Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Um, are you kidding me? Who the hell were these two?
I mean, come on, "Galluzzo" is the 27,676th most popular name in the United States. We're not exactly taking the country by storm. We're barely drizzling. But there they are, immigrants without birth dates, just death years.
And there are no Gabrielas nor Vincenzos in my particular strain of the family. But what a beautiful name Gabriela Galluzzo is. It's almost as if the sweetness of the first name hides the harshness of the surname. Almost like it was meant to be. I've often said that if my wife and I had a girl we'd go with Isabella Galluzzo. My wife has purposely had boys just to spite me. Of course, I also wanted a Methuselah Galluzzo and a Bruiser Galluzzo, but who's counting.
Gabby Galloo. Gotta love it.
Monday, April 29, 2013
When I first contemplated taking on this project, I envisioned asking my relatives for help. Not the living ones. I wanted the dead to talk to me. I wanted to see if there were any clues to my own future epitaph in the words used on those of my ancestors.
So I figured that at some point I would be running into some familiar names at St. Paul's Cemetery in Hingham. As far as ancestors go, only three generations prior to me ever set foot in the United States. After that, I suppose I'll have to go back to Italy, to Messina and Calabria, to complete my research.
Oh no. Not that. Don't make me go.
So with that notion in mind, I started my search, and very quickly found the first victim. Or at least I thought I did. Who the hell were Frank and Nunziata Galluzzo?
Now I know we don't own the copyright to the surname, but Galluzzos are few and far between (I mean, besides my cousin and uncle, the next John Galluzzo I know is my Buffalo counterpart). Could there have been a completely separate, unrelated Galluzzo family right here in Hingham? It's possible. When reaching the United States for the first time ethnic groups stuck together, and that goes all the way down to dialect and regional origin. For all I know Galluzzos were like Smiths over in Reggio a century ago.
Oh well. I guess there had to be one.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Charles L. Tibbetts died in Flirey, France on August 4, 1918, at just 24 years old. Sadly, he was one of hundreds of thousands of people of many nationalities dying in those horrible days in Europe.
His story is elusive, but there's one part of his tale that is telling of a larger phenomenon. To the point, his family remembered him as "Our World War Hero."
I was discussing with a friend just the ither day how her grandfather, who lived through the Depression, lived every day as if it could happen again. As such, whenever anybody asked for anything - "Hey, does anybody have 4 ten-penny nails and a bolt of red cloth?" - he'd walk out to the barn and grab it. He saved everything he ever owned, just in case the Depression might happen again.
But the world had never seen anything like World War I. And the United States had entered a long period of isolation and even ideological isolationism before the war, so a prolonged period of relative peace had reigned from the end of teh Civil War through the 19-teens (I said relative. I am aware of the Spanish-American War and the other minor conflicts!). The concept of a global war seemed fantastical, like something about which H.G. Wells would have written. But transportation technology, weapons technology and communications technology had allowed the world's countries to share their hatreds in ways never seen before.
World War II? Perish the thought. Who in 1918 foresaw a larger and more destructive war taking place in their lifetimes? Few understood at the time that World War I caused World War II, the unfair treatment of the losers leading to burning resentment. World War I wasn't known as World War I at the time; it was the Great War. That's why Charles is "Our World War Hero" and not "Our World War I Hero."
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Near our hero Frank Alger lies Charles Gardner, just down the street at the Washington Street Cemetery in Norwell, Civil War Medal of Honor recipient. It should be known, though, that the government gave out far more Medals of Honor during that war than it ultimately realized it should have, and rescinded many of them. As a result of actions at the Battle of Five Forks, Virginia, for instance, seventeen medals were awarded. Charles Gardner earned one.
Side note here. Please never say that any recipient "won" a medal. Whether for lifesaving bravery or battlefield heroics, recipients earn their awards. Saying they won medals makes it sound like there was a lottery. Ok, off the soapbox.
Charles, a private with the 32nd Massachusetts Infantry, born right here in old South Scituate (now known as Norwell), earned his at the Battle of Five Forks on April 1, 1865, a confrontation known as the "Waterloo of the Confederacy." Facing unfavorable odds, Confederate General Robert E. Lee watched the results at Five Forks, a Union victory, and decided to pull up stakes from his defensive positions around Petersburg. Just days later the Union Army caught up to him and forced him into war-ending negotiations at Appomattox Court House. Gardner's role? He captured the Confederate flag at Five Forks, as symbolic an action in as symbolic a battle as there was in the Civil War.
