Friday, May 22, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend and a Hearse Cruise

It is Memorial Day weekend – a time when we remember those who died fighting for our country. Maybe you have a trip planned to a local cemetery for a Memorial Day service, or to, as my grandmother called it, “decorate the graves.”

Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous
Of course this is the “first weekend of summer” giving us a chance to get out and go to a festival, a wine tasting, or a battle. But here is an option that I’d love to see, if only it were closer …

If you are of “a certain age,” you will remember those Friday and Saturday nights during your high school years when you cruised the local hot-spots in town. For those of us in the cemetery world, cruising is still popular, only this time it’s in a hearse!

This Memorial Day weekend, the Second Annual Northern Michigan Hearse Cruise will take place. Starting off from Gaylord, Michigan around 9 a.m., the cruise will travel to Mancelona and stop for two hours to visit with locals and allow folks to see the cars, then it’s on to Kalkaska for another two hour visit before ending at Traverse City Saturday evening.

Those taking part in this cruise include funeral directors, cemetery personnel and those who just love the vehicle. Drivers come from across the U.S. to spend some time with like-minded people who appreciate the hearse and its history. What another cool way to spend the weekend.

Whatever you do, have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend!

~ Joy

Friday, May 15, 2015

Putting Lyme Disease in the Limelight

We are well into the spring and in my region of the country the ticks seem to be more numerous this year. While most people consider those creepy crawly blood-suckers to be a nuisance, they can actually be devastatingly worse – spreading Lyme disease, a complex, chronic illness that many times is not properly diagnosed.

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month; the perfect time to share information about this under-reported and poorly recognized disease that can disable causing arthritis, Bell’s palsy, radiculoneuropathy, meningitis, encephalitis, and in rare cases, cardiac arrest.

Deer Tick
Lyme disease was first noticed in the U.S. in 1975 when children in Lyme, Connecticut started showing signs of what doctors’ thought was rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers identified the spiral-shaped bacteria in 1982 and realized that it was spread by the bite of the blacklegged deer tick. (Lyme disease is not transmitted from person to person.)

Bulls-eye Rash
Symptoms flare up about a month after the initial bite and include inflammation around the tick bite that may itch, or not; the telltale bulls-eye rash is not always present. In fact, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, only three out of 10 people will exhibit the bulls-eye pattern. Flu-like symptoms are usually reported – headache, low-grade fever, muscle aches and fatigue.

Unfortunately, Lyme disease can mimic several other illnesses like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, so misdiagnosis often occurs. Lyme disease affects the heart, joints, nervous system and skin. If not treated, the symptoms will flair up again within the next six months. One in 10 people develop abnormalities of the heart but the majority do recover. About 10% of patients experience neurological problems.

The third stage of Lyme disease can occur from five months to five years after the bite and usually affects large joints like the knees and hips. Death can occur from Lyme disease. This chart from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows the number of deaths that have occurred in the U.S. from Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), another tick-borne disease, from 2002 through 2007.

Lyme disease has been recorded in all 50 states in the U.S., but is most prevalent in the northeastern part of the country. This map indicates the number of reported cases from 1990 to 2013. 

The worst areas affected include New York with over 100,000 cases reported within the past 23 years; Pennsylvania has had almost 77,000 cases; Connecticut reported almost 62,0000 cases, and New Jersey has had over 59,000 cases. The Midwest is also being affected, especially in Wisconsin with almost 29,000 cases, and Minnesota with just over 19,000 cases reported.

The top 15 states battling Lyme disease are shown on this 2013 diagram. Lyme disease is not just a rural problem, anywhere there is tall grass or woodsy areas; think your local park, walking trails or nature preserves, ticks can reside. Urban areas are not “safe” zones.

Lyme disease is on the rise in Canada, largely because public awareness, diagnosis and treatment have not been adequate. The first Canadian case of Lyme disease was recorded in 1977 when a southwestern Ontario girl was diagnosed with the disease, but Canadian officials have been slow to release the actual numbers of those suffering from the disease.

