“I can only tell you what I believe down deep in my soul that memories endure, keeping special people with you always.  Unknown


By, Gerry Roe

A tombstone marks a place of burial.  It is also sometimes called a foot stone, a grave marker, a gravestone, a headstone, a ledger, or a monument.  When my mother’s baby brother Robert Isaacs died in 1917, shortly after his birth. His burial site was marked by a Mason glass fruit jar.

I am sure that many of you have driven down the road and seen a cross or bouquets of flowers placed at the site where someone has died. Those are different than a tombstone for they mark the place of death, not the place of burial.

Today many grieving families choose cremation over burials when their loved ones die. Thus, many deceased persons do not have a tombstone to mark their final resting place. However, there are several old tombstones marking the graves of my ancestors and other family members. Their names are eroding away, and the stones are becoming difficult to read. One day it will be impossible to read them, and no one will know the name of the person buried there.

My parents, Henry David Roe and Ruby Isaacs Roe, are buried at Fir Grove Cemetery in Cottage Grove Oregon. My eldest brothers Eugene Roe, and Herman Frank Roe were cremated. Frank’s ashes have a final resting place at Willamette National Cemetery in Happy Valley, Oregon. My brother Kenneth David Roe, cremated but his ashes laid to rest in Fir Grove Cemetery. His headstone is in the row below the grave of our parents, as will be mine when I am cremated. My sister Nannie Elizabeth Roe Cross’s will be buried in the plot next to our parents.

My brothers Henry Alan Roe and William Gordon Roe both live in states other than Oregon. Henry Alan, who goes by Alan, is my youngest brother. He once owned the Capitol Monument Company in Salem Oregon.  He suggested that we commission a new marker to replace the headstones that mark the graves of our parents. He suggested that the new marker include the names of our parents along with the names of all their children.  I found that to be a wonderful suggestion.

I think my parents would be pleased. They would be proud to have the names of all their children preserved with theirs. I am working hard to make that happen.

Closing thought:

Remembrance of those in past can be honored in many ways.  Have you thought about how you want to honor those in your past?

UPDATE : After I published this post my sister-in-law Carol Forrand Roe emailed me the following statement. “Bill and my cremated remains will be in Western Nevada Veterans Cemetery, Fernley Nevada A beautifully maintained spot for eternity.”  Carol

Carol is married to my older brother William Gordon Roe. We call him Bill.

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By Betsy Cross Thorpe

“I hate to see the evening sun go down,” from, The Saint Louis Blues by W.C. Handy


It was the night of March 24, 1980. Day 142 of the Iranian Hostage Crisis.  Me and my husband Peter were staying at my grandmother’s house in Cottage Grove Oregon. We had just moved back to Oregon after living in Austin Texas for four years and were staying with my grandmother until we found a place to live.

 My Uncle Frank was also staying at my grandmother’s house. He had recently retired from the Navy after thirty years of service. His oldest daughter Susan was attending the University of California in Berkley at the time. He planned to move his wife Yasue and his youngest daughter Joy from their home in San Diego California to a new home Springfield Oregon.

He was staying with her while he looked for a house to buy.

My grandmother’s television set was on in the living room and the four of us gathered around it to watch the premier episode of Nightline. It was a new late-night news show that would soon become the most popular news show in America.

The next evening, we had a bowl of pinto beans and buttermilk cornbread for supper. After we were finished eating and the table was cleared of dishes, Peter picked up his guitar. My grandmother loved music.

 Whenever the two of them got together she would ask him to sing with her. He would play his guitar while she sang along.

 On this evening his guitar was out of tune. He hummed an old blues tune while he turned the tuning pegs on his guitar.  

My grandmother came out of the kitchen. I “know that song” she said, “my papa used to sing it.” With his guitar in tune, Peter stummed the melody he was humming while from the dining room doorway we heard the mournful sound of my grandmother’s singing voice.   “I hate to see the evening sun go down” she wailed.

 She belted out the lyrics to The Saint Louis Blues with the bluesiest voice I had ever heard her use.

Later that night while we were waiting to watch the second episode of Nightline I asked my grandmother how her papa learned to sing and play The Saint Louis Blues.

I knew it was one of the most popular songs of 1918, but I didn’t understand how such a song became known to people like my great grandfather at a time when there was no radio shows or television programs to promote and advertise it.

“Peddlers” she said. “Music peddlers would come around and sell copies of sheet music. They knew that almost every family had someone who could play the piano, or fiddle and they would stop at most houses and sell sheet music of the newest songs.”

The television cast a soft glow in the corner of her dimly lit living room, while she sat in her rocking chair near  me, my uncle and my husband. We watched as the words, Day  143 of the Iranian Hostage Crisis filled up the screen. We listened as the newscaster announced, “This is ABC News Nightline, reporting from Washington D.C. here is Ted Koppel.”

Thinking back on what she told me  about sheet music makes realize  how much the world changed over the course of her life.

 How did she feel  about  the technical advancements that were made  in the forty two years that passed from the time her papa bought a copy of The Saint Louis Blues  sheet music from a door to door peddler  to the time that the four of us sat in her living room  and watched live news from Iran unfold before our eyes. We watched while viewers all accross the country watched Ted Koppel the same time as us.

Popular culture had really changed since she was a little girl and it is my regret that I didn’t have the foresight or the brainpower to think to ask how she felt about that.

 And now she is gone and I will never know.

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