Would he have received the award today? Probably not, but then, enemies today hardly send standard bearers prominently into battle to face each other. The world has changed, and so, too, have the regulations for the award. Nonetheless, Charles N. Gardner, in his time and place, earned the right to put the words "Medal of Honor" on his gravestone.
One final thought. Charles, born in South Scituate, and Frank, born in Middleboro, probably didn't know each other before the war, but there's no denying the possibility that after the war they came together at Grand Army of the Republic functions, or just in the daily life of Norwell and Hanover. Can you imagine the stories they shared?
Friday, April 26, 2013
Well, if it isn't Floretta Vining, as I live and breathe. And she doesn't.
To be fair, I've spent a lot of time and energy poking fun at Floretta, but she brougtht it on herself. Floretta, who's memorialized on a stone with her father Alexander, mother and sister, inherited her dad's leather goods/hotelier's fortune and built a three-story home in Hull she labeled Vining Villa.
Everything about her was big, including her clothing. She once described herself as "the largest society woman in Boston," and she meant it just in the way you initially took it. She summered in Hull, wintered at the Parker House in Boston, had a third home in central Mass., where she kept her "country seat." She always had another scheme cooking - vegetables from her farm were sold in Hull each fall, she had her own ice pond to supply the hotels, etc. She was heavily involved with the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Sorosis Club, women's press organizations, etc. And she owned nine South Shore of Boston newspapers.
And that's where she gets into trouble with me. I've read almost every one of her editorials. She once announced that all men over the age of sixty should be euthanized, as they were no longer useful to society. In a bombastic age at the end of the 1800s, when yellow journalism reigned, she stood out as an extreme voice.
But, and especially in Floretta's case this was a big but, for all of her wild opinions about girls chewing gum at train stations, housewives unable to properly fold bedsheets, etc., there was a modicum of good accomplished. She stood toe-to-toe with the Postmaster General and demanded that the Town of Hull, all 450 people, required twice a day rural delivery of mail. And she got it. She got sidewalks installed, train and steamboat schedules changed, and more.
So with this stone I can put a face with a name, one of the South Shore' most dynamic personalities. And I'll say this: I expected something larger, something more ostentatious, something more befitting the life of Floretta Vining.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Frank Alger deserves a full-blown biography, more than I can accomplish here.
He was West Bridgewater-born, and as a teen enlisted with the 40th Massachusetts as a cavalryman to fight in the Civil War. And fight he did, at many engagements down the eastern seaboard. His troubles began at the Battle of Olustee, Florida, where he was wounded in his right side by a musket ball and fell from his horse. He was left on the battlefield in this condition and considered dead by his retreating comrades. His commanding officer even wrote a letter to his father stating so, saying "He died as he lived, a true hero."
But he survived, and after two days of struggling on the battlefield was taken by a Confederate soldier to a place of respite, and thence to a church so his wounds could be dressed. After several weeks in medical care, he was, according to his stone, "a prisoner at Andersonville, Ga., 13 mos." According to other primary and secondary sources, he spent just six months at Andersonville before transfer to other facilities. He escaped from one prison in Charleston, South Carolina, before bloodhounds brought him back.
Andersonville Prison was known as a death trap for Union soldiers. Unable to feed their own armies, the Confederates had absolutely no way to feed their prisoners. Of the 45,000 Billy Yanks that entered Andersonville, 13,000 died of starvation and malnutrition. Frank weighed 175 healthy pounds as a strapping late teen when he was captured, but only 90 when he was finally released.
After the war he forged a life in business as a blacksmith in Weymouth, Hingham and finally Hanover, where he also served as a policeman for seventeen years. He lived until 1936.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
I stopped into a small burial ground near my work, the Union Cemetery at Assinippi in Norwell, another one of those places I've always wanted to visit (you know, like Disney World). I finally found the right time to do so.
Almost instantly I ran into another tragedy involving a ship. It was becoming a theme for we coast dwellers of Massachusetts.
