Tidbits from Then and Now
Rutland Herald, February 16,1931
Declares Cemetery Gamblers` Resort
Men Use Tombstones at West St. Plot as Card Tables, Woman States
"Desecrations that have continued at the West Street cemetery over a long period of years could be prevented by the construction of an adequate fence entirely around the burial plot," said Mrs. Helen Foye of Woodstock avenue a cemetery commissioner, when interviewed at her home yesterday.
"Some of the things that have occurred at that cemetery have disgraced the city," she declared.
"When you find grown men playing poker on a tombstone, children pitching tents over graves, women pasturing cows and goats, and neighbors dumping rubbish in a cemetery, it would seem that it was about time to put an end to such conditions," said Mrs. Foye.
"For years and years I have tried my best to keep the West Street cemetery in good condition. My father and mother are buried in that cemetery and for that reason, among many others, I have been saddened by the desecration there.
Steal From Soldiers Graves
"Can you believe one hour after flags and flowers were placed by Civil War veterans in the cemetery in honor of their comrades, children were snatching them from the graves and carried them to their homes nearby. That condition has prevailed here for the past couple of years. We do not dare place decorations in the cemetery, because they are stolen.
"I have gone to the cemetery time after time and asked children to desist from playing over the graves, but all they did was taunt me. Chief of Police Roy Leonard has always been willing to co-operate with me but when the police arrived at the cemetery, the children had fled."
Hang-Out for Drunks
"Drunkardsmake the place a hang-out. One spring there were about six bushels of bottles gathered up and taken out of the cemetery, where some of the most prominent citizens of Rutland’s of by-gone days are buried. In that cemetery are buried men such as Col. Hooker, Israel Smith, who served Vermont as governor, and nearly a dozen soldiers."
Receives Many Complaints
"Many people have come to me and complained about conditions at the cemetery. The work of Mr. Littler and myself has been hopeless because of insufficient fencing. Quite a few years ago we erected a barbed wire fence on the State street side to stop trespassers from entering from that point. The morning after the fence was built, we found one section of it cut completely to pieces."
"If the city would immediately construct an iron fence, such as is built in front of the plot on the Pine street, State street sides, I am sure that all the trouble would be ended. The cost, in the eyes of the city government might be considerable, but it would be the last as far as the West street cemetery was concerned. It would be a great investment for the future. I sincerely hope that it will be done. Then the gambling and drinking in the place of the dead will be ended."
Law Provides For Fines
The state law provides that when selectmen of a village neglect to keep in repair the fence around a public burial ground the town may be indicted for neglect by the grand jury of the county and fined no more than $100 or less than $50. The fine shall be used to take care of such repairs. Just what the status of a public cemetery without a fence on two sides would be something Mrs. Foye would like to have cleared up.
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