Day 35 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Sunday, April 19, 2020 – Live to Blog from No Where Near the Golf Course


If I can just manage a full swing, I’m pretty sure I can clear the houses.

Not really…but sometimes I do fantasize about it. We live about a block from a park…a very quiet park…actually, its a cemetery. Clemencia likes to refer to it as a “park” so it doesn’t creep out anyone. But, hey, let’s call it what it is…a cemetery. Still, I’m thinking, I should be able to launch a good drive from the deck that clears the houses between here and the “park.” One thing is for sure…once it clears the houses it probably won’t hit anyone in the “park.”


Reflections on My First Job: Gravedigger

Speaking of cemeteries, my first paying job was as a gravedigger’s assistant in my hometown. My dad happened to be the town’s gravedigger so, yes, there was a bit of nepotism in the work place. Of the various job’s I’ve had over my lifetime, it is the one that tends to turn heads when I mention it.

Elmwood Cemetery – Where I did some of my best grave digging work.

The tools of the trade were short-handled drain spades and digging shovels. Of course we didn’t use the fancy terms. We just referred to the former as a “spade” and the latter as a “shovel.” The spades were actually used for digging the grave while the shovels were used for removing the loose dirt from the floor of the grave.

Once we measured off the width and length of the grave, we’d start digging. The width and length was not the same for every grave. It varied slightly by the size of the vault that was going to be put into the hole. However, the depth was always the same. We would go down four spade lengths, which would be a little more than five feet or at about six feet, depending on whether the spade had a 16 inch blade or an 18 inch blade.

The grave would be dug in layers. The first could be the most difficult because we’d have to cut through the grass and its roots. We’d use a file to sharpen our spade before going to work on the first layer. A sharp blade made it much easier to cut through the grass root system. Iowa has incredibly rich top soil so you knew the grass root system could be formidable.

A bit more ominous view of Elmwood Cemetery. Not quite sure what that light is, but I don’t think I’d want to find out.

Except in winter when it was more than formidable, it was nearly impossible. Iowa winters can be cold and the ground can freeze very hard and deep. Especially in the winter, it would have made a lot of sense to use a backhoe but, as I remember it, the use of a backhoe in my hometown cemetery was not permitted. When it was really, really cold, we’d borrow kerosene heaters to use at the cemetery. We’d set them up over the outline of the grave. Overnight it would usually soften the ground enough to let us at least get a good start. Then we’d keep the heaters running to keep us warm.

Even in the cold though, once you got one spade down, it was normal digging through the next three. I was always fascinated by that. Sometimes it felt so cold that I couldn’t imagine the ground wouldn’t be frozen all the way to the center of the Earth. However, that wasn’t the case.

The toughest part of the digging was as you neared the end. First, you really couldn’t have two people in the hole digging anymore because they would continuously bump into each other. Then you usually began to run into clay, sometimes by the third spade but mostly by the fourth spade down. Also, you had to throw the dirt much higher to get it out of the hole. It got really, really bad if you hit water which sometimes happened.

So, there you have it! Your daily dose of mostly useless information. I hope that it never becomes useful to you.


And Now a COVID-19 Message from the Von Trapp Family

The Adventures of Chickeman – Episode 4

Chickenman (aka Benton Harbor) flies to Minneapolis but stops in at an airliner to ask for directions.


And now, to start off the week right, Some Good News with John Krasinski

You really want to watch the full 16 minutes of this episode. Especially if you are a “Hamilton” fan like Aubrey. Enjoy!


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep clear of Stupid People.

Tom

2 thoughts on “Day 35 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place”

  1. If you haven’t seen John Krasinski lip synching Tina Turner I highly recommend you do. He has her moves down pat. And looks way too good in that dress.

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