The majestic steamer Atlantic - the first to introduce gas lighting for its passengers - had traveled from Boston to New London, and was on its way to New York City from that latter place when catastrophe struck on the night of November 27, 1846. With a heavy gale blowing, the ship lost power after a boiler explosion. The captain attempted to throw out his anchors, but the seas became so rough that they were useless. Near Fisher's Island, a geological extension of the North Fork of New York's Long Island, the Atlantic ran afoul of rocks and began to break apart. Some of the people aboard waited out the final moments as bravely as they could, while others dove into the turbulence below, believing they could swim their way to safety. Between 40 and 50 people perished as the ship sank, Collamore among them. Nathaniel Currier, of Currier & Ives, created a lithograph depiction of the event.
My fingers are crossed that this is not the theme my loved ones will be using when I go. I shudder at the thought of what poor Andrew went through.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Some people bring great vivacity to our lives. They light up a room when they enter it. They carry a warm glow with them wherever they go. That glow provides both brightness and warmth, as their personalities just force smiles onto our faces. It's them for whom we feel the most loss when they go. When Elizabeth went, her family saw a curtain coming down on a great performer. "The lights have dimmed on Broadway," they wrote. The show is over.
I can't tell you how many times I've stood over my dad's grave and smiled. Some people, like Elizabeth, I'm sure, have the power to bring happiness beyond their final days. They leave us memories of crazy occurrences, of wild times, of great fits of laughter, even of funny facial expressions. (In my dad's case it's a ludicrously long list of dirty jokes, but who's counting). They have a way of letting us know that they are the stars, we are the audience. It's makes the closing of the final act seem both more and less painful, if you catch the way I'm thinking. We hate to see them go, but have more ways to cope with their loss.
By the way, did I ever tell you the one about the nun in the bathtub?
Monday, April 22, 2013
A million people were killed, wounded, or died of disease in the Civil War. Two men died in an ambush on the Union Army transport Superior on April 22, 1864. One was from Kingston.
One man, Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Gregory, commanding USS St Clair, described the day like this: "On my way up to this place I stopped just above the Raft. The Superior loaded with troops gave the alarm of the approach of rebels. I fired a few shrapnel and we lay quiet the night of the 21st. The transport left me this morning and when about 30 miles below this place by water was fired into by a guerrilla band, 2 men killed and 16 wounded. The rebels had one fieldpiece. The boat ran past them and then waited for me. I threw a few more shrapnel into a thicket where the rebels had come out to see the troops and what they had done. The troops burned some property from behind which they had been fired upon. We are here all safe and I am happy to say that my officers and men have done admirably..."
But the damage was done. Sixteen year-old Benjamin was dead, "Killed on his passage from New Orleans to Alexandria on the Transport Superior, April 22, 1864, Aged 16 yrs, 9 mos, 6 days."
A million casulaties, a million stories.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
It would be unfair of me to poke the fun I am about to poke without some explanation.
Joe Palombo was no doubt a good man. He was a deputy sherriff, serving the public trust, and even has a Silver Lake Youth Football emblem marking his stone. Anyone who dedicates part of his adult life to teaching youngsters to play sports, to learn languages, whetever, is OK in my book. It's so easy not to give back.
And I know it's Mrs. Palombo, who's still alive and well (we have common acquaintances), who is the "Collector of Taxes" listed on the stone. And it's definitely an unsung position. But think about this: when the United States won the Revolutionary War, smuggling was a way of life. The country was dozens of millions of dollars in debt, and needed to immediately impose duties, levies, taxes, to repay war loans and get the country started on the right foot. Where would we have been without tax collectors, without the Revenue Cutter Service? Where would we be today without the IRS?
So I respect the office, for certain. But we have a society-wide bias against taxes, if not tax collectors, per se. Didn't anybody find it amusing when they saw the words "You have touched so many lives" near the words "Collector of taxes?" on the Palombo stone?
OK, I'll stop now. (Insert smiley face emoticon here).
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Well it seems Kingston has even a bigger heart than I thought.
I should re-phrase that, but I won't. I fell in love with the Kingston community a decade ago, even serving on the board of the Jones River Village Historical Society for a while. It's a small community, facing some tough odds when compared to surrounding towns, but its people pull off amazing things. Some of the best-run, most well thought-out nonprofit events I've ever attended or been a part of have taken place in Kingston.
It's because of people like Christina. Although I never met her, I feel like I know her, as she represents the people who drive the good in small towns. "Devote yourself to loving others," her stone challenges us, in the words of Mitch Albom's Tuesdays with Morrie, "Devote yourself to your community."
