Monday, February 8, 2010

The Wingless Angels The Myth And The Mystery


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Yesterday I posted a photo of a sticker on a library door, for The Wingless Angels, a secret society in Granville Ohio that has been active for over 100 years. I have been told repeatedly there is no such group and my experiences in Granville were my imagination. For my loyal readers I will print at least one article about them that makes me feel better about all that happened to me (jailed and institutionalized) and my hypothesis that they may have been involved in murdering my friend Bob Bueler who worked as a pizza delivery man in Granville in 1987. This is from The Denisonian February 5, 2008 written by Gail Martineau. One can only assume it was right on time for Black History Month!

Secret college societieshave existed longer than many U.S. universities.

For example, Yale's Skull and Bones society was founded in 1832 and touts an impressive group of alumni that include George W. Bush and John Kerry.

But despite their long and colorful histories, little is known about these mysterious and mystical organizations that rule the underground realms of campuses.

The Wingless Angels, Denison's own attempt at the ivy-league tradition, have been around for over a century, founded in 1905 with roots in the Ku Klux Klan.

But during those years, there has only been a handful of information collected about the group (literally, three manila folders worth) that says they exist to "right the wrongs of Denison."

Associate Professor of English Fred Porcheddu has made the elusive group a hobby ever since he graduated from Denison in 1987.

Over the years, he's gathered information from the archives as well as from students and alumni who give him memorabilia.

His extensive research and intrigue has led Porcheddu to be able to speculate on the past, present and future of the Wingless Angels.

A general profile of the Wingless Angels consists of anywhere from 6 to 15 men. Most, if not all, members were white and members of fraternities such as Beta Theta Pi, Phi Gamma Delta or Kappa Sigma, Porcheddu infers from his research.

He also said that the group is traditionally made up of seniors and one junior, who continues the tradition for the following year.

When the Angels do make an appearance, they tend to wear hooded sweatshirts and masks. One member of the group usually wears a different color sweatshirt, which Porcheddu suggests is the Wielder of the Knotty Knob, the leader of the group.

Much of this is known, because the Angels used to reveal themselves each year in the school yearbook. They stopped doing this in 1984.

In a five-page fact sheet Porcheddu has put together for others interested in the topic, he posits there are three different "classes" of the group. Each class can be characterized by their morals and actions, and each is quite different from the others.

The first class, which Porcheddu explains existed between 1905 and 1917, was mainly established to combat the prohibition of alcohol in Granville. The overall feelings toward the group of men involved were good hearted.

Class two, existing from 1947 to 1984, had the longest reign and also was the most like other secret societies of its kind. This group concentrated on playing pranks on other students, especially women. The men involved were upstanding citizens of the Denison community, Porcheddu said.

But the third class is what got the English professor interested.

As a student during the time of this particular reign (starting in 1984), he said he was fascinated by the idea that a historically docile group could turn bad, even evil, some may say.

Classified by hateful and violent attacks, the third class staged attacks on faculty members and other students in the Denison community. They were a group to be feared, Porcheddu said.

"I've tried to figure out why it happened, but for whatever reason the chief goal of the group changed substantially in about 1984 from pranks to abuse," he said in his fact sheet.

Porcheddu said he thinks it's frightening that a person could be one way during the day, and another way with a mask on.

"It makes me so angry that someone could have two sides like that," he said.

But now, Porcheddu said he thinks the tide may be changing - again.

"I think we're staring a fourth class," he said. "The past is consciously being undone. It's too early to say for sure."

This fourth class, he said, seems to be trying to rectify the wrongs of the past members during the 1980s and early 1990s.

In the last few years, the group has let pigs loose in a dining hall, burned their logo into a Denison field and published numerous pamphlets.

It is also speculated that they released a letter during the protests last November applauding the students and deriding the administration for inaction. The letter was not signed.

Though he may be interested, Porcheddu said he is definitely not impressed by the group, that he said does not even begin to compare with secret societies at other universities such as Yale.

"It's amateurish," he said. "You show me one positive change they've made. Show me one wrong that they've righted."

Perhaps "amateurish" is not a strong enough word for people who commit hate crimes and possibly even murder.

4 comments:

thequixotickat said...

I started Denison this year, and already the Wingless "Angels" have scattered glass on the steps outside of my dorm and set a dorm room on fire.

skymetalsmith said...

I recently read a book called The Chocolate War. In the book, the school had a secret society called The Vigils. The whole time I was reading the book I thought of how similar the vigils were to the wingless angels. Luck to you the quizotikat. "keep your lamps trimmed and burning".

Lance Dildine said...

I was in the Saga Cafeteria in 193 or 1984 when about 5-6 Wingless Angel members showed up wearing hoodies and masks and had bags of mice that they started picking up by the tails and whipping them at people. Everyone jumped up on the tables screaming their heads off. It was the most glorious pandemonium I had ever witnessed.

skymetalsmith said...

Glorious Pandemonium?