Union and West End Cemetery

The Union and West End Cemetery is located in center city Allentown. The main entrance is on 10th Street at 10th and Chew Streets. The cemetery is mantained by a dedicated group of volunteers. Ten board members (also volunteers) serve the cemetery association and manage the finances, make application for grants, solicit donations and participate in the maintenance of the cemetery.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Occassionally Something Stupid Happens

This was not a typical Sunday morning in the cemetery. It started out fairly normal, there were about nineteen helpers in the cemetery from 8 a.m. until about 11 a.m. courtesy of the Allentown Community Corrections Center. It had rained off and on during the evening and the grass was very wet, so a decision was made not to take out any riding lawn mowers. Most of the men were put into the cemetery with weed-whackers and a couple of push mowers. Others were assigned to a team that would place downed stones back on their pedestals.

In a supervisory position, I was overseeing the weed whackers who were concentrating on the "corrals", for the most part. A corral is a family plot16' X 16' that is completely enclosed with concrete posts and metal railings. A corral is a very difficult plot to maintain in a cemetery because the railings prevent any large equipment from entering. As a result, they are frequently allowed to become overgrown before they are addressed.

So, today, the task was to cut the grass in every corral in the cemetery using weed-whackers and push mowers. As I stated above, I was, for the most part, supervising and directing, but used the Scag Commercial mower to ride herd on the volunteers and to cut some grass around the corrals.

When the allotted three hours was up, all of the volunteers cleaned and put away their equipment. To help in the cleaning, we use a air compressor to blow grass off the equipment and also to air tires that are low. But mostly it is used for blowing off equipment and volunteers. When weed-whacking in wet grass, the clothes one wears tend to get more than a little grass-stained. Some of the volunteers were using the compressor to attempt to clean their pants, and I became impatient to put away the Scag. I saw an opening, although it meant driving over the bright orange hose connected to the compressor. This would not ordinarily be a problem except for the fact that the deck on the Scag was in the lowest position and the three blades were churning as fast as they could go. I failed to realize that, after using the Scag to clean off the driveway, I had neither shut off the blades nor lifted the deck as would be appropriate when putting a riding lawn mower in the garage.

Whoa! The Scag collected up the hose, jerking the nozzle out of the hands of the unsuspecting volunteer, and wrapping yards of the hose around all three blades. The Scag came to a halt. The driver said; Oh Heck! or words to that effect as he realized what he had done. Fortunately no one was hurt in the incident, but the driver of the Scag was mortified. As he surveyed the damage, the volunteers were departing; one looked back and said: "Good Luck with that!"

Good Luck, indeed. There was nothing lucky about the sordid incident except that no one was injured. Aside from that, the cemetery has a new hose for the compressor courtesy of the Scag driver.

The Blogger, also known as the Scag Driver sitting confident on the Scag.
He wasn't as confident or cocky after gathering up the compressor hose.

But don't let this incident cause you any concern. The cemetery needs volunteers to help maintain the premises. It isn't all hard work and toil. We actually find many rewarding moments in the cemetery. At the end of the day, there is always that feeling of having accomplished something, something special.

And yes there are humorous incidences as well. My fellow board members are surely not going to let me hear the last of my blunder with the compressor hose. This season of grass cutting is winding down, but come next spring, if you are in the Lehigh Valley area, come out and join us. We could always use another pair of hands.

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