And that's why Kingston feels like home to me. That feeling, that will to just do good things, is there in so many people.
Friday, April 19, 2013
In a rare instance, I know how one of our departed was taken from us. That, though, is neither here nor there.
Jonathan died a young man, unfairly, and well before his time. But, it seems, he spent the little time he had wisely. His stone describes him as "A Man for Others."
To be fully considered a man at 19 was, in itself, a major accomplishment. There are many nineteen year-olds out there doing stupid things on a daily basis. (Insert 35-year-olds, 50 year-olds, whatever you choose). To show maturity enough by 19 to be called a man, that's a damn good thing.
A secondary marker, in front of his stone, tells more of Jonathan's legacy. "This is our purpose: to make as meaningful as possible this life that has been bestowed upon us; to live in such a way that we may be proud of ourselves; to act in such a way that some part of us lives on." The quote comes from German philosopher Oswald Spengler, but again, that is neither here nor there.
I'm sad I never met Jonathan, and wonder where I would have had he lived. I bumped around Kingston in the years just following his death, in the nonprofit world. I'll bet you that had he survived, we would have found each other on some goodwill mission in the area. I find, at times, that life is full of far too many "what ifs."
Thursday, April 18, 2013
If I could speak to "Sonny," I'd answer his question.
"Was I a good person?" his gravemarker asks.
Sonny, if it was even remotely troubling you on your deathbed, chances are you were. What a wonderful instance with which to start my adventure in the Evergreen Cemetery in Kingston.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Oh, how quickly we forget.
The USS Oneida did its part to win the Civil War for the north, sinking enemy ships, attempting to blockade southern ports (not always successfully), destroying obstructions on rivers, etc. One could argue that under today's moralistic code one of its greatest feats, the sinking of a Confederate steamer loaded with wounded soldiers, might be considered less than heroic even by its own side. War is hell.
After the war, the ship served in the Far East with the Asiatic Squadron, at a time when the United States was opening diplomatic channels with the countries of that region. The British were there, too. They, essentially, killed Haviland.
It was a steamer of the Peninsula & Oriental line, the City of Bombay, that struck the screw sloop-of-war, tearing away its side. As the American ship sank, the captain of the City of Bombay ordered his ship forward, never looking back. The ship sank in 37 fathoms of water, as Japanese fishermen scrambled to save as many men as they could. They grabbed 61. Our man was not among them. "Haviland Barstow, 1st Asst. Engineer, U.S.N., Born June 11, 1839, went down on the U.S.S. Oneida, Yokohama Bay, Japan, Jan. 24, 1870, standing at his post of duty."
His bones may or may not have been found. Japanese salvagers raised what they could - the U.S. government sold the rights to the ship rather than conducting the work - in the days after the disaster. Some bones were interred at a temple in Tokyo. Recent archaeological work has resulted in more such discoveries, all these years later.
Wherever Haviland lies, may he rest in peace.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
World War I continues to mystify me.
Ralph Bailey served in the Army during the conflict, not as an infantryman, not as an airman, not even as a trumpeter. He served as a "Wagoner."
Although the automobile was in widespread use by the time America entered the First World War, its engine had not completely overtaken the horse as a means of motive power. There were tanks on the battlefield, but there were also horses. Heck, when Germany invaded Poland in World War II, twenty years later, the Poles fought back by charging on horseback againts blitzing German tanks.
Ralph was a man in charge of a team of horses, pulling supplies. Here were some of the rules he lived by:
1. Always keep a steady pressure on the reins
2. Never remove left hand from the reins, even though the right may be holding them in front, as it is very difficult to get the left hand back into its place again with the reins in the right places.
3. Lead reins should seldom be removed from the left hand.
4. Grip the reins tightly with the third and little fingers to prevent their slipping.
5. Alter position of the bits if the team pulls hard.
6. Should the team be getting the better of you, and you find that you cannot stop it, it will be found a great assistance to place the right leg over all the reins, as you may be able to stop them by the extra power and leverage by the position of the leg. Of course, it is understood the brake has been applied.
He had his own mission in World War I, one that was just as important as the next. An old adage says that an army marches on its stomach, that without lines of logistics, it goes nowhere. Thanks to men like Ralph, the U.S. Army fought on while they were "Over There."
