Feb 6, 2013

A Blog and a Cemetery

About ten years ago, I began searching for the grave of a young Jewish woman, who died around 1900. Among several Jewish cemeteries no longer in use, I searched Mt. Sinai, a small section of the sprawling Fairview Cemetery on Lehigh Street, just west of the 8th Street Bridge. The cemetery is the history of Allentown past, including the graves of Harry Trexler, John Leh, and Jack Mack. As one proceeded deeper into the cemetery, away from sight on Lehigh Street, conditions worsened. As is the case with many old cemeteries, fees paid for perpetual care, 100 years ago, were long gone. Complicating the situation, the current private operator wasn't particularly assessable. In addition to extended family members upset about conditions, the situation was compounded by his refusal, with few exceptions, to allow private upkeep. My early posts on the situation drew response and phone calls from people with no interest in local political blogs; They were just exasperated relatives, with a family member buried long ago at Fairview. After beginning a series of posts, and letters to the editor, I prevailed upon The Morning Call to write a story one year later. The Call's story appeared on August 11, 2008. Within two weeks, the cemetery operator agreed to a public meeting I had organized at a local church. Arrangements were made between the operator and several parties. As with several of Allentown's older cemeteries, the issue of maintenance will be ongoing. This would be a worthwhile project for City Hall.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why aren't Allentown's wonderful
and influential Jewish community helping with this issue?

michael molovinsky said...

@7:37, the jewish section is very small; there are private family plots elsewhere in the cemetery as large.never the less, the jewish federation is maintaining the historic jewish graves, and was represented at the meeting. the cemetery is very large, i believe about 23 acres. even the trexler trust will not assume financial responsibility for the cemetery, beyond trexler's grave. furthermore, as i indicated, the operator is reluctant about outside workers there. i believe he thinks that if one section is groomed beyond the rest, it emphasizes the unkempt portion. look only at the west end cementary, at 12th and chew, to see the problems with old cemeteries.

Anonymous said...

Michael,
As you know, our Veterans Organization replaces weather worn and tattered American flags, including damaged Markers there. Twice yearly before Memorial Day and Veterans day. We clean up and clear away what we can of the accumulated trash. But it is a daunting task with only several hours of volunteer help. The owner should apply to the City and perhaps the County for help for this Historic site. Since the responsibility & final decision lies with him as owner....PJF

Juan Luis Pedro Felipo de Huevos Epstein said...

Did you ever find that woman's plot?

michael molovinsky said...

mr. epstein, i did eventually find it. it was quite a story, which i wrote a post about. i will reprint the post in the near future.

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