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New wish list for historic EU Cemetery’s upkeep

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POSTED April 4, 2010 1:51 a.m.
The unselfish acts of many volunteers concerned about the preservation of the resting place of many area pioneers has rescued East Union Cemetery from disrepair – at least, thus far.

While there was finally some good news at the recent general membership meeting after two years of roughly eking through financial woes that threatened to deep-six the cemetery founded by pioneers in the mid-1800s, members of the new cemetery board stressed that they continue to need the help of volunteers for the hallowed ground’s continued upkeep and to get going on landscaping improvements that are now under way.

To those ends, the cemetery association at the last meeting came up with their latest wish list enumerating the specific tasks and projects that generous souls in the community can do to help. The list includes the following:

•Volunteers to help do the weeding. “We need help weed-eating because it’s spring when everything grows quickly” due to the recent rains, said Evelyn Prouty, the director of the Manteca Historical Society and Museum who gets the lion’s share of the credit in the cemetery’s maintenance since June 2008 when the troubles began, not to mention being personally involved in digging graves for 48 burials to date that includes five funerals in six days just a week ago. Mowing the grass is the easy part. Where many hands are needed is in the removal of the grasses growing around the headstones which the mower can’t reach.  That’s a task that needs the help of a Weed-eater. With Memorial Day coming up fast, the cemetery board would like to see this resting place of many of the area’s early pioneers spruced up for the solemn holiday’s observance on May 31. Someone suggested spraying the weeds with Round-up, but the board gave that a thumbs-down because it would turn the grass into an unsightly brown and the lime on the headstones white. Round-up is only used around the fences.

•Volunteers to “prune the palm trees.” There are half a dozen of the towering trees whose dead fronds need to be removed not only for aesthetic reasons but even more so for safety, Prouty pointed out. “Every time the wind blows, the (dried) palms fall down and they’re dangerous,” she said. She added jokingly that no one on the cemetery board is brave enough to climb up the trees and get the job done.

•The cemetery wants to install signs similar to the street signs in Lathrop to help cemetery visitors find the resting place of their loved ones. The board would prefer metal street signs that won’t fall apart.

•Also in connection with the upcoming Memorial Day service, the plan is to plant some annuals around the gazebo area and by the office. Donations would be needed to purchase these plants.

•Likewise in conjunction with the Memorial Day observance at the cemetery, volunteers will be needed to place the 298 flags on the grave sites of veterans. The holiday will be on a Monday but they will start placing flags the Saturday before that. Prouty said the hard part of this task is in looking for the veterans’ grave sites because not all of them have head stones that easily identify them as one.

Anyone who wishes to help in any of the above wish-list items or to make a donation, call (209) 823-8533 or send checks to the East Union Pioneer Cemetery, 1035 North Union Road, Manteca, CA 5336-3575.
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