Monday, April 15, 2013
I've encountered a lot of interesting things in cemeteries.
Once, when in Kentucky, I spent three days chasing a Confederate cavalryman named Lafe Arrington. I was fascinated by his stone, partly because I live in a part of the country where it's rare to find a Confederate buried. But he was elusive. I left without really learning anything about him, despite visiting libraries, historical societies and even more cemeteries. In that same cemetery, where the stones were laid out in concentric circles, I found a few stones distanced from the rest, at the edge of the woods, obviously segregated. Slaves.
Joe Washington was a slave, but not here in Hanover (there were plenty in Massachusetts in times before he got here - he just wasn't one of them). His story, though, was one of triumph in breaking free of the bonds, of escape. His stone - I'm guessing the original - just has name and dates. His other, seemingly placed much later, tells a longer story: "Born in North Carolina a slave, died in Massachusetts free. The reward of the faithful is certain."
There's nothing like a story about breaking through, of the release of the human spirit to soar on its own.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Now this was a nice surprise.
I'm really disappointed that I never got to meet Lloyd Vernon Briggs, but then, I feel that way about a lot of dead people. I mean, he was just so interesting. For all I know he could have been a jerk; I prefer to think otherwise. And they don't put that stuff on tombstones anyway. "Joe Smith, 1823-1878: A Total Ass." Maybe my family will break that mold with me.
But back to Briggs. One of his greatest accomplishments was a book, a tome. He wrote History of Shipbuilding on North River, one of the most important works on local industry I've ever found. Briggs visited all the old families involved in the shipbuilding trade and its itinerant industries in the many communities on the river - Scituate, Marshfield, Hanover, Pembroke, Norwell (which was just named the year before the book's publication) - and collected anecdotes, lists of ships built, even notes fom the inside covers of family bibles. The result was a massive book that reads like the Bible, speaking of generations of families who carried out the business. More than 1,000 ships slid out of the old mouth of the North River from 1690-1870. I wrote North River: Scenic Waterway of the South Shore after inspiration from his work.
But Briggs didn't stop there. He also wrote a history of a local church - the church, in fact, seen from this cemetery. I obviously have to read that one, as the full title reads, History of the First Congregational Church, Hanover, 1727-1865, and Inscriptions from the Headstones. His most interesting work, though? The Manner of Man that Kills: Spencer-Czoglosz-Richeson. After President McKinley was shot in Buffalo, Briggs sat in a room with his murderer, Leon Czoglosz, and gave him a psychological evaluation.
That's a lot of information that's not on his tombstone. Damn, I really wish I could have met him.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Every family goes through it to one extent or another. Mine just did.
The problem with large families being born together is that large families can die together. What I mean is that when the time comes, when the members of a generation all reach a certain age, chances are they're going to start falling off. I mentioned my Uncle Mike and my Aunt Helen a while ago, who went a week apart. This winter their brother and sister, Louie and Nancy, did exactly the same thing. And that was that. My dad's parents, uncles and aunts were gone.
The Hanover Baileys summed up the notion very well, when they wrote on a family stone in 1900, "Gathering Home, One by One." They took it, of course, from a hymn called "Gathering Homeward":
"Gathering homew'd, from ev'ry land,
Gathering one by one."
I'm still hoping for some Victorian originality, but that may just not have been their thing. In any event, it takes a while in one's lifetime to reach the moment of understanding of the impact of these words. I'm there.
Friday, April 12, 2013
As I was walking back to my car, thinking I was done for the day, something funny caught my eye. It was, in fact, a full color photograph of a funny car.
There were two forces at work in my head. First, people put a lot of stuff on their tombstones, things that were passions during their lifetimes, but let's just say that not everybody who puts a Red Sox logo on their gravestone played for the Red Sox. Kosty, in my mind, could have been a funny car enthusiast.
But the dates seemed right. Funny cars emerged in the 1960s, and I remember having Matchbox funny cars as a kid in the '70s. Was it ABC's Wide World of Sports that occasionally ran races on TV at that time? I have vague memories of them. So, I took down the name, snapped the photo, noted the number on my clicker.
Yup, Kosty was the real deal, a racer from the '60s forward. The car on his stone is his nationally-famous "Boston Shaker," which came after his "Tuff Enuff" car. Kosty was the first New Englander to take home a national championship in the sport.
