The Tunnels

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The heating tunnels that honeycomb the Reed property have also been the setting for various legends. The story of an idealistic young philosophy professor sheltering persecuted Japanese American civilians in the tunnels during the Second World War may be only partly true. In days past, it was a big thing to try to sneak into the tunnels. Those who succeeded were invariably disappointed by how truly drab and unspectacular the tunnels turned out to be, except for the gnome imageone year when about 200 garden gnomes, rumored to have been snatched off lawns throughout greater Portland, were amassed there with the tacit collusion of some of the physical plant employees. In one part of the tunnels is a large, high-ceilinged area overlooked by a catwalk with a railing. As the story goes, someone who wintered down there used to stand above the assembled garden gnome "army" and scream gibberish at them, like a dictator on a balcony. Occasionally these rantings would filter through the tunnel system and emerge faintly from heating vents in Eliot classrooms. One theory was that it was the ghost of Neal Cassady or Jack Kerouac.

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