Random Thoughts

Rememberance of Memorial Day

... to all who have fallen and others.

by Ed Boyd

When I was about fourteen, I got a job in a graveyard called Woodlawn. The East side of Everett carried the name, Woodlawn. You could smell the ocean on an east breeze as Woodlawn was close to Revere beach.

I didnít know anything about working in a cemetery. There were three of us with very little working experience. The foreman said he would show us what we needed to do. The major task was raising graves. After the snow had melted from the winter, grass would begin popping up. Joe, the foreman, pointed out a grave that had sunken in, leaving a shallow hole. Joe told us this is what we should be looking for. He began digging around the sunken depression, shoveling the sod from the hole. There was a pile of dirt and several sod pieces that had been put there. Joe filled the hole with dirt and then began placing sod on top. Then, Joe held a long handle with a flat bottom that was used to tamp down the sod. When he had finished you would not know there was ever a sunken hole.  

I really donít remember if it occurred to me at that time, sixty-five years ago, the meaning of a sunken grave. It must have seeped into my thoughts, but only fleetingly. When I was so young I did not want it touching me that sunken holes meant decayed flesh and bones. Only later did I appreciate that the work we were doing was to prepare the sacred turf for Memorial Day.

In the mid-West and in New England the winter is frozen and covered with snow for about six months. With the thaw in spring, a shovel could get sunk in the sod. A bunch of us kids were hired to manicure the graveyard for Memorial Day. After the deep winter, those that had loved ones buried in any cemetery would want to pay a visit. Raising graves was one of the big jobs but the grass was cut and many flowers would suddenly appear. Little American flags would be placed on those plots to signify those who had fallen in war.

June 3, 2011

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