You learn something new every day, don't you? But I don't think this helps my quest. Nobody's going to want to see a picture of my 2006 Ford Fusion on my gravestone. Unless I win a national champhionship with it...
Thursday, April 11, 2013
In another beautiful use of Beatles lyrics, Lori is remembered with the words "I'll Follow the Sun."
While the song is primarily about a man leaving a relationship, and has a melancholy feel to its lyrics, it also has an upbeat vibe, sung to major chords. The overall theme is one of unwanted separation and departure, and the notion that one will continue to find sunshine, even when faced with rain. The person is determined to remain positive in the darkest of circumstances.
I'm finding as I write these entries that I'm an optimist at heart, that I internally applaud those folks that find those silver linings. And I'm finding that the Beatles spoke to people in many, many ways.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
I've mentioned in the first 12,000 entries a few times how the structure of World War I American military forces was odd to me, with balloonists, trumpeters and more. I've since found several more trumpeters, in fact. Our forces have just changed so much over time, thanks mostly to technology. But in this case, I know the full story.
Benjamin was a "Surfman, U.S. Coast Guard, World War I." I can tell you that he went back even further than that, to a time before the Coast Guard. Born in 1858, Ben was a perfect candidate to join the U.S. Life-Saving Service, a predecessor agency to the Coast Guard, which formed in 1915.
Duxbury - or Plymouth, properly - got a lifesaving station in 1874, when Ben was a teenager, and the station, at the Gurnet, a headland at the southern end of Duxbury Beach, remained there through the war. The old life-saving stations were run by keepers, manned by surfmen, men who entered the surf in small boats during storms that were pushing schooners and ships to the shore. They were true storm warriors, fighting against Mother Nature's will to save the lives of men and women they'd never met.
When the Life-Saving Service merged with the Revenue Cutter Service in 1915 to form the Coast Guard, the old designation of surfman remained. (Ben, typical of the men who served with the old Life-Saving Service, was about 60 when America entered the war; until 1915, there were no pensions, and thus they held onto their jobs until they physically couldn't any longer.) Then, for many years, the title "surfman" faded. The service brought it back recently and applied it to its hot shot coxswains, heavy weather-trained lifeboat drivers.
May the name surfman live forever, so, too, the memory of men like Benjamin Simmons.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Monday, April 8, 2013
Back in Duxbury at Mayflower Cemetery.
Sometimes, a few words of explanation are worth their weight in gold (can you weigh words? I guess when they're carved into a stone you can).
Alexander Seaborn Wadsworth was "Born on Ship Seth Sprague" in the Bay of Bengal in 1853. Seaborn, born at sea. I love it!
Sunday, April 7, 2013
I figure that there are times when someone's final words appear on their tombstone. After all, so many famuos people are credited with them, rightly or not, it would only be fair that less-than-famous people are ultimately deemed quote-worthy as well.
But the sentiment "I'll see you in the morning," while I'm sure it has been used as final words, is also found in hymns:
"I will meet you in the morning on the bright riverside,
When all sorrows have drifted away.
I'll be standing at the portal with the gates open wide
At the close of life's long, dreary day."
Look over the Reverend's shoulders when you visit his stone; that's the Mystic River.
I'm erring on the side of piety with this one.
Saturday, April 6, 2013
We've covered women in the military, right? Well, partially right. I was hoping I might meet someone like Sarah to further my thoughts.
World War II brought women directly into the armed forces, or at least the female counterparts to the Amry, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard; they've since been integrated into the main forces in many ways, if not fully in combat.
Before that time, though, they served in the more traditional role of nursing (and even doctoring, going back to the Civil War). Sarah "Served in the World War with the Army Nurse Corps, U.S.A. May 13, 1917 to April 2, 1919 at British Base Hospital No. 2 Etretat, France; With Mobile Hospital No. 2, American Expeditionary Forces in France and with the American Army of Occupation in Germany."
It's safe to say Sarah saw the war; she joined the Nurse Corps one month after the United States formally entered the conflict and stayed with it for five months beyond the moment the final shot was fired. She probably had an overflow of stories to tell about her experiences, but sadly died less than a decade later, at 40 years old.
Friday, April 5, 2013
For the first time, putting one's place of origin on a stone made sense to me.
