Some people believe that Washington, D.C. contains more dedication plaques
than any other city in the world. In a town where it is common proctice
to name buildings, parks, traffic circles, bridges, fountains, and rooms
after former presidents, congressmen, senators and other prominent Americans,
it may very well be that Washington does lead the world in dedication
is seldom anything particularly unusual or controversial about an engraved
dedication plaque unless it becomes the subject of a bureaucratic
controversy the likes of which could only happen in the nations
several Department of Agriculture employees, disgruntled about the quality
of food served in the cafeteria of Agriculture Department Building, purchased
and installed a plaque dedicated the cafeteria as The Alferd Packer Memorial
Grill. At the dedication ceremony of the plaque, Agriculture Secretary
Bob Bergland said the case of Alferd E. Packer, "exemplifies the
spirit and the fare of this Agriculture Department cafeteria." However,
after finding out who Packer was, the General Services Administration,
which oversees the Agriculture building plaque, saying it was "in
bad taste". Here is the story they had learned.
1874, Packer had guided a group of five prospectors through the Rocky
Mountains of Colorado when the group was stranded for over 60 days by
a blizzard. When the weather finally improved, only Packer remained alive,
but this he had managed only by killing and eating his companions.
was tried for his crime of cannibalism, and the presiding judge was quoted
during the trial as saying, "There were only six Democrats in all
of Hinsdale County and you, you man-eating (expletive deleted), you ate
five of them. I sentence you to hang by the neck until youre dead,
dead, dead as a warning against further reducing the Democratic population
of the county."
this pronouncement, Packer was not hanged and in fact was paroled in 1901.
He died in a Denver suburb in 1907.
recent Packer dedication plaque was purchased for $29 by Bob Meyer and
Stan Weston of the Agriculture Department (with their own money) and then
donated to the U.S. Government. Therefore, when the plaque disappeared,
it was assumed to be theft of Government property a serious offense.
The Agriculture Department was preparing to call in the FBI to investigate
the crime when it was learned that it was the General Services Administration
who removed the plaque.
controversy over the installation and removal of the Alferd Packer memorial
plaque was further heightened when it was learned that the GSAs
regional office had given the Agriculture Department permission to mount
the plaque, and that building manager Melvin Schick had acted on his own
in removing it. It was Schick who felt the plaque was "in bad taste".
Meyer and Stan Weston, the donors of the plaque, disagreed and pointed
to the fact that a similar plaque was placed at the University of Colorado
(Boulder) grill in 1968 and is still there. The menu there includes Packerburgers
and Packersnackers. Packer is something of a folk hero in Colorado.
Alferd E. Packer memorial plaque is now on display in the office of the
Agriculture Departments Stan Weston. When asked where the plaque
will go from there, Weston replied, "We have had many requests (to
borrow it) from school and college government classes. What can better
illustrate the workings of government and bureaucracy than this engraved
reasons for plaques, trophies, and other awards are absolutely endless.
Though its beginning had such a somber aspect, this purposeful practical
joke shows yet another type of motivation for plaques, trophies, and other