Thursday, July 8, 2010

Baby's Grave

Dear Bonnie Henry,
I am an Arizona Site Steward and this is one of the sites that I, and 2 others, monitor. I think there is a story here but I don’t know how to pursue it and thought of you, of course. I find it incredible that this baby’s grave dated 1931 is being visited and attended by a niece. There are so many questions that come to mind. If you are interested we could go out there to show you the grave.

How are you at going under barbed wire fences?

Cherie F.

Grave Revisited
In the Old Pantano Town cemetery (Cienega County Preserve) are about 26 unattended, tumbled and tossed graves except for one.

The grave, outlined in wood, is heaped with stones. The marker has a brightly blue painted, old wooden cross.

The grave’s marker states boldly in out-lined black:

Lucia Reyes Martinez: Feb- 28-1931—May- 21-1931

3 months old at time of death. Had she lived, she would be 74 years old today.

Her grave is covered with fresh, colorful plastic flowers; a small plastic Christmas tree trimmed with Poinsettias stands at attention at the head of the grave. The wooden marker is adorned in red and white tinsel wrap.

There are many touching offerings on the grave: a Birthday cake snow globe, styrofoam hand made doll, several Tecate beer cans, a little pile of colored glass shards, a rusty old can, plastic silvered Holly leaves and the nearby creosote bush is draped in the red and white Christmas tinsel wrap. A few daffodils are peeking up through the earth and rocks on the grave. A lot of love!

At the Preserve’s sign-in log the entry says:

1/26/05 D. Martinez---came to see my aunt, Luz Martinez. Today is my Birthday and this is how I wanted to spend it. ----(illegible) –out here. I feel at peace.

Next to the baby’s grave is another grave, heaped with stones and outlined with termite eaten wood. The granite head stone tossed to the side has the name and the date of the deceased chiseled out. Gone! Obliterated! Only the sign of the cross remains on the cold gray stone. On the ‘obliterated’ grave today—a small bunch of pink plastic flowers!

Ms. Bonnie Henry responded to my email immediately saying she would like to visit the grave.

In March, Valerie C. and I met a laughing—chatty, very warm and personable Bonnie Henry, Arizona Daily Star reporter. Boy! We got in my car and she instantly switched into the cold reporter mode! She fired question after question from the Site Steward program to our ages!

At the site she took notes and asked more questions as we toured the graves. Bonnie seemed to be genuinely interested in the baby’s grave and as anxious as we to find out more about the "tender" of the grave, the Niece.

On the way home she told us about the great train accident at Houghton and Rita Ranch Rd area in the early days of railroading in Tucson. 14 people were killed. The head-on collision/impact was so great, the eastbound caboose ended up back in the Tucson railroad yard some 12 miles away. She did the research, visited the site where artifacts still remain, and wrote the article. Now there will be a plaque on the Bank where the accident happened. As Bonnie put it about the morning—"it was a blast!"

Bonnie Henry's article appeared in the Arizona Daily Star 30 March 2005. She did a great job of tying all information together about the old Town, the baby, the Baby's family and even giving a plug for Site Steward program.

By the way, she goes under fences very well! We had to unhook her jeans from the barbed wire only once!

The Rest of The Story
As you know, the family has been visiting and maintaining the grave since Baby Lucia’s burial in 1931. Entry into the cemetery, by rolling under a barbed wire fence, was a definite hardship and deterrent to many family members as some were very aged and infirm.

A request for a gate for the cemetery was made by the Site Stewards to Pima County.

Loy N. of Pima County, Site Steward land manager contact, aided the Arizona Site Stewards Region 6 to obtain a gate for the family. He says his only role was to "suggest to Pima Flood Control a couple of times" the need for the gate. However, without his follow up and suggestions there would be no good news and that is:

A gate was installed in early October 2005! It is a wonderfully strong gate with an added whimsical handle-- a decorated horseshoe!

Bonnie Henry notified the family about installation of the gate and their reply,

"God bless you, Arizona Site Stewards."

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