The universe viewed by Ives, Anderson, Vaghi
The Danbury Intellectual Club discussed possible life on other planets and meeting Danbury and Bethel celebrities.
When I moved from Vermont to Danbury, Charles Ives was alive and living in Redding. Thinking about life in our universe, he composed his “Universe Symphony.” I heard it performed in Carnegie Hall by the Nashville Symphony.
A New York Times music critic reported: “Of all the otherworldly sounds from composers, nothing quite matches the cosmic shudder of the opening of Ive’s “Universe Symphony” in which 19 percussionists and a piccolist, each playing in a different meter and at a different tempo, generate a swirling nebula of rhythm. The pulses converge every eight seconds marked by a tolling bell. In a few minutes, you are ready to believe that Ive’s bell has been sounding for billions of years.”
He received the Pulitzer Prize.
Codfish Hill in Bethel was one of the highpoints that was frequented by a UFO specialist, Dante Vaghi. Mister UFO was for years a legend in Bethel. Every night he scanned the sky with his telescope, seeing and reporting mysterious colored lights. He was a multi-talented man.
His daughter guided me on a tour of his UFO Museum. My camera recorded the different designs and shapes of the space ships and rockets he had built. His dream was to fly our solar system and the universe to contact and identify mysterious UFOs. The museum revealed a man on a mission.
My next tour was in Saint Peter’s Church in Danbury. Dante worked with metal, but in this church you can see that he was a fine Italian woodworker and craftsman. Beautiful chestnut wood panels he created because he was also a religious man.
During World War II, the Pentagon dispatched me to China, Burma, India and Africa. They sent Dante to Italy where they used his fluent command of the Italian language in numerous covert operations.
My last interview with this unique man was in Pope John Nursing Home in Danbury. His eyes lit up and his pupils dilated as he regaled me with the absolute pinnacle of his storied UFO career. Codfish Hill, 1:15 a.m. he heard a whirring rush of wind. A small space ship landed. Two small aliens stepped out and both lit a cigarette. Dante was paralyzed with emotion. His wildest dream had finally come to pass. He pulled himself together and blurted out in Italian and then English: “Why, why have you honored me with this visit?”
One of the extraterrestrials spoke in English with an accent that Dante never forgot. “We are not allowed to in the spaceship. We just stopped here to smoke.”
They snuffed out cigarettes, scampered into their ship and flew straight up like a helicopter!
Marian Anderson was my neighbor on Joe’s Hill in Danbury for 25 years. She viewed the universe as a gigantic heaven. When she sang spirituals — “Was you there when they crucified my Lord?” and “He’s got the whole world in His hands,” you realized why famed conductor Toscanni said, “A voice like hers appears once in a hundred years.”
From Adirondack chairs in her back yard, we had a view of her studio, which now resides at the Danbury Museum. A narrow musical brook flowed down through her land and under a cement barbecue. Then a dam created a swimming pool. She and Kind loved riding their horses around the 100-acre farm inspecting the sheep and a special breed of cattle imported from Spain. The bucolic setting was a far cry from her impoverished roots in Philadelphia. No one deserved it more. She was one of the brightest stars in our universe, blessed with an unforgettable vocal instrument.
C. Rodney Dow is a resident of Danbury.