The World is a Stage

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An article of Graveyards and Gum combines two interesting topics: one pleasant and one not so pleasant, however, not the way you are thinking.

Let’s leave the good one to last and talk about gum first. The vast majority of people have chewed gum at some point in their lives. Remember Double Bubble? It was so much fun to blow those big bubbles, some of which burst in a greatly enlarged state, leaving a sticky mess! Where would we be without gum?

Chewing is at least 5,000 years old, but back then it was birch bark tar or pine gum in northern climates, while the Aztecs and Mayans harvested Chicle from sapodilla trees. These were all biodegradable, organic and natural. Today? Not so natural. It all changed after World War II when the supply of sapodilla trees could not keep up with demand and the companies turned to petro chemicals instead. Yup, you are chewing a petroleum based polymer glazed with oil and coated in molten confectionary, which is to say you are eating candy coated plastic.

Have you noticed that your gum never disintegrates when you chew? Which of course that means you are always left with a wad you don’t know what to do with, so the majority of people spit it on the ground. It doesn’t disintegrate there either. Removing it from the streets is so difficult, with large powerful steam machines and so expensive municipalities can’t afford it. Toronto is estimated to have more than 719 million wads weighing almost 2,000 tonnes! It costs about 30 cents a wad to remove from the streets.

Countries are banning gum and others are demanding gum companies pay for the clean up. In the U.K. it costs $100,000,000 (yes, that is millions) to clean up the gum. It costs too much. All that is truly necessary is to teach the public to save the wrapper, put your gum into it, then put it in a garbage can. Voila, problem fixed.

Okay, let’s talk about something good! Graveyards! You only have to tomorrow to sign up for this year's night time tour of the Pioneer Graveyard, on October 8th at 7 p.m. Yes, it is earlier this year for our eternal residents, who tell their stories in a more corporeal form, found that they are affected by the colder temperatures at the end of the month. Last year we just about froze!

We are only having a night tour this year, however we are running two tours simultaneously, so our original settlers are not spending an hour and a half waiting for their turn.

It is difficult putting together an event such as this. In fact just getting all 14 of the ghosts, I mean Pioneers, to be able to join us on one date was difficult. Each of our ghosts tells the true story of their lives and deaths in Tillsonburg from 1838 to 1881 when the graveyard was open for business. Most of them didn’t remember all the details of their lives so we assisted by doing hours of research to remind them of their fascinating lives and what it was like to live in in that time period, which is so different from our lives today. Well, actually some things never changed; there were murders back then, one at the school and another of a baby that you will learn about.

We had men who fought on opposite sides of the War of 1812, who helped settle our town and are buried here. We have a family whose father was born in Barbados, lived in the U.S. and Toronto and pioneered here in Tillsonburg, clearing land and building the log cabin. His wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Rutherford, who was also buried here with a child and grandchild, tells the story.

We have stories of descendants of royalty and a black family whose father was a U.S. Civil War veteran of sorts and mother who was a former slave. Families who lost too many children to epidemics, and even a man who died in a pre-election riot, right here in Tillsonburg.

Come, meet the families who set the foundations for our wonderful town! If you are interested book your spot immediately by calling the museum at 519-842 2294. Cost is $15, which needs to be paid by cash or cheque (to The Tillsonburg Historical Society), before closing on Friday, as none of the ghosts have money for change! Please bring a flashlight and an easy to carry chair or stool to sit on if you can’t stand long. Our ghost can be a little long winded! If it rains, the tour will move the program room in the museum, so fingers are crossed, because the graveyard is so much more fun!



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