Support for me writing Kenyon Conspiracy Theories comes from The Thrill. Visit https://thekenyonthrill.com/?s=Kenyon+Conspiracy+Theories for a list of other episodes in this series.
So here’s what we know. At some point in Kenyon’s past, most likely some time after 1980 when Agnew’s book was released, someone wrote “Agnew was framed” in a study carrel. That person was probably around 5’8” judging by the angle at which the message was written, and how it was written kind of sloppily…
I kept coming back to that word: recognition. It was what seemed to drive all of [Spiro] Agnew’s actions, and if you think about it, it might have been what the student was looking for when they wrote “Agnew was framed” in scratchy black pen…
[Lady Gertrude] Agnew was painted while sitting in an 18th century French bergère, and according to reports from Wikipedia, the painting brought Lady Agnew more than a little bit of prestige. So much prestige, in fact, that it only makes sense: Lady Agnew of Lochnaw was framed.
From the Kenyon Thrill and the Third Floor in Olin Library, it’s Kenyon Conspiracy Theories, one story told month by month. And this, episode 4, is the final episode. It’s been a semester since I first discovered Agnew in a study carrel on the second floor of the library, and I still think about it whenever I sit down to procrastinate on work. Still thinking that there’s gotta be some sort of feasible conclusion as to why someone would write something so potentially spurious, so strange, that maybe it had to be true.
Over the past few months I have been holding up bits and pieces of information that try and point toward the motive behind writing “Agnew was framed” on Kenyon property. Today, I’m just going to lay out the rest of the evidence. I’ve talked to some experts, received messages from wild speculators, and even stumbled on to a few leads over Send Off weekend. Seeing as it’s finals week and I’m quickly running out of time, let’s just put it all out there, and see what the case shapes up to in the end.
First off, I’m going to let you down a little. But don’t worry! If following this graffiti scribble has taught me anything, it’s that the night is always darkest before the dawn, and things always seem to change in the blink of an eye. Just when you think there’s no going further, we will pick back up again. Trust me.
For starters, there’s this whole bit about Lady Agnew and her portrait that was rejected from the Henry Clay Frick Foundation. I mentioned last time that I was going to bring in some experts, and here’s what they say:
Elena Brush is a senior Art History major, and at the time of our interview she had just finished her comps test. This means that she would have known an important framed painting when she saw one. I showed her my photo of the “Agnew was framed” scribble, but she couldn’t make heads or tails of it:
Other people I asked were either equally as unsure about Lady Agnew of Lochnaw:
or else they were wildly speculative to the point of absurdity:
…You get the picture. Anyway, around mid-April, after months of getting nothing from friends and experts, I found this on the Peeps’ bathroom wall in Old Kenyon:
Why George W. Bush? Why this wall? If it’s true that people are writing whatever President happens to come to their mind on walls and surfaces all over campus, then I have no idea what’s going on here…do I?
Just as the trail of breadcrumbs seemed to be getting too thin to follow anymore, I heard from Elena again:
Finally, I know that I said I would mention Ol’ Blue Eyes, and I’m sorry to say that he turned out to be another Red Herring in a sea of graffiti’d walls.
So, where does this leave us? Now that we’ve been down the rabbit hole and back, I want you to think back to Vice President Spiro Agnew. Remember all that stuff I said, about reputation, or recognition? That Spiro Agnew was more preoccupied with his reputation than he was with any actual innocence. That maybe some Kenyon student wrote on the study carrel wall because they wanted to leave their mark while they working on finals, or comps, or job applications.
To the extent that this can be considered a “Whodunnit” caper, I’m sorry to say that we cannot definitively say who wrote that sentence on that wall, or who wrote George W. Bush on the Peeps’ bathroom stall wall, or who wrote “Nixon was an above average president” on the first floor of Olin Library. In fact, perhaps the whole point of a conspiracy is that it has no real end.
In an article written after Vice President Agnew’s death in 1996 in the New York Times, an old retired friend of Agnew admitted that he was more defensive that he got caught than because he had been wrongly accused: ”I never mentioned his earlier life, but then one day, he said to me: ‘Herb, you never asked me about the past. Why?’ I said to him, ‘You know, Ted, you paid for your mistakes.’ He said that everything he did, other people did. The only difference was that he got caught.”
A big thank you to Elena, Trixie, Allen (my dad), my roommates, Sarah Koenig, my professors, Jack Quigley, Peirce dining, Wiggin Street Coffee, Mrs. Lindsay, and everyone else who helped make this project possible.