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May 19, 1998

With the arrival of Memorial Day next Monday, gravesites everywhere will be decorated for solemn observances in tribute to our honored dead. It is one of 10 federal legal public holidays designated by the U. S. Congress. For Mt. Carmel Cemetery, one of Noble county's community graveyards, this one will have special meaning. It is their centennial year anniversary.

The Mt. Carmel Cemetery is located seven miles north of Perry on I-35 and a half-mile west. The actual beginning dates back to a meeting on February 24, 1898, when residents of the area met to discuss the possibility of organizing an association and establishing a community cemetery. To commemorate the 100th year of existence, today's members of the association will meet at the cemetery at 10 a.m. next Monday. All interested persons are invited to attend.

Nita Roesler, the current vice president, says the association was formally organized on April 4, 1898, after two preliminary meetings. The Territory of Oklahoma issued a certificate of organization to the group on that same date. A deed for the Mt. Carmel Cemetery property was presented to the association on January 7, 1899, a gift from Frank and Barbara Blecha. Mrs. Roesler showed me ledgers with all records of the association, including minutes of each meeting, dating back to that very first one in February 1898. A copy of the original warranty deed from the Blechas also is in the files.

Minutes of the association meetings are historically important, but the early records, all in a neat handwritten form, are fading with the passage of time. Fortunately Nita and other local folks have spent several hours transcribing the burial logs onto a computer file. The old minutes are important, too, and they contain names of a few of those who were involved in the 1898 organizational process. John Crain was named temporary chairman; A. D. Cowell was temporary secretary; and G. A. Barnes was temporary treasurer. A five-member committee was named to solicit funds "to fence and fix up the cemet(e)ry." On the committee were J. J. Cowell, Mirmor Crain, G. A. Barnes, Harry Good and George Ankle. Today the officers are Tom Abbott, Tulsa, president; Nita Roesler, Perry, vice president; Pauline Sanders, Ponca City, secretary; Jacqueline M. Shouse, Blackwell, treasurer; Clifton Smith, Enid, board member; Lillian Bennett, Blackwell, and Clara Shelton, Perry, ex-officio board members.

Community cemeteries were established in many areas throughout Noble county in the early days, and their logs of burials are important records for many reasons. Some of these cemeteries probably have vanished during the past 100 years, but the Mt. Carmel Cemetery Association is an excellent example of the recognition and the importance of preserving documents for posterity. Members of the group would be pleased to have you join them next Monday morning at 10 o'clock for their special anniversary.

On now to another subject. My thanks to all of you who offered suggestions for the dispersal of those two robins who spent several weeks banging their little heads against the windows on the west side of our house. They are no longer in evidence, and we suspect they may be nesting. Zella Aigner was among those who brought possible remedies to our attention. She suggested hanging a toy rubber snake in the area where the birds assault a window pane, and she said a friend told her strips of ribbons will have the same effect.

Makes me think of a way to prevent flies from bothering you while you're enjoying a backyard cookout. This one comes from a barbecue we attended on a ranch near the Palo Duro Canyon at Amarillo, Texas. The chuck wagon gang out there on the prairie hangs Ziploc-type plastic bags of water beneath the serving tables and suspended from rafters in the eating pavilion, and the area is free of flies. No one knows exactly how this works, but others tell me they have tried it on their patios and it does indeed do the job.