Lyme disease has been reported in over 80 other countries including Europe, Japan, China and Australia.

The best way to avoid getting Lyme disease is prevention.

• Wear light colored clothing so that you can see ticks
• Use an insect repellent that contains DEET
• Do a full body check after coming in from outside on yourself, your children and your pets

If you’ve been outside all day, head to the shower within two hours of coming inside and check for ticks. Something to keep in mind when you wander the cemeteries this summer.

Next Saturday night, May 23, at 10 p.m. Eastern time,  Niagara Falls will turn green for 15 minutes as a way to put Lyme Disease in the ”limelight” and help raise awareness about this illness.
~ Joy

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

6 Drinking Phrases and What They Mean

Wine has been with us for centuries so it stands to reason that sayings or phrases involving wine would crop up in our vocabulary. Here are six well known drinking phrases, how they came about, and what they mean.

1) Boozing It Up
The word booze (bouse) has been around since medieval times. The term means to drink a lot of alcohol, especially whiskey or other high alcohol spirits. Some one who is said to be “boozing it up” is drinking in excess. In Australia, a drinking binge is known as a boozeroo.

Pope Clement VI

2) Drunk as a Pope
This phrase is based on the conduct of Pope Clement VI who was selected to serve as Pope at the conclave of 1342. The Pope quickly became well known for his lavish lifestyle, and his inability to curb his drinking. When he died in 1352, the Pope’s reputation was of "a fine gentleman, a prince munificent to profusion, a patron of the arts and learning, but no saint."

3) Off the Wagon

To fall "off the wagon" means to resume drinking after having stopped. The origins of the word actually do relate to wagons – water wagons. At the turn of the 20th century, abstinence was sweeping the country and many men had “taken the pledge” (not to drink.) Instead, they said they were on the water wagon, or water cart; meaning they were drinking water not liquor. If someone began drinking again it was said that he had fallen “off the wagon.

4) The Bitter End
Bottle Sediment
This phrase usually describes reaching the limit of a person’s abilities or efforts, but it also can reference wine. For thousands of years, vino was stored in clay vessels where the sour lees (a sediment made up of dead yeast and other particles) would eventually fall from the wine to the bottom of the container. When emptying the vat, these dregs could end up being poured into a cup, and someone could find themselves drinking “the bitter end.”

5) Three Sheets to the Wind

This is actually a sailing phrase referring to the chains or ropes that control the angle of a boat’s sails. If the sheets, or ropes were loose, the boat would become unsteady or tipsy. (The actual phrase was three sheets in the wind.) To be "three sheets to the wind" indicates someone who is extremely drunk and unsteady on their feet.

6) To Your Health
The custom of offering a toast before drinking can be traced back to ancient religious rites involving the Greeks and Romans who offered wine to their gods at feasting events. These customs evolved into today’s ritual of wishing your drinking partners a long life, or raising a glass “to your health.

So “Here’s mud in your eye,” “Here’s to you,” and “Cheers!”

~ Joy

Friday, May 1, 2015

Lincoln's Funeral - 150 Years Later

One hundred fifty years ago this week, President Lincoln’s funeral train was making stops across the country as it bore the slain president’s body back to the city he loved: Springfield Illinois.

The “Lincoln Special” traveled 1,654 miles across the country from April 21, 1865 when the President’s body left Washington D.C. until its final arrival in Springfield, Illinois on May 4th.

Original Route
The original train stopped in 180 cities and towns throughout seven states in order to give the country a chance to mourn Lincoln’s passing. At each stop, his coffin was removed from the train and lay in state for public viewing. The train traveled the reverse route Lincoln had taken when he left Springfield to take his place as President of the United States in 1861.

A Nation Mourns
Lincoln’s train pulled in to the Springfield depot on Wednesday, May 3rd. The next day, Lincoln, along with the remains of his son Willie, who had died of typhoid fever in 1862, were interred in Oak Ridge Cemetery.

