Friday, November 30, 2012

Tiny Tim's Tiptoe Through the Tulips of Life

Tiny Tim
Tiny Tim, known for playing the ukulele and singing songs in a falsetto voice, was regarded by many as a novelty act of the sixties. He has been called eccentric, unique, and bizarre for his style of music and persona.

Butros and Tillie Khaury
Tiny Tim was born as Herbert B. Khaury in New York City on April 12, 1932 to Butros Khaury, a textile worker, and Tillie (Staff) Khaury, a garment worker.

Greenwich Village
Herbert Khaury
He grew up in New York, displaying musical talent at a young age.  When he discovered the music of the early 1900’s, he began performing it.  In 1952, he started singing in falsetto and performing under the name of Larry Love. He made his performing debut at a cabaret called Page 3 in Greenwich Village.  In 1962, he began using the name Tiny Tim after casting aside such names as Darry Dover, Vernon Castle, and Larry Love.  At a height of 6’1” the name drew attention.  He continued to perform in Greenwich Village, building a cult following for his unique musical style.

Tiny Tim on Laugh-In
Tiptoe Through the Tulips
His big break came in 1967 when he appeared on Rowen and Martin’s variety show, Laugh-In.  He sang A Tisket A Tasket and On the Good Ship Lollipop while accompanying himself on a soprano ukulele. On his third visit to the show he sang what was to become his theme song, Tiptoe Through the Tulips.

Sixties Crowd
First Album
Tiny Tim developed a cult following and became a true icon of the sixties.  He released his first album, God Bless Tiny Tim in 1968.  He said the album name was a reference to Charles Dickens' “A Christmas Carol.”  The album sold over 200,000 copies and reached the Top 20.

For All My Little Friends
In 1969, he recorded a collection of children’s song on the album, For All My Little Friends, which was nominated for a Grammy.

With Vickie Budinger
Married on the Tonight Show
On December 17, 1969, in front of 45 million viewers of the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Tiny Tim married Miss Vicki  - his seventeen-year-old girlfriend, Victoria Mae Budinger. They had one child, in 1971, a daughter named Tulip Victoria.  The couple lived apart for most of their marriage, divorcing eight years later. 

Great American Circus
At the height of his popularity, Tiny Tim performed on the Jackie Gleason and Ed Sullivan shows.  He played in front of 600,000 people at the Isle of Wight festival in 1970.   As quickly as his popularity rose, it began to wane.  His last appearance on the Tonight Show was during the summer of 1979.  During the eighties, he performed with Roy Radin’s Vaudeville Revue, and toured with the Great American Circus for seven months.

Jan and Tim
In 1984, he married again, this time to Jan Alweiss Kaury, known as Miss Jan.  He preferred to live alone, so he and his wife lived in neighboring houses and would visit each other.  They divorced in 1995.

Tiny Tim continued to perform and release albums, his last being Girl in 1996.  He now sang in his normal baritone voice. The only song he continued to sing in falsetto was his signature song, Tiptoe Through the Tulips.

In 1995, Tiny Tim married Susan Marie Gardner, known as Miss Sue.  They lived in Minneapolis.

Before the show with Fred Fallin
In September 1996, Tiny Tim was performing at a ukulele festival in Montague, Massachusetts, when he suffered a heart attack.  He was hospitalized at the local medical center for three weeks.  When released he was told not to perform again. The stress of a live performance would be too risky on his heart.

Woman's Club of Minneapolis
Disregarding doctor’s orders, Tiny Tim took to the stage for a Gala Benefit at the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis on November 30, 1996.  He suffered another heart attack on stage and died at the Hennepin County Medical Center. He was 64 years old.

Tiny Tim's Crypt
Lakewood Mausoleum
Tiny Tim was interred in a mausoleum in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was laid to rest with his ukulele and a single tulip.

~ Joy

As an aside – I had the opportunity to meet Tiny Tim and interview him for a radio program in 1985.  He was very polite and cordial, maintaining a wispy, falsetto voice throughout the interview.  And, yes, he brought his ukulele and sang Tiptoe Through the Tulips

Friday, November 23, 2012

Indigent Burials

(Indigent as defined by, “lacking food, clothing, and other necessities of life because of poverty; needy; poor; impoverished.)

As we approach December, the weather becomes colder.  This means that many indigent people without adequate shelter and lodging will face sever hardships, some even death. 

The most common causes of indigent deaths are due to poor health or exposure to the elements, especially in the winter.  Other causes include disease, drugs or alcohol, and violence.
What happens when a person who is considered to be indigent dies without the where-with-all to plan or pay for a funeral?  It depends on where they die. Usually the county, town, or township where they have died will handle the details.

Financial Forms
Qualifications for indigent burials vary, again, depending on where the death occurred.  Most counties or states will require that proof of financial hardship be provided, along with other documentation such as bank statements, pay stubs, motor vehicle, and real estate records. 

If the indigent person is homeless, the coroner’s office, or a local hospital may conduct a search to try and locate family. Since the homeless usually carry everything they own with them, many times a social worker’s name, or that of a family member or friend may be found among their possessions. 

Other forms pertaining to any government assistance, Veteran’s benefits, or Social Security may help to identify the deceased and locate relatives.  If there are no leads, an investigation may research local missing persons to see if there is a match with the deceased.

A "Potter's Field"
Depending on where the person dies, an indigent may be transferred to a medical school for research or dissection education, cremated, or given a basic burial in the local Potter’s Field.   

Particle Board Coffin
If an in-ground burial is given, it will typically include embalmment of the body, and placement in a burial box, usually made of particle board – wood scraps and sawdust glued together. The deceased’s name is written on top of the box, if it is known.  A Committal Prayer may be said at the graveside before burial. A numbered, metal stake will be placed at the grave, since headstones are usually not provided.

