The Dash Between The Years
By Phyllis Mattheis
You’ve heard about how people spend their lives in that dash between their birth and death years on their cemetery stones?
To prepare Riverside for the walk on Sunday, June 26, Jerry and I have been cleaning stones so that names and dates are revealed. It’s a puzzle why some stones are so covered that nothing can be read, and yet one next to it may be clear. The green lichen scrapes off fairly easily on the smooth parts but it takes some digging to get it off the names and dates. We are spraying most stones with a bleach mixture after we’ve removed most of the loose material, then we scrub them with water and a plastic scrub brush. It is rewarding to see the names and dates clear again.
And those dashes bring questions to mind. Why did a child die so young? What happened to the teenager who didn’t live to maturity? Why did a father die at a young age? How did his wife feel being a widow for a very long time? Did she have help raising their children? Why would a person put only their death year on their stone?
The larger stones make one think that a family must have been wealthy. But they still lost family members. We each have only one life to live that makes that dash on our own stone someday.
As of June 9, we have cleaned forty-seven stones and a set of steps in three trips to Riverside. The community is invited to spend an hour or two helping to clean the stones. There are plenty for everyone! Just pick out one to start with, and you may do the whole family and wonder about their history.
The new library has an obituary file that may give you clues about a family’s history here in Cambridge City. Visit the History Room on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 2 and 4 p.m.
I was gratified to find the Mosbaugh names on stones that were completely covered with lichen. Frank was a newspaper man and lived in East Cambridge. And surprise! I found another newspaper man, Roy Copeland. Share your stories about the names and dates that you uncover in Riverside. And join us for the afternoon walk on Sunday, June 26 to learn about some of the prominent people that helped make our community a pleasant place to live.
Check back in to GoWayneCounty.com to read more about the history of Cambridge City and the events planned for this very special week, that started today and ends on July 3rd with special fireworks. You can also read more stories like this in the GWC print edition.