To commemorate this historic event, this week, a replica of the funeral train has recreated the journey from Washington D.C. to stops in 15 cities and town before arriving in Springfield today, May 1st.

Original Hearse Procession
This weekend, several events are planned. Tomorrow, May 2nd, a re-enactment of the hearse procession will travel from the depot to the old Illinois State House for the opening ceremonies. The day will conclude with civil war-era band concerts and a candlelight vigil to be held throughout the night at the State House grounds.

The historic procession to the cemetery will be held on Sunday, May 3rd accompanied by re-enactors from around the country. The same eulogy, speeches and salutes will be given once again in Oak Ridge Cemetery, along with the original music played at the ceremony in 1865.
What fitting tributes for a President whose death had the effect of pulling the nation back together after a bitter war that had ripped the nation apart.

~ Joy

Friday, April 24, 2015

Adopt A Cemetery Plot

Cemetery staff are known for being innovative; putting ideas out there to entice the community to spend time in one of the most historical and cultural places in the area, and one great idea I’ve always appreciated is “adopt-a-plot.”

Cemetery Crew
The concept is brilliant: get the community involved in helping revitalize the cemetery, one plot at a time. Involvement usually requires a one or two year period of time where you agree to care for an assigned plot (or plots) according to cemetery guidelines.

The work usually involves light maintenance such as clearing weeds, raking leaves, picking up sticks, tidying graves, maybe mowing and edging, and letting management know if a stone has been damaged, or gone missing.

Many times, volunteers will take on several plots at once, maybe working on family plots or those that bear a family surname. Some volunteers request plots that have a special significance like the graves of pioneers, or graves from the 1950s. The main criterion is that volunteers be diligent and dependable.

And when someone adopts a plot to care for, this could lead to more community and historical endeavors. Maybe it will spur someone’s interest in tracing their genealogy; learning more about cemetery preservation; researching the community founders and putting together a book, a tour, or a historical webpage on their findings. The possibilities are exciting and endless.

What a great way to help preserve local history, learn more about your community and help ensure that our dead are respected and not forgotten.

~ Joy

Friday, April 17, 2015

Remembering WWII Correspondent Ernie Pyle

War Correspondent Ernie Pyle
He was one of the best-known columnists of WWII and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. Ernie Pyle was known as a “fox-hole” war correspondent; one who traveled with the troops. He wrote his columns in a folksy-Hoosier style that endeared him to readers the world over.

Ernest Taylor Pyle was born on August 3, 1900 to tenant farmers William Clyde Pyle and Maria Taylor near Dana, Indiana. Pyle grew up in Indiana and attended Indiana University. He quit school with only one semester remaining to take a job at a Laporte, Indiana newspaper.

Ernie and Jerry Pyle
In 1925 Pyle married Geraldine Siebolds and the next year, quit his desk job to travel America. He and “Jerry” traveled over 9,000 miles before he headed back to The Washington Daily Newspaper. In 1928 he became the first aviation columnist, interviewing Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh.

Pyle became the managing editor of the Washington paper in 1932 but had to take a leave of absence two years later, due to the flu. It was during this time that he began writing columns. The columns were so successful that the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain offered him a deal to write a national column. Pyle quit his editing job and took to the road again, this time to write columns about the interesting people and unique places he found along the way.

Pyle with Soldiers
With the beginning of WWII, Pyle became a war correspondent in the European Theater, offering a glimpse of the day-to-day life of the American soldier. Pyle was what we now call an “embedded journalist”; he lived and traveled alongside these soldiers, getting to know them and going into battle with them. One of his most read and reprinted columns, “The Death of Captain Waskow,” later inspired the documentary The Battle of San Pietro and a motion picture, The Story of G.I. Joe.

Pyle covered the war from the frontlines in France, Italy, Sicily and North Africa. His columns appeared in over 400 daily newspapers and 300 weekly papers.

