Monday, May 30, 2011

Decoration/ Memorial Day in Liberty & Cemeteries in Montgomery County

Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day.  On that day, those fallen in service to the nation were honored with flowers on their graves.  The holiday eventually was called Memorial Day, eventually becoming one of the federally recognized Monday holidays that created our now beloved three day weekends.  In the "old days", my mom, Grandma Jonas and some of the female relatives would put together flower baskets in weather proof containers to trek out to the cemeteries.  There they sought out the graves of everyone in the family, Ankney's, Jonas', Clayton's, Cappel's and a few others like the Shiverdecker's and the Hole's.  The genealogy people at the Ohio genealogical Society are mapping all the cemeteries and cataloging names of the deceased.
 Cemeteries in Montgomery County, Ohio

I rode along once or twice, but I was bored and didn't understand the concept of honoring the dead in my early years.  I did get the message about the importance of Family, though.  And I got familiar with the location of several graveyards.  Now, many of the persons mentioned in my blog posts are buried in those cemeteries.  I think of Mrs. Cannon's sugar cookies (and Doug and sledding down the big hill on the Cannon farm on Snyder Rd.) whenever I go north on Diamond Mill Road north of Mile Road and see the cemetery on the West side of the road next to the farm with the spring where she is buried.  Rex Cannon is also buried there as is Don Lenk (Aunt Crock's husband, in 2010), related to all the Lenks in Liberty Church (Mary Jo Spitler , a former Lenk, still is a member).

The Liberty Church graveyard hasn't been used for decades, having become a problem when ancient headstones began to crumble and the parking lot expanded.  So no one gets buried in Liberty.  Many are buried just north of Route 35 on the east side of Union Road while a few, including Charlie Baker ("Bake", as wife Catherine and everyone else referred to him, and, I assume, Catherine herself) are buried just west of the intersection of Union and Rt. 35 on the north side of  Rt 35 in a mausoleum.

My Grandpa Jonas (Arthur Harry who died in 1966) is buried in Dayton Memorial Park north of Dayton off North Dixie Drive next to Grandma.  Aunt Crock will eventually go there next to her first husband, Rev. Jess Goodheart.  Grandpa Jonas was unusual in that he said he never wanted to know where his father, August, was buried since his upbringing was a very harsh, disciplined, stressful experience.  His brother Oscar referred to their dad as "the Kaiser", reflecting on the German origins of August and his brothers who came here on a ship in the 1880's.  August eventually got a job as a stonemason and lived with his wife and 8 or so children on Steele Avenue in East Dayton. He got pneumonia in 1908 and died within days, according to cousin Steve Christian who grew up in East Dayton, graduated from Stivers High School and Wright State, then went to MI for his accounting, teaching and coaching career.

Cousin Steve, grandson of Great Uncle Oscar Jonas, was in Dayton a few weeks ago to lay his mother Vera Jonas Christian's ashes to rest in the Woodland Cemetery Mausoleum with his father Will.  After the service, Steve asked Mike and I if we wanted to see where August Jonas, our great grandfather, was buried.  "Yes," we answered and in 4 minutes 103 years of estrangement of the Arthur Harry Jonas clan from August Jonas was ended. Trans-generational forgiveness is refreshing.  Here's Mike and I with August Jonas grave.

Memorial Day has a lot more meaning for me now as an adult with awareness of life and death and issues of Freedom and Peace.  What price Freedom?  My dad's cousin Gordon Ankney, a pilot in WWII was killed in service of our country.  The emptiness still hit his siblings and cousins hard whenever he was mentioned at the Ankney Family Reunions.  The sense of loss never ends, but the meaning of the loss evolves.

As a Vietnam Veteran, I reflect on the meaning of the losses in Vietnam, including 20 of my West Point 1968 classmates in my post today on Dr. Synonymous (The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall - Silence Beyond Words).  Freedom isn't free.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Victrola's, RCA Victor, Records and Johnny Appleseed

The earliest music I remember was the church pianos playing children's Christian songs and the church organ playing hymns.  We had a radio at home, but I don't remember listening to music on it in the early years of childhood.  I have fond memories, though, of records.  Grandma Mary Jonas had a Victor Victrola (or, if made after 1929,  RCA Victor Victrola) that you cranked, delivering turntable revolutions for the effort.  A certain amount of cranking allowed the machine to play a 78 RPM record.  Grandma had a huge collection of records that we rarely listened to at her home next door. Children didn't mess with the Victrola (click on this link for more detailed information about Victor Records, Machines and RCA)
 Victor Talking Machine Company

