of storytelling, further details will not be revealed here. However, suffice it to say that the legend of Doc Benton is seared forever into the minds of generations of Dartmouth first-years, especially those who have spent time on and in proximity to Mount Moosilauke. 

To learn more of the evil legend, come to Rauner and ask to see the vertical file labeled "Benton, Doc," and Clinton Arrowood's thesis entitled "The Legend of Doc Benton." You will never forget it...

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