Thursday, June 30, 2011

Our First Membership Event

The Tolomato Cemetery Preservation Association has been in existence for somewhat under a year, and we already have a goodly number of members and volunteers.  So we thought it was time to host a special event at Tolomato Cemetery just for members and their guests.
Yesterday, June 29, was the day!  Unfortunately, it was also a day full of drenching rains and the occasional thunderstorm, most of them right at the time that the members were supposed to start arriving at the cemetery.
So attendance wasn’t what we had hoped, but those who came out despite the rain got a real historical treat, with talks about the cemetery and even an 18th century soldier (also known as John Cipriani) standing by. 
Nick McAuliffe presented a talk on Tolomato Then and Now, using historic photographs, mostly from the late 19th century (around 1880) to contrast how Tolomato had looked in the days when it was a forest of wooden crosses and grave enclosures, and how it looks now.  Locating the photos at the points from which they had been taken, he pointed out the changes, the lost markers, and the additions that had occurred over the 130+ years since the photos were taken.
Here we see Nick giving his talk while our 18th century solider and Louise Kennedy watch from under a nice comfy umbrella.  Incidentally, the rain did taper off, and most of the rest of the evening was a little damp and drippy under the trees, but very cool and pleasant.
June 29 Event
Elizabeth Gessner gave a presentation on her translation of the 1811 cemetery plan (below) created by the Spanish authorities, probably in cooperation with Fr Miguel O’Reilly, the pastor of the parish at that time.   This plan was never carried out (1811/12 was not a good year for the Spanish!), but shows an elaborate design for a new cemetery on or just behind the site of the current Tolomato Cemetery.  Dr. Jim Cusick, who attended the event, is going to search for more information on the  map and thinks he may be able to determine the engineer who created it.
1811 Map
Finally, Matt Armstrong talked about our preservation activities, both past and planned for the future.  This included whipping out a bottle of D/2, the magic headstone cleaner, from under his jacket. He got the group so enthusiastic about it that Priscilla de la Cruz was able to collect the names of a long list of people who want to hear about the next preservation workday.

Louise Kennedy just sent me the following photo of the three speakers (Nick, Elizabeth and Matt) standing around our resident harpist, Mary Jane Ballou.

So while the rain cut down on attendance, the event was great, and Sue Howden, Carol Lopez Bradshaw, Louise Kennedy and Moises Stzylerman made the brave guests feel welcome, while Mary Jane Ballou played the harp on the porch of the Varela Chapel to distract them from their slight sogginess.

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