Imagine having to maintain nearly 100 acres of rolling lawns dotted with stones of various shapes and sizes every few feet, in a landscape of hundreds of trees and shrubs, in all kinds of weather on a tight budget! It is a daunting challege which faces every cemetery director these days. When we stroll leisurely through the grounds on a Sunday afternoon, admiring the green clipped grass and resting beneath the shade of one of the great old trees, it is easy to forget the effort and money it takes to keep it all looking as if it just grew that way naturally. It is always upsetting to see when the peace and beauty is marred by a thoughtless vandal knocking over a stone which has stood for 150 years, graffiti scribbled on a mausoleum, or a grand old oak uprooted by a violent storm. Many years ago, Perpetual Care was an option family members could select for their plot at a very reasonable rate, but like everything else, the cost has escalated, and the $500 Lizzie Borden arranged for the permanent care of her family plot has long ago been spent.
And so, it seems plain that every city -owned cemetery could benefit from more willing volunteers to help with some issues which they can be easily trained to do, or to organize donations and contributions of time, labor and plantings. The slide presentation below shows some of the issues faced daily in the typical city cemetery, from security issues to animals being dumped on the grounds, to broken stones and acid rain. For some problems there is a cure, sadly for others, such as hopelessly fractured stones which are broken beyond repair, there is nothing to be done except to photograph and record the information to be filed at the office for future generations.
But there are ways to help. Lichen and moss can be easily removed before precious information on stones is lost forever. It just takes a soft brush and some plain warm water in the hands of someone who cares about preserving history for those who will pass this way 100 years from now. Diseased and uprooted trees can be replanted and flower beds restored to their former glory for just a little money and effort on the part of eager volunteers willing to give a Sunday afternoon once in awhile.