Memorialization I have only hurrahs for Life Magazine, Jessica Mitford, and the others who have struck out against the unctuous exploiters of death sadness, the funeral directors. Nothing can be more noisome, than playing on the disarrayed emotions of those who have just lost a loved one to persuade them, for reasons of conformity, dollar-sign respect of the dead, or embarassment, to spend a huge sum on a burial. The corpse business is so well organized, you can’t save any money by cremation in Texas, and the very idea of getting a corpse stashed away in a plain pine box has sunk out of sight as a possibility. In a review this issue, Anders Saustrup reviews one of the books now out on the corpse business, and notes that one way out seems to be memorial societies, cooperatives for the simple, decent, respectful, and inexpensive burial of the dead. I cannot think of a more appropriate application of the cooperative idea. Now, however, comes to hand a fivecolumn advertisement placed in the Amarillo daily for Sept. 23 by the Llano Ceme..tery and Mausoleum. A father is praying over the bowed head of his young son, saying, “My dear son, I am so sorry you are going to have to live ‘under Communism. It seemed to come so quickly. I didn’t think their lies could win.” The text of the ad below this touching scene saysread it, yes, this is really what it says \(the capital “No Nation has ever turned to Communism, Socialism, or Fascism until the leaders have first been able to destroy MEMORIALIZATION. “The dignity of man, the freedom of life and the worship of Godthese principles on which our nation was foundedthroughout all ages and in all lands have never 16 The Texas Observer The Negro school at Joaquin in the 1920’s was, I suppose, typical of the colored schools in this area. The building was a scruffy looking frame building that had long ago been given a one-coat white paint job. As I remember it, the effect was more of whitewash. Most of the window panes were goneeven some of the sashes. Out in the yard a hand pump ‘furnished .the school’s water. It was not difficult to pump, as the school was located in a low area not far from the Sabine River and the water table was near the surface. After a rain the water came up to the surface around the base of the pump. The outdoor toilet was conveniently located a few yards away. Each fall about six weeks after the white school opened, the Negro school would begin. On the day after the Negro children registered a small delegation of the larger students would come to the white school with two sacks to get their year’s supply of books. These books were kept in a basement room near the boiler room. During rainy spells the water would rise a foot or so in this room and many of the books became water soaked. This didn’t hurt them much, as they were the cast off, worn out old ‘ books which the white children had discarded. Most of them had the backs torn off. Very few had all pages still intact. For several years it was my job to sack up these books and give them to the Negro students_ to take back to their school. The books were not sorted, they were not selected according to the course being studied. Even if the books had been in perfect condition, it is doubtful if the required subject matter was covered. I remember once the Negro principal complained that he had not received the necessary number of mathematics texts. He was told that the children could double up and several use one text. He complained that while he had received more readers than he needed for the grammar grades, he had not received enough of one kind so that the students of each grade could be studying the same reader at the same time. He was told that this would be seen to. I do not know what the outcome was. But this was not the only indignity the children were subjected to. The white students passing them in the hall or seeing them in the book storage room would make slighting remarks, laugh and giggle, and make improper remarks. I remember quite well once a small girl came with her tow sack. In the bottom of the sack was a large hole. I had no string to tie it with, so she took a red ribbon from her hair and gave it to me. I tied it the best I could and put a large book in the bottom to keep the smaller ones from falling out. As she walked out the door of the building the whole bottom of her sack tore loose and the books spilled upon the floor. As she bent over to pick up the ragged old books, all the white children and the teachers could see that she had on no underwear. The white students began laughing and jeering at her and calling attention to her predicament. The child was terrified with embarrassment. As quickly as she could she gathered the books into the sack. Holding the top and the bottom to keep them from spilling out again, she held the bag awkwardly against her stomach and tried to walk as fast as she could. She did her best to keep the others from seeing that she was sobbing and crying desperately. I have felt like a cowardly fool since that day because I made no effort to help her. Richard W. Wharton, Box 45, Joaquin, Texas. Halp! Please rush me a subscription to the Texas Observer before I am sterilized and rendered insensible by the Dallas News! This is an emergency! Thank you.Loy . A. Williams, Perkins Hall, Room 208, S.M.U., Dallas, Tex. We think your Oct. 4 issue was the best; humanistically speaking, of your many fine numbers. . . . Mrs. Klipple’s piece [“I ful.Carl Brannin, 5614 Ridgedale, Dallas 6, Tex. been any greater than the MEMORIALIZATION shown in death. “Many so-called ‘memorial societies’ are trying to destroy this MEMORIALIZATION. “First, they would have you eliminate flowersthen the sacred burial ritesand finally, will it be the Church and the sermon ? “We Christians believe, as Christians alway have believed, that separation is but temporaryand that those who precede us should be given the protection of love and dignity of MEMORIALIZATION. “It is the Christian wayit is the American way. “Llano Cemetery and Mausoleum ” ‘The Panhandle cemetery since 1890’ ” This is an awful provocation, and I want to tell any of our readers who may want to form a cooperative ,burial society that I know of one man, 33 years of age, who will help organize it. I know him better and better as he gets older and older. Yours memorializationally, R.D. Dialogue A Letter from Deep East Texas From one who has lived in deep East Texas all his life ; let me express thanks for a good reporting job in your East Texas issue [Sept. 6]. A mild criticism could be offered. More stress could have been made on the noticeable progress which has been made in this area. When you consider how far we have to go, however, this seems like nit picking. Just to show you what I mean let me recall an experience from my own childhood.
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