The Lope: Talking Dead in an Honest Cemetery

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Talking Dead in an Honest Cemetery

(Updated October 20)

Tomorrow night (Sat, Oct 20) there will be a historical cemetery walk in Eastside Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in Hutchinson, Kansas. The forecast (as of Friday afternoon) is for a high of 83 and a low of 56 - a far cry from the conditions under which I shot the photo above, this past January. I always thought that spritz of snow in the air looked like a ghost.

Eastside isn't the most ornate cemetery I've known, but I like to walk there. And it's a good honest graveyard in that it has very few of what I call "Lawn Boy tombstones" - the ones designed such that the cemetery's mowers can go right over them.

After all, isn't it enough that the residents of a cemetery have to be dead? To be deceased and still have to be so compliant with lawn regulations would be adding insult to fatal injury.

(text and photos below updated October 20)

But about the walk - Saturday night from 7PM to 9PM, actors with the Hutchinson Theatre Guild portrayed seven area residents at their grave sites. The event, "Talking Tombstones", was a fundraiser for the guild and cost $15 to attend.

The role call of the dramatized deceased:

Bob Colladay portrayed Thurman J. Bixler, a turn of the 20th century entrepreneur who bottled fruit soda and flew planes around the city with his brothers.

Colladay had an empty bottle on hand that once held one of "T. J. Bixler's Famous" sodas - "Extra Fine" and "Made with Polar Distilled Water." Gee, my diet whatevers feel a little mundane now.

Another local deceased person is a woman by the last name of "Broadwell", whose legal first name is uncertain, although she went by "Mary." She is reputed to be the sister of Dalton Gang member Dick Broadwell. We have a lot of old west gang history here in Kansas, but I didn't know there was any in Hutchinson.

Mary Hadley was a temperance crusader and church founder. She died too early to have been acquainted with the Women's Christian Temperance Union "Little Man."

Esther Richardson, the first local female school administrator was portrayed by her great-great-granddaughter, Martha Slater.

Cpl. Franklin Hogan won the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism during the Civil War.

Lynette Mathews was "a supporter of the downtrodden."

The Rev. Tim Soule of First Presbyterian Church portrayed E.L. Meyer, founder of First National Bank in Hutchinson.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great photos, Greg! Glad that you enjoyed the evening.

Sun Oct 21, 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger azflyer2001 said...

How can I get more information about this event? Thurman J. Bixler was my great grandfather's brother. I'd love a copy of Bob Colladay's script so I can share it with future generations.

I'm also looking for some T.J. Bixler bottles.

Travis Handschug
Mesa, Arizona

Mon Jan 21, 05:26:00 PM  
Blogger Ace Jackalope said...

Travis (azflyer2001), your best bet is probably to contact Bob Colladay through the Hutchinson Theatre Guild at Good luck!

Mon Jan 21, 11:28:00 PM  
Blogger Peggy S said...

Travis is my nephew and TJ was my Great Uncle. My cousin has one of the bottles, and yes, we would love to get our hands on a few more. I have some things TJ has written stored away. How can we get in touch with Bob Colladay? Enjoyed your photos and what a surprise.
Thank you,
Peggy Bixler Schroder
Sweet Home, OR

Fri Jan 25, 11:04:00 PM  
Blogger Peggy S said...

I see Mr. Calladay's link above; didn't notice it at first.

Fri Jan 25, 11:06:00 PM  

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