|Below I have said very little about the condition of this cemetery which right now it's winter and freezing out and the ground is probably frozen over by now; but looks like they have a drainage problem and if they do not do something about this who knows what is going to happen to the graves and the tombstones marking this section in Mt. Hope Cemetery.|
Parts of Dottie's Email:
Thanks so much for your reply! I love your name as well--it sounds so...SWANK. Fancy!
As of now, I have sent off a letter of complaint to the cemetery. It is actually in the city of Chicago on the far south side, just off Kedzie Avenue. The actual address is 115th and Fairfield, and you should be able to locate it easily from I-57. I will attach a map from Mapquest, as well as the file of the letter I sent a few days ago to the owner of the cemetery. I am outraged that this little baby, and so many others who cannot speak for themselves, have been left in such condition while the monuments to greed and good fortune stand tall out in front. I have drawn a square on the map around the area in question.
I would love to see the pictures online to shame them. May I only ask for perhaps a week to see if we get an answer from them (give them enough rope to hang themselves with). If I hear from them in that time, I'll let you know immediately what they said. If not, load those pictures up! I won't go public until they give me excellent reason to by not answering me in a reasonable amount of time. My sister, who lives in Bradley, IL near Kankakee, has also been working on this and is waiting a reply from the governor (she wrote him after the Comptroller blew us off, asking why they have rules that no one is willing to enforce) as well as the Attorney General. I have a feeling there's going to be more than enough shame to go around. I just want to be sure the Comptroller gave me accurate information about them having a long history of neglect and didn't just tell me that to get rid of me. Seems the state government up there could use a huge overhaul.
I can also send you the original, individual files of the pictures if the sheet format they are in now are too small or don't show up well. Just let me know. The only contacts I've had at the cemetery are those who happen to work at the office; they are alternately polite or indifferent depending on the day, but we still suspect they hold back information. The day my sister was there looking for the grave the first time, another couple (black) was in the area and looking for a loved one. They could not find the section they were told she was in, and my sister offered to let them use her map. They said, "They gave you a map?!" I'm wondering if there's not something else also going on here that we thought died with the 60s. My sister asked the office for a copy of the burial record, and this was a day they weren't feeling helpful and told her she couldn't have it. She asked why and they told her "Because we don't do that." She looked up information on the web and found a state law that says if she is a relative, pays a fee and requests the record in writing, they HAVE to give it to her. She sent them that information in a letter, certified to be sure they got it (or hang them with it), and waited until she got confirmation that it had been delivered. She called and was told they could send her the record; she said she'd drive up there and get it herself.
The woman that day, she said, "couldn't have been nicer" but told her all they had was this 3x5 card with the location of the grave on it, no records as far as burial contracts, etc. We wanted to know if she was in a vault in case we decided to move her, and if she EVER had a headstone. She said also that the woman seemed embarrassed about the reception she'd gotten the previous time she was there, so I don't think the place is COMPLETELY corrupt. (A groundskeeper, however, told my sister he was told to stop complaining about the condition of that part of the cemetery or he'd be fired. He's probably undocumented, so what can he do? I don't want to make life worse for the only person who seemed to tell us the truth.)
However, the woman still said they didn't have the records (or are they hiding them?) and perhaps the funeral home that handled the funeral did. "Pass the buck", was how we were feeling by then. Luckily, the home was still around--Krueger's, in Blue Island. My sister went there and asked for the record, and while they did not SHOW her the record, keeping it in the back office and only "reporting" to her what it said, they told her there was no record of a vault (the man she spoke to had to ask his grandfather about practices back then, if vaults were even in use, and he told them it was not practice, especially for infants.) or headstone. They seemed puzzled as to why the cemetery would not have the record (mind you, I've been to MANY cemeteries in that area in the past and never had trouble obtaining burial records) , and were shocked when she told them the cemetery she was complaining about for its condition was Mt. Hope. They didn't seem to be aware of anything wrong over there, and I assume they do business with them often due to their location. But pictures don't lie. And that didn't happen because of one snow fall, or even one burst water main (if that story is true).
Now, my mother seemed to talk pretty clearly the last time she saw the grave in the 80s about her sister's MARKER being sunken and under water. It reduced her to tears--my sister recalls the day clearly when she came home crying. The funeral home would not know if a marker was put there later; the cemetery WOULD. A cousin says there was a vase, no marker. When it was finally located, with a worker having to go out with what appears to have been a post hole digger that he kept plunging into the ground until he "hit" something solid (see picture, attached, of her vase after a cousin, who was also alerted, visited and put flowers there), it was under nearly a foot of soil, as I've been told. That also does not happen with one snowfall. Luckily we found out they had been totally inaccurate with the location of the grave, and at least she was one that was not underwater. The area was unusually wet, a week after a snowmelt, but who knows how it was before then? The area shown in the pictures I sent were still under water then. I do know, once my sister told me where she was ultimately found (by the worker who told them the map she had was completely wrong, according to the grave number she was given) that the area she IS in had trash strewn about it. I saw it when it had almost a foot of snow on it, but could still tell something was VERY wrong. I'm attaching a picture of a tree I know is close by, with some kind of metal coil trash under it. I could also see burned out tree stumps, temporary grave covers thrown over piles of trash and left (at least I assume trash was under them; it looked like it; my sister found two graves, however, that were recent and had not been covered decently--they are in her photos that I sent), so who knows? I think it was someone at the cemetery who suggested perhaps my aunt was buried for free because she was a baby and it was the Depression. I don't know what point they were making--that perhaps if that was the UNLIKELY case, she somehow deserves to be left like this? What about all the others, much more recent (as in, like, 2001), who are underwater right now?
I'm frustrated that I'm down here in Oklahoma and can't be there to wrangle these people myself in person. I feel it's our duty as family to speak for those who have no voice. I have had experience with this before, here. After 20 years in the army, my husband passed away in a car accident (12 years ago Sunday) on the way home from his own father's funeral in Utah. We lived in Washington state at the time. We ended up here in Oklahoma once we were "put out" of government, on-base housing, with a sister of his who lived here. A year later I had him moved here so my kids didn't feel so lonely for him--we had 6, ranging from 1 to 17 at the time. The cemetery here allowed his grave to "settle" to the point it was caved in at the foot, and I could SEE the vault. Okay, graves are going to settle. Well, get out there and fix it then! I paid for perpetual care! I had to go back to that office time and time again, and they did nothing. It was nearing Memorial Day and I told them I will not have my kids getting nightmares looking at that grave that they wanted to decorate with flowers on Memorial day. I gave them one option--fix the grave, THAT DAY, or I would come out there with my 6 kids, a load of dirt, shovels for all of us, and the local television newscrew (it's a small town; they're always looking for a story anyway). It was done within two hours. Somehow, I don't think Hope is going to be quite as easy to bully into doing the right thing, as there is more than enough evidence that they can make excuses and pass the buck along with the best of them.
Well, I thank you for the time it takes to read this novel and for whatever assistance you can offer. I will let you know as soon as I hear anything from the cemetery--or not.
I am publishing Dorothea's email just how she emailed to me with no offense to anyone. We are just publishing the facts and telling it like it is. We would like something done. You are more than welcome to view the photos below to see for yourself. Plus, you can complain to the address given above on the cemetery.