Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
Thursday, May 17, 2012
by Kristin Buehner

Cemetery association workers toil to remove
weeds, get area ready for Memorial Day

PLYMOUTH - Weeding a cemetery garden is not for sissies.

Under a warm late-afternoon sun this week, members of the Plymouth Ladies Cemetery Association and a husband or two labored with spades, hoes and shovels to clear out grass and weeds from around the peonies, irises, phlox, lilies, mums and other flowers planted along the cemetery drive.

"The goal is to be done before Memorial Day," said club Secretary Terry SPRUNG about the association's annual spring ritual.

Betty GRAVERSEN, wearing a large straw hat and using a hand spade to weed, estimated she has helped out at the cemetery for at least 50 years as part of the Ladies Cemetery Association.

"Is there a mandatory retirement age here?" she joked. "I think I hit it."

Like many of the others, GRAVERSEN has family members buried there.

Oakwood Cemetery lies just north of the Bohemian Cemetery on the northern edge of Plymouth. Both use the same central driveway but have separate cemetery boards.

Neither is owned by the city.

In addition to the flowers in the driveway, the Ladies Cemetery Association also tends a gazebo in Oakwood Cemetery and a flag podium in the center of the two cemeteries. They also tend 12 urns planted with flowers.

In addition to weeding, Cemetery Association members fertilize, add peat to the soil and water the plants as needed, SPRUNG said. Members take turns tending the plants over the summer months.

On this day, Les GRAVERSEN, 84, handled the heavy work with his brother, Duane. Working with spades and a tiller, they were digging up a thick stock of grass that was encroaching on the garden.

Duane said he and Les, members of the Oakwood Cemetery Board, have helped in the cemetery gardens every year "since we were kids."

The Ladies Cemetery Association has a long history in Plymouth, organized not long after the Oakwood Cemetery was established in 1870.

The association put in the flower beds at the cemetery in 1896, Les GRAVERSEN said.

Money for plants is collected through $3 annual dues and donated through memorials and other gifts, Betty GRAVERSEN said.

Today, the association is down to just a few members, several of whom were planning to help out later in the day when they got off work.

"This is the big project," SPRUNG said.

One of the newer members, Dianna ANDERSON, said she helps out at the cemetery because it's the right thing to do.

"My husband is out here and I want to do my part," she said.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2012



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