It was thanks to Pyle’s column in 1944 in which he urged Congress to give soldiers fighting pay that a bill was passed giving combat soldiers and airmen $10 a month of extra pay. The bill was named “The Ernie Pyle Bill.”

By the spring of 1945, Pyle was covering the Navy in the Pacific Theatre. On April 18 Pyle and several other men were traveling along the beach on Ie Shima Island located northwest of Okinawa Island when Japanese guns began firing at them. The men abandoned the vehicle they were traveling in and jumped into a ditch for shelter. When there was a lull in the shooting, Pyle looked out of the ditch to make sure everyone had made it in, that’s when a bullet struck him in the left temple. He was 44-years-old.

Ernie Pyle was buried with his helmet on in a row of graves among other soldiers killed on the island. Representatives from the Army, Navy and Marines were all present for the 10-minute funeral.  Pyle was remembered by President Harry Truman, and many generals, including Gen. Dwight D Eisenhower and Gen. George C. Marshall, as a rare and dignified correspondent and an enlisted man’s best friend. Pyle’s body was later moved to the Army cemetery on Okinawa and once again relocated to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

~ Joy

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Irreverent Comedian - Sam Kinison

He was a comedian for the times: a man whose sense of humor was considered by some to be out-of-bounds, harsh and politically incorrect.  For others, Sam Kinison was known as the “Wild Thing of Comedy" with a worldwide reputation as a party animal.

A Young Sam Kinison
Kinison with His Brothers and Mother
Samuel Burl Kinison was born on December 8, 1953 to Samuel E. and Marie Kinison and grew up in Peoria, Illinois.  Kinison’s father was a Pentecostal minister who continually moved from church to church. Sam was the youngest of four brothers, all who followed in their father’s footsteps and became Pentecostal preachers.

The Young Preacher
Young Comedian
Kinison began his fire and brimstone style of preaching when he was 17 and continued until he was 24. It took a divorce to make him realize that he was not cut out for the ministry, but would be much happier as a stand up comedian. He took to the stage in Houston, Texas and then moved on to L.A. where he developed a cocaine habit that would plague him most of his life.

Sam & Rodney
Kinison On Stage
In the summer of 1985, Kinison got his big break on HBO’s Rodney Dangerfield’s Ninth Annual Young Comedians Special.  His irreverent style and screaming outbursts on religion, relationships and drugs was always punctuated with his primal scream. Kinison’s brand of comedy was more intense and in-your-face than most comedians were willing to go, but Sam didn’t appear to care if the audience liked him or not, which is why audience’s loved him.

Kinison had appeared in several films, television specials, and MTV videos, and had been a guest on “Late Night with David Letterman” and a host for “Saturday Night Live.” He also appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine.

Kinison was married three times; the third marriage had taken place just six days before his death. Most of his stand up material about relationships came from the ups and downs of his first two marriages. Kinison had just reached the peak of his celebrity when his life was cut short.

Milika and Sam
On April 10, 1992, Kinison and his new wife, Milika Sourir, were headed from California to Laughlin, Nevada where he was scheduled to perform at a sold-out show. Kinison was driving on U.S. Route 95 when his 1989 Trans Am was struck head-on by a pick-up driven by 17-year-old Troy Pierson, who reportedly had been drinking. 

Kinison died within moments of the collision. According to his brother, Bill who was following behind Kinison’s car with a van-load of equipment, Sam didn’t appear to be seriously hurt: he was able to get out of the car and lie down on the pavement. Then in what appeared to bystanders as a conversation with someone, Sam began asking, "Why now? I don't want to die. Why?"  After a few seconds Kinison was heard to reply, “Okay, okay, okay …” He died moments later.

Sam Kinison

Sam Kinison was 38 years old. He is buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in Tulsa, Oklahoma. On his grave marker is the inscription, "In another time and place he would have been called prophet."

~ Joy

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