Cemetery Backhoe
Mass Burials at Potters Field
When the indigent die in the city, there may be one day of each week that is designated for these burials.  The deceased will all be taken at the same time to the local cemetery’s Potter’s Field where the graves are dug and a backhoe waits to fill them in.

But there are places in this country where they are attempting to bury their homeless with some remaining dignity.

Louisville, Kentucky
One such area is in Louisville, Kentucky.  Students at Louisville Catholic schools, as well as the University of Louisville and Bellarmine University, are working with the Jefferson County’s Coroner’s office to help provide burial services for the indigent.  Students attend the graveside services, and some also volunteer to act as pallbearers.

The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office is the sponsor of a program that provides permanent markers for the indigent as a way to “acknowledge their time on earth.”   The program, known as “Be a Memory Maker,” raises money to purchase grave markers for the indigent, mentally ill, disabled, or disenfranchised who die in the community.  A grave marker costs around $300.  To find out more about the program, visit

Jefferson County Courthouse
If you would like to donate to the Be a Memory Maker program for the holidays, you can make your check payable, in any amount, to Be a Memory Maker and mail to:

Be A Memory Maker
Jefferson County Coroner’s Office
810 Barret Ave., 7th floor
County Coroner’s Office
Louisville, KY 40204

HFBA Burial
In New York, the Hebrew Free Burial Association makes arrangements for indigent and impoverished Jews in New York City to receive prompt, dignified funerals and burials.  The HFBA began in the 1880’s and is the largest free burial society outside of Israel.  They have provided over 60,000 burials since 1888. The HFBA owns two cemeteries on Staten Island: Mount Richmond Cemetery and Silver Lake Cemetery.  As many as 300 people receive free burials each year in consecrated Jewish earth.

HFBA Leave Your Mark Sponsers
HFBA Grave Markers
The HFBA also has a program, Leave Your Mark, which places simple permanent markets at unmarked graves in Mount Richmond Cemetery.  A grave marker costs $150.  To learn more about the HFBA and the Leave Your Mark program, visit

For those who were lonely, and alone, at the time of death, these small acts of compassion allow some dignity and respect to be paid to their memory.

~ Joy

Friday, November 16, 2012

Cemetery Responsibilities

Maintained Cemetery
Well Kept Cemetery
It’s a question that can be concerning, even confusing – Just who is responsible for a cemetery’s upkeep?  The answers depend on many factors but the bottom line usually appears to be as follows:

Property Tax Form
Whoever is paying the property taxes on the cemetery ground is the individual, corporation, or entity that is responsible for it.

Digging a Grave
Broken Stone
Traditionally, a cemetery’s responsibilities include the allotment and maintenance of the grounds used for burials, and for grave preparation. The family would be responsible for the care and repair of the tombstones.

Cemetery Owned By Bardstown
Charlotteville Cemetery
A cemetery can be owned by an individual, a corporation, a church, a town, a city, township, county, or state.  And the laws will differ depending on the group or government agency that owns a cemetery. 

Cemetery Owned by Indiana Town
In Indiana, if a township owns a cemetery, it must fence it, keep the ground level, keep the weeds down, and straighten leaning tombstones.  But, if a town, city, or county owns the cemetery, then Indiana has no laws that describe how the cemetery should be maintained or preserved.

Uncared for Cemetery
Church Cemetery
In South Carolina, state laws do not tackle the legal responsibilities for cemetery maintenance.  An active cemetery, one that is still being used for burials, should be maintained by its owners.  If the cemetery is private, such as a church, organization, or family cemetery, the owners should perform maintenance.  But many times these cemeteries are forgotten and abandoned.  Bottom line in South Carolina, the family and descendents are expected to care for the graves of their ancestors.

Cemetery Sign
Michigan tries to establish ownership of its cemeteries.  Historic cemeteries will have a sign posted that names the entity in charge of the property.  If a small cemetery has been abandoned in Michigan, it will become the property of the current landowner.

An Illinois Cemetery
The Illinois Cemetery Care Act states that there are two types of cemeteries in the state, licensed and exempt.  A licensed cemetery is owned by a for-profit group, and falls under the jurisdiction of the State Comptrollers Office.  That means the cemetery owner is responsible for the care of the cemetery, its lots, graves, mausoleums, memorials, and markers.

Exempt Cemetery
An exempt cemetery is one that is owned by a non-profit group.  The Illinois State Comptrollers Office does not have legal jurisdiction over these cemeteries.  However, “a cemetery maintenance district can be established by petitioning the county commission or township clerk for a tax levy to maintain and control the burial site.”  This would place the care of the cemetery upon the county’s government.  This also helps to lessen the abandonment of cemeteries when individuals and groups cannot or do not continue to care for them.

White Bronze Planter
Cemetery with a Lack of Funds
Cemeteries are abandoned or “die” because there is no one left to care for them.  This is usually the case in small family cemeteries and in private, church, or organizational cemeteries. 

Uncared for

A cemetery may also be abandoned because of lack of money.  If an older cemetery has reached capacity and has no perpetual care funds to assist with the maintenance of the grounds and stones, an owner may simply walk away and leave the site unattended, and uncared for.

County Courthouse
County Offices
Where should you go to locate the identity of a cemetery owner?  Many times an inquiry at the local town, village, city, township hall, or country clerks office will produce that name.  The County Recorder of Deeds or the County Assessors Office can also provide a legal description of the property.

As Benjamin Franklin so poignantly said, "Show me your burial grounds and I'll show you a measure of the civility of a community."  

It is indeed in our society's best interest to keep our cemeteries well maintained and cared for, for they are the annals of our past and our present, describing just who we were to future generations.

~ Joy

~ Joy