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

Most photos from the web site:

Friday, April 3, 2015

A Library in the Cemetery

Krems Jewish Cemetery
Cemeteries are inspiring places, full of history and culture, but there’s one near Krems, Austria that also offers knowledge, in the form of books.

The Open Public Library
The Jüdischer Friedhof Krems  - the Krems Jewish Cemetery - was founded in 1853 among the local vineyards. During WWII, the cemetery came close to being obliterated by the Nazis. Today, it has been restored and is home to The Open Public Library - a library consisting of three bookshelves, where books may be borrowed or added to for others to read.

Books Ready for Reading
The idea of a library as a memorial came from artists Michael Cleg and Martin Guttmann in 2004. They wanted a way to memorialize over 100 local Jews who were killed or exiled from Krems during the war.  The men said that the library was a way for the community to remember those who were lost and also a way to make the cemetery more inviting to the public.

Metal Ribbon
Ribbon and Bookcases
In 1995, the cemetery was finally restored. Near the three bookshelves stands a 140-foot metal ribbon on which 129 names are inscribed, these are the Jews that were killed or exiled from Krems. 

Knowledge: what a fitting tribute to those who were persecuted by the Third Reich.

~ Joy