When I was 5 or 6, we got an electric record player which played 78's and allowed stacking of waiting records fora multiple play feature.  I played records over and over if I liked them.  There were lots of 1940's songs and many WWII songs that I loved.  "This is the Army Mr. Jones" sticks out as one I heard repeatedly.  "This is the Army, Mr. Jones, No private rooms or telephones.  You had your breakfast in be before, but you won't have it there anymore.  This is the Army Mr. Green.  We like the barracks nice and clean.  You had a housemaid to clean your floor, but she won't help you out any more.  Do what the buglers command.  They're in the Army and not in a band.  This is the Army Mr. Brown.  You and your baby went to town.  She had you worried, but this is war, and she won't worry you any more." This is the Army, Mr Jones

When we started to get our own records, I played the Johnny Appleseed album from Disney with Dennis Day over and over. "Get on the wagon rolling west, out to the great unknown.  Get on the wagon rolling west, or you'll be left alone.  We made a home before. We're starting out again.  We ain't afeered of man or beast or stout hearted friend, so Get on the wagons rolling west out to the great unknown.  Get on the wagons rolling west, or you'll be left alone."  And he was left alone in the Disney story, so he had to make do with what he had. Shoeless with a pot for a hat and appleseeds to offer. And he did what he knew, becoming famous, but still wearing rags.  So he sang, "The Lord's been good to me, and so I thank the Lord, for giving me the things I need:  the sun and rain and the appleseed.  The Lord's been good to me." And that's a lesson for kids.  The Lord's Been Good to Me

Later, I learned more about John Chapman, a fascinating nurseryman and religious man. 

From Wikipedia:  Johnny Appleseed (September 26, 1774 – March 18, 1845), born John Chapman, was an American pioneer nurseryman who introduced apple trees to large parts of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. He became an American legend while still alive, largely because of his kind and generous ways, his great leadership in conservation, and the symbolic importance he attributed to apples.
He was also a missionary for The New Church, or Swedenborgian Church, so named because it teaches the theological doctrines contained in the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.

Life in Liberty was musical in many ways.  Was it for you?  What are your musical memories?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day and The Mothers of Liberty: We Love You!

Happy Mothers Day!

Esther, Fanny, Mary, Ruth, Gladys, Evy, Pauline, Mickey, Joy, Norma, Bessie, Alvina, Pearl, Henrietta, Dee, Clara, Clara, Catherine, Corrie, Ruth, Ruth, Hilda, Hester, Margaret, Aunty, Lois, Jean, Evelyn and on and on.  These were some of the first names I remember of the "Mothers of Liberty" when I was a child.  Please add more and stories as you see fit in the comments section at the end of this entry.

It seemed to me that the Mothers of Liberty shared a lot with each other about home life and raising children.  They also learned formally together through Iris McCumber, the Home Extension Agent who shared the latest homemaking insights with these women.  On Back Street, the women also shared the knowledge about using weeping willow tree branches for switches to keep the neighborhood children in line.  "Go get me a switch from the weeping willow tree, and it better not be too small," I remember my mother saying when I stepped over the line with my behavior.

They could bake, sew and command as needed.  They could wait, pray and spew a bit of anger when their volunteer firefighter husbands went into United Fireworks to put out an explosive, dangerous fire.  They attended Women's Camp in Clarksville sometimes in the summer (My Grandma Mary Jonas loved to lead the women in singing at camp).

These women were present in our lives and in our community.  They taught us by example what mothers are and what they do.  They helped us to understand who we are.

On Mother's Day now many of these women are remembered through stories and photos and in graveyards.  I just had lunch with Mom (Esther), Mike and Paddy, Patrick and Spencer in Springboro at the China Cottage.  Mom wanted to make sure she got vegetables.  That's one not so subtle way to get a chance to be 85, eat your vegetables, Folks.  Thanks for the example, Mom.  Her mother, Fanny Clayton, was wheelchair bound as long as I knew her with severe rheumatoid arthritis but used her swollen hands to make all sorts of crafty items including Christmas ornaments from Meadowgold Dairy tin foil bottle caps and handmade greeting cards.  She crocheted doilies and painted knick knacks and a few pictures of her surroundings, including one still hanging on my mother's kitchen wall of Henry Bussey's cows and the IV tree, as we called it.  Grandma Clayton always ate vegetables, too.

I remember a song we sang in  Liberty EUB choir on Mother's Day, 1960.  I reflect on these words every Mother's Day, since Frances Wolf, our director asked me to sing  the first part as a solo, which I nervously did. The chorus swelled with love and honor as we thought about the meaning of Mother for each of us.  I couldn't find the name or rest of the words on the internet.  Who knows the name/ rest of the song?

Mother, Oh let me tell it once more
Tell it that all may know
Tell it, oft though I've told it before
All that to Mother I owe
Tell it gracefully.  Tell it tenderly.
Tell how I love you so.

Mother, What other name could there be
Mother, so full of meaning to me
Tend'rest, Dearest, Blessings Divine
Oh how I Love You,
Mother of mine.

God Bless the Mothers of Liberty and the meaning of their love and example for the Children of Liberty.