As I've walked, I've found numerous markers for Civil War veterans and World War II vets specifically that make it a point of mentioning an out-of-state birth. To date, since they've all been found in Massachusetts, I haven't given them much attention. They've been...mild amusements. I mentioned the phenomenon in relation to a woman from Calcuttta who died in Hingham. Why is that the most important fact someone wants to tie to their legacy forever?
Well, I now get it. For the first time I've run into a Massachusetts man buried out of state. Flavius Cheney, "Co. I, 51st Mass. Inf." It hit me right away. Dude, what are you doing down here? I felt like I had run into a long lost friend while vacationing in Aruba. He was a bit of familiarity in foreign surroundings, a fellow Masachusett.
But Cheney did more than just enlist to fight in the Civil War. His legacy was in globe making, and he lived a good long life beyond the war creating educational supplies for schools in Seneca Falls, NY, and in Mystic.
Not bad, for a Massachusetts kid.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
"For the first time moonlight mattered." For not the first time, I'm stumped.
I think the mysteriousness of the sentence makes it beautiful. I've Googled it and come up with several theories, but I don't want any of them to place erroneous meaning on words that probably had deep, specific meaning for Thomas and his loved ones.
Suffice to say, I love it, even if it's bewildering to me (and sorry about the photograph - wrong setting, my fault).
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
A glance at the front of the stone is deceiving; it's like any of the other 10,000 I've read so far. But it's the verso side that's compelling.
David and Muriel are remembered collectively with the quote, "There can be no sorrow at the end of such a journey." To illustrate that thought, their lives are told in longform.
David was "Happily married to Muriel Ruth Nelson for 55 years. West Texas farm boy, Naval Academy graduate, submarine commanding officer, lawyer, entrepreneur, founder of Sonalysts, Inc., happy, handsome, hardworking, loved, respected and sorely missed."
Muriel "Loved life, husband & 3 daughters. Award winning equestrienne, business woman, founder of Sonalysts, Inc., artist, race horse breeder, wildlife protector, beautiful intelligent, benevolent, admired, cherished and deeply missed."
Screw brevity. Give me the full story. I now have a vision of the Hinkles and the beautiful lives they led together. After reading this stone, I'm starting a fund for the long version of my life's tale to be told in stone, even if it means my kids can't go to college.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
The proximity of Mystic to Groton brings submariners into the picture, and into Elm Grove. Richard Alton Marshall's stone wears two separate marks, logos of the United States Marine Corps and the United States Submarine Veterans.
And it also bears four words not associated with his and his wife's names: "Run Silent, Run Deep."
Military movie buffs will pick it up immediately. The movie, based on the novel by then-Commander Edward Beach, starred Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster as submarine commanders with different views on operations, and, believe it or not, a young Don Rickles as "Quartermaster First Class Ruby." I cannot remember whether or not he used the words "hockey puck" in the film, but it's doubtful.
Anyway, the phrase is pretty straightforward. Silent running was a prerequisite in the stealth game - still is, in fact - and running deep also helps avoid detection. In order to reach an objective then, a submarine running silently and deeply had a good chance at survival and success. Beach, who had commanded subs in the Pacific, knew of which he spoke. The phrase stands as a solid motto of the submarine corps, words of pride for men like Richard Alton Marshall.
Monday, April 1, 2013
So this guy, Commodore Huling of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the volunteer arm of the greater service, certainly had things going his way. He obviously loved his service as much as the last Coastie we just met (today they prefer to be called Guardians, but the old term was Coastie). On his gravemarker is a sketch of the flag ship of the Coast Guard, the tall ship of the United States, the barque Eagle. Eagle started out as the Horst Wessel, a German Navy training ship used in World War II, and has the bizarre distinction that both Adolf Hitler and John F. Kennedy stood on her deck main deck in the name of nationalism.
Eagle, taken as a war prize after the conflict ended, is a square-rigged ship, meaning that the sails on her main and mizzenmasts are just that, square. Square-riggers tall enough have small sails aloft known as royals, and royals are typically used with light, favorable winds. An old saying on the sea for wishing a ship heading homeward good luck was, "Fair winds and following seas." In another version, it was "Fair winds and royals all the way." Commodore Huling was sent home with the words "Royals all the way" on a banner above the Eagle.
But he needen't have worried. As I said, he had things going his way. The woman he was sailing home to was his wife, Margaret Fairweather.
You can't make this stuff up.