Thanksgiving weekend saw a rash of burglaries in Burlington's Old North End. Among the victims was Ben Hardy, a Seven Days freelance music critic, who returned from a ten-day vacation last week to find his house had been broken into and burglarized.
The thieves got away with a veritable studio's worth of musical items, including five guitars, two amps, a sound system and a turntable, as well as some clothing. But they also made off with something invaluable and irreplaceable: A Fender Telecaster signed by the members of Pearl Jam, given to Hardy's late older brother, Joshua, when he was a teenager.
In 1991, when he was 16, Joshua Hardy was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. The following year, he was granted a wish by the Make-A-Wish Foundation to meet his favorite Seattle grunge bands. The MAWF flew the entire family from Durham, NH to Seattle. On the rooftop of Sup Pop Records' downtown Emerald City offices, the Hardys hung out with, well, a who's who of great grunge bands, including 7 Year Bitch, Love Battery, TAD, the Fastbacks, Monkey Wrench, Truly, the Young Fresh Fellows, Gas Huffer, Kill Sybil, Steel Wool and some dudes called Soundgarden. Later, the Posies took Josh record shopping. The following day, he chilled out with Nirvana. (He also spent time with Bill Gates. How grunge is that?)
But unquestionably, the highlight of the trip was receiving the signed Tele from Pearl Jam. Joshua Hardy died a few months later.
Following his death, Josh's parents hung onto the guitar. Last spring, they entrusted it to his younger brother so it could be played every day, which Ben says is exactly what Josh would have wanted.
"Now that guitar is gone," says Ben. "It's worth more to me and my family than anything else in the world."
Last week, Burlington police arrested a suspect in the Thanksgiving week burglary spree, David Verge, 32. Verge is accused of burglarizing as many as nine homes during that time. But he's not a suspect in Hardy's case, according to BPD detective James Trieb, the investigating officer in the Verge case.
Trieb notes that an uptick in burglaries around the holidays is typical, but that the Thanksgiving spree is still unusual. "There were many, many more burglaries in Burlington that week," he says.
Anyone with info regarding Hardy's guitar is encouraged to contact the BPD (658-2704) or to email this writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WCAX also ran a story about Hardy last night.