Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Boltz-Andersen Tour de Cemeteries

Boltz-Andersen Tour de Cemeteries  
Darrel L. Hammon 
Larry Taylor, whose mother was a Boltz, places

We have all heard of the Tour de France. But what about the Tour de Cemeteries? Today was the inauguration of the Boltz-Andersen Tour de Cemeteries.

The Boltz-Andersen clans met at 1:00 p.m. at Tautphaus Park Shelter #3 in Idaho Falls, Idaho, to share in the quintessential sharing of potluck! Any time you connect families like the Andersen and Boltz families and say “potluck,” everyone comes with delicious dishes of food, no one goes away hungry, and you have to ask where did they learn to prepare food like that? Truly it was an incredible delicatessen experience. 

Larry, Joanne, John, Mother Boltz, Jean, and Lou Jean--all from the Boltz family
             Then came the Tour de Cemeteries. Each cemetery breathed stories of those who were buried there, some written and some ad hoc from those present—cousins (even those twice removed), daughters, aunts, uncles. Lots of tears were shed, but more laughter and funny stories seeped out, spilling over everyone who was there.

Lou Jean Hales, whose father was a Boltz, reads stories to all of us.
 Each cemetery was beautiful in its own right—hoards of different kinds of trees, immaculate lawns, stunning gravestones, and a plethora of flower arrangements delicately placed by loving hands. Peace and comfort seeped over us as we roamed in and among the various headstones remembering our loved ones.

Rosa Boltz, the Matriarch of the Boltz clan.
           We initiated the Tour next door to Tautphaus Park at Rose Hill Cemetery where Rosa Boltz, the matron of the Boltz clan, was buried. She was one of those independent souls, transplanted from plains of Nebraska to the high mountain desert of Idaho. Before she died, she proclaimed, “I do not want to be buried in Nebraska.” So, the family buried her in Rose Hill, alone, beneath a tree. Her husband died before she did and was transported back to Nebraska.

Many of the Andersen clan listen to stories
           Rose Hill was close in and steeped in history and lots of trees. Fielding Memorial lay sprawled what used to be way out on Yellowstone. The Lewisville Cemetery is just west of Walker’s feedlot, between mooing cows and sage brush. The Ucon Cemetery was not quite as large but lay in an open expanse. You could see the Ririe foothills and beyond there. The Ririe-Shelton was the farthest out but beautiful. It was breezy there, nestled on top of a hill overlooking acres and acres of farm land. Sprinklers oozed gallons of water over other fields that used to be dry farms.

John, whose father was a Boltz; Jean, whose mother was a Boltz
By far, the loveliest of them all was Annis-Little Butte Cemetery (I am a bit biased here). This beautiful cemetery is nestled on the back side of a volcanic butte and in the shadow of the mighty Snake River and the Menan Buttes. The bulk of the Andersen and the Boltz families claim this as their final resting spot. Everyone had a story to tell about those who lie here. One of the stories spoke of Luke Boltz and his annual ice skating rink in the back of his house on 9th Street. Joanne and others talked about the hours her dad would spend outside in the bitter cold, spraying water on the rink and making sure it was smooth as glass.  

Aunt Esther whose husband was an Andersen
          Perhaps one of the most poignant stories told happened at the Ririe-Shelton Cemetery.

Karen, Aunt Esther, Julie, and Brian--from the Andersen family
            Jack Pickering married to Fran Boltz Pickering went ice fishing one day with two of his relatives. While fishing, he felt something was wrong, and asked Brian, one of his fishing buddies and an Andersen, to get him one of his nitroglycerin pills. Brian quickly found the pill, gave him one, and said, “We ought to get you to doctor.” He utterly refused and waved him off, stating he was feeling better all ready. Brian set him up in one of the ice holes and went about auguring another hole. When he looked up, his Uncle Jack was slumped over the hole. He had died doing what he loved: fishing.

The Andersen clan whose husband, father, and grandfather was an Andersen
                Overall, the day was wonderful, long, and enlightening. We learned things about those who had passed. Perhaps, though, we learned more about those who were there. Some were well acquainted with each other; others had not met some in the Tour. Yet, we were all family, now and hopefully forever.

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