The Lydster: very grave situation

hickey-gravestoneThe family went to this fair at a church in Claverack, NY, SSE of Albany. The Wife sees a friend who connects with that one time a year. The Daughter played on the swing, but I headed for the adjacent cemetery.

My maternal grandmother Gert and her sister Adenia have no gravestones. Gram died on Super Bowl Sunday 1982, and my aunt Deana a decade and a half earlier. So I decided to check out the condition of the memorials.

I noticed right off that many of them have a covering of green substance I believe to be lichen. Some are more prone than others.

The Daughter, finished on the swing, joined me in the cemetery. I started cleaning off the lichen with the back of a plastic fork I happened to have, and she used an old pen to clean out the letters. I wish I had taken a “before” picture, but one could barely see HICKEY, and the names below were not visible. As you can probably tell, there is still plenty of lichen there, but at least it’s readable.

Ah, Mildred Rowe was a couple of years OLDER than her husband, but outlived him by a couple of decades.

duntz-gravestone-before duntz-gravestone-after
Pleased with our work, we went onto another grave. Headstones tell interesting stories. The Duntz couple had two kids. Emily died before she was 40, and Azano didn’t make it to his 18th birthday. The parents buried both of their children.

Interestingly, there are separate little headstones at ground level for AZANO, EMILY, and MOTHER (Edna Alger), but not for the father, Ellis, because others evidently made that determination.

Later, with friends, I’ve had several conversations about making plans for that time after death so that family members don’t have fights about it. I speak from experience in this matter.

shook-headstone-before shook-headstone-after
We had almost run out of time – the Wife was calling us to have lunch at the event – but we thought this one headstone needed our help, not so much from the lichen, but from some other growth. Even together, we could not pull out the weed obscuring the view, and I didn’t have a knife on me to cut it away. Instead of removing the obstruction, the Daughter took a weed and tied them down, then found a rock, an adventure in itself, to keep the mess down.

We did relatively little lichen removal on this one, but it needed less work. This headstone was next to another stone I suspect marked the sister of the woman noted here.

The Daughter thought that she might like doing this kind of work for a living, or maybe do it as a hobby to get away from her busy lawyer career. We found it very relaxing on a perfect, sunny November day (67 F, 19.4C), a day before it snowed!

Grandmother Agatha Green, found at last

Her greatest contribution to my development was that she taught me how to play canasta.

When my parents moved downstairs at 5 Gaines Street, Binghamton, NY, my paternal grandparents, McKinley and Agatha (nee Walker) Green moved upstairs. Her name, BTW, was pronounced a-GATH-a, not AG-a-tha. Yes, it is I who she is holding.

Grandma Green was almost certainly my first Sunday school teacher at Trinity A.M.E. Zion Church, only a couple of short blocks from our home. She had a certain refinement and bearing. While my maternal grandmother would nag me, this grandma gave me the parameters she expected, and I pretty much did it.
It’s rather like some Bill Cosby routine. Grandma Williams was Cos’ mom, “Go to bed, because it’s important for…blah, blah.” Grandma Green was like Cos’ dad: “Go to bed.” OK, grandma.

Of course, I visited her and Pop (my grandfather) virtually every day. One time when I was three, I fell down the flight of stairs from their dwelling to mine. To this day, the hair will grow on an area of chin, just below my lower lip. (Also odd: two of my co-workers fell down flights of steps when THEY were three.)

She was the eldest child of some half dozen kids, and I recall when her father died; I was around 7, so it would have been about 1960. He was this little tyrant, even at his advanced age, and all of his kids were afraid of him, though he was nice to my father and to me.

Red threes

Her greatest contribution to my development was that, when I was six or seven, she taught me how to play the card game Canasta. It’s an arcane game, but I learned to love it. I then taught my great aunt, my mother’s Aunt Deana, how to play. I’ve been playing cards ever since, though the last time I played canasta was against my high school girlfriend’s father over four decades ago.

Then suddenly, at the age of 62, she died. I no longer know from what, though I assume now it was a heart attack. I remember going to the funeral, and the burial. What I don’t recall is ever going to her gravesite afterward, even though her husband and her son lived in the area.

Floral Park

In fact, I pretty much couldn’t remember precisely WHERE she was buried until my niece came across Paul R. at Find A Grave, who is “retired so I have time to walk through the cemeteries and take pictures. In mid-July 2010 I started a project to record as many memorials for the cemeteries in my county (Broome, NY) with pictures that I could.” He added this record on 10/29/2010. She’s buried in Floral Park Cemetery in Johnson City, the village adjacent to Binghamton, and within walking distance of the house that the family moved to in 1972.
Thanks, Paul R. You’ve cleared up part of a family mystery.

When I went to Binghamton in mid-July, my family went to Section M and found the headstone. It was next to a newly-dug grave of her sister-in-law, Jesse Walker, who had died a few days earlier. The SIL was known as “Earl’s Jesse”; my grandmother had a sister named Jesse Walker, and so their brother Earl’s wife got the odd appellation.

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