The Fatal Shooting

Robert Vose, 16, and Irving Tier, 17, were classmates at the Silver Bay School, the private boys school that Silas and Mary Paine had established in 1918 in memory of their son, Harrington Spear Paine. In May of 1922, as the school year was coming to an end, Vose was interested in selling a revolver he owned to Tier, and was showing it to him in his room. He handed the gun to Tier and said, “Try it. It isn’t loaded.”

Taking the revolver, Tier asked Vose if he was sure the gun was empty. Vose reassured him it was; Tier pulled the trigger; the gun exploded and a bullet shot into Vose’s abdomen, piercing his intestines. The stricken boy was given hurried treatment at Silver Bay and rushed to the hospital in Ticonderoga.

Vose’s parents came from Boston, and it at first appeared that he was improving. Awake and alert, he told the story of how he came to be shot, took the blame and exonerated Tier. But two days into his recovery, he began to weaken, and soon died. His parents were at his bedside. After an autopsy, they returned to Boston on the train, with their son’s body.

“A cloud of gloom” descended over the school, Silver Bay and the surrounding community.

The local newspapers made no more mention of Irving Tier, but you can piece together his life from later accounts. An inheritance made working unnecessary. A family member noted that  Tier “tinkered” through life. He dabbled in photography and film-making. He collected guns, apparently the interest that brought the boys together that day in 1922, and one he did not abandon. He learned to fly. He owned a plane. In 1931, he married Nancy Hopkins, a pioneer in women’s aviation, whose accomplishments eclipsed his own. The couple had three children. For a time they kept a summer cottage at Silver Bay. Irving Tier died in 1978.

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