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Decorating and undecorating graves

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Objects on a tombstone

The weather was rainy in much of the Ozarks today, so I was glad that I had visited cemeteries of mine and my wife’s ancestors on Friday and Sunday.

Pam’s comment to my previous post mentioned the custom of leaving small stones on a tombstone to indicate that a visit was made. I have not seen this, but I saw the arrangement above on a tombstone at Snowdenville Cemetery in eastern Madison County, Missouri, which could have been the work of a groundskeeper who picked up things ahead of the mowers, or it could have been a loving tribute.

When I was sixteen or seventeen, I was hired to mow the Newtonia IOOF Cemetery in Newton County, Missouri. Removing the artificial flowers and the containers of real and artificial flowers, with lots of wire and accessories, was a tedious job, especially for a self-important teenager. In preparing the cemetery for Memorial Day, my mower frequently hit those items as I plowed through the thick spring grass, leaving me to pick up the shredded plaster and plastic pots and unwind the wires from my mower blade.

Many of those paid and unpaid people who maintain cemeteries would be able to do their work more safely and easily if those who leave items would make another visit to pick up those items. These items are decorative for only a few days.

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