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 Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

Go see your old people, write it down

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew
For reasons not understood yet, the past month has provided several incidents in which cemeteries were included. As I review the various happenings it gets a bit spooky at best.

In preparation for filming a Western movie here at the ranch's Old Jericho Town movie site, one scene called for a Boot Hill. So I created 11 headstones, wooden crosses and grave markers then installed them in our newly designated Jericho Boot Hill just south of the old town city limits in the canyon. Boy does it look real! While working on these items in my shop making up names and chipping away at the famous R.I.P. stones I had a few chuckles imagining the outlandish ways the inhabitants died. Don't laugh as much real history sounds just as weird.

When the movie script called for an undertaker and his wares, (caskets), I made three coffins for display in his place of business. One fancy coffin, a child's coffin and the famous "Toothpick Coffin" made of rough unfinished planks. Though during my life I have built almost everything imaginable, this was a new experience for me.

Another incident involving our son Glenn, an architect near Austin who e-mailed us that during a current remodeling job on a Hill Country mansion, they asked him to inspect an old cemetery located on the property. After some study the owners decided to clean, repair and revitalize the site and purchased period wrought iron fencing for enclosure. Glenn is to document the names of those buried, repair and replace headstones and register the information with the State Historical Commission. Now, that is true historical preservation at its best.

With spring just around the corner, I'm reminded of my annual chore of cleaning the 1896 Eldridge Cemetery on McClellan Creek - the oldest cemetery in Gray County. I sort of adopted the site several years ago and try to clean it once a year. Sadly, it is still recovering from the vast range fires of 2006 which was the second time the graveyard has burned in recent history.

While attending a funeral at the McLean Hillcrest Cemetery recently I noticed the Trew plot needed some attention. A trip to Clarendon provided sacks of gray gravel and cement for repair. The old plot is filled now with grandparents, parents, uncle and a cousin. A second plot has been purchased awaiting the next generation.

The hour spent working at the site was flooded with memories of the past and about the different people who had influenced my life in so many ways. Once again, I wished I had spent more time with my various ancestors listening to their stories about my roots and traditions. I urge each of you, don't wait. Go see your old people and write it down.

Now, I ask you? With all these "cemetery incidents" arriving within such a short period of time, should I be a bit more cautious about buying green bananas?

Delbert Trew

"It's All Trew" March 31, 2008 Column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.

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