I’ve always had a love for cemetery. There’s just something peaceful about them. Most people see them as a place where one only goes when they die.
They see cemeteries as cold, dark, gloomy places of mourning and sadness. But to me, cemeteries aren’t all cold, dark, gloomy places of mourning and sadness. They aren’t places where one should only go when they die.
In fact, you can learn a lot just by going and walking through a cemetery and looking at the dates on the headstones, thinking about what all the people lived through and what they saw during their time here on Earth.
I’ve lived across the road from a cemetery all of my life. The graves in that cemetery range from 1863 up until 2010.
When I was a young boy, about 9 or 10, my brother and I, along with our friends would go up to the cemetery at night and play hide and seek with flashlights so that we could see and avoid disrespecting those that were peacefully sleeping at our feet.
So, I’ve always loved the history that cemeteries hold and the stories that are told by the dates on the headstone.
Stories of heart-ache, heartbreak, loneliness, illness, wellness, happiness and sadness. But above all, stories that in a way, make you feel a certain connection to the people that have walked the land before your time. The rich and poor, the old and the young, the famous and the ordinary, their stories all differ, but they’re all the same in a way. They’re all human just like you and I.
I say all of that to say this on January 1, 2022, the Virtual Grave Tour will return to a cemetery near you, wherever you may be, the Virtual Grave Tour travels all over this great land, from California to Florida and anywhere in between.
Come along won’t you? Relive and remember history one grave at a time.
24 years ago tomorrow, you saw the world for the first time. Exactly two months to the day later, I was born into the world. Even though it’s almost been eight years since I said “See you on the other side,” It feels like it’s been a lot longer.
A lot has changed in the last seven and a half years, but the one thing that will never change is the love that I have for you. I can only imagine what you will experience tomorrow in God’s kingdom.
A lot has changed since you took the first step on your heavenly journey, and I can’t help but think of how proud you would be of me.
I was so blessed to have you here with me on Earth for 16 years. It may have only been 16 years, but those 16 years hold a lifetime worth of memory. Thank you for everything Jody Marie. Thousands of memories in such a short amount of time.
Memories that I will cherish forever until I see you again. I know you’re looking down on me giving me that stare that only you could give, telling me to “dry it up, you’ll be fine.”
But the truth is, there will never be another person quite like you. Your heart was so pure, your personality was incredible, your smile lit up a room and if only you knew how loved and missed you are by hundreds of people, you would understand. What they say is true, “True friendship goes far beyond the grave.” I’ll love you forever and always.
Happy Birthday, beautiful. Until we meet again, you’re safe with me.
20 years ago tomorrow, the world was shaken by the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, New York, the Pentagon in Washington, DC and a field out in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where a hijacked plane went down in a blaze. When 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group known as al Qaeda hijacked four aircrafts and carried out the gruesome events of that day. Two of the planes were flown into the Twin Towers, a third hit the Pentagon, and a fourth went down in that Pennsylvania field.
These events we will never forget. These events are forever burned into the memory of millions of Americans. That day, almost 3,000 American heroes were killed tragically in the events of September 11, 2001.
On September 11, 2001, at 8:45 a.m., what seemed to be just an ordinary Tuesday morning, turned into anything but ordinary when an American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. A blazing, gaping hole was left smoldering near the 80th floor of the 110-story skyscraper, instantly claiming hundreds of lives and leaving hundreds more in danger. 18 minutes later, a second 767 Boeing— United Airlines Flight 175 — sliced its way into the south tower.
Out in Washington, DC American Airlines Flight 77 circled over Washington, DC before crashing into the west side of the Pentagon military base at 9:45 a.m. Fuel from the Boeing 757 caused an awful fire that led to a structural collapse at the Department of Defense.
125 military personnel and civilians were killed in the Pentagon, along with 64 people aboard the airliner. At 10:30 a.m. the north tower collapsed 2,763 died at the World Trade Center including 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 New York City Police Officers and 37 Port Authority police officers. 2,996 lives were claimed that fateful day.
I was only 3 years old in 2001 but I miss the way things were on September 12, 2001. Not because of what happened, but because of the way people treated each other. The way the human race came together and mourned as one. The way for just a moment, America truly was suffering from the same thing.
If you lost a loved one on that fateful day or know someone who did, please assure them that their loved one went out a hero. If you survived the attacks, thank you for standing face to face with terror and doing what you could to save those around you.
We’ve all got a best friend, or a lifelong friend who has been or was with us through it all. For me, Jody Sanford was that friend.
For 16 years, we were and still are thick as thieves, constantly getting on our siblings last nerve. In fact, we knew just when to ease up on them.
I like to think of our relationship with each other as sort of a modern day Bonnie and Clyde-type relationship, no we never killed anybody, nor did we ever run from the law, but we always had each other’s backs no matter the circumstances.
We never hurt anybody, but you knew where we stood. If you saw one of us, more than likely you saw both of us, because the other wasn’t far behind.
I’ve had my share of ups and downs over the past seven years, happy moments when I seemed to escape everything and then I’ve had moments where I’ve cried myself to sleep.
To know Jody was to love her, I can’t think of a single person who didn’t love Jody. When she loved she loved hard, but Lord help you if you got on her bad side.
She was never one to sugarcoat anything just to make somebody feel better about themselves. She would tell anybody exactly how she felt about them and it could be anywhere.
I know I got on her nerves more than once and I’m not going to lie, she got on mine too. But we never let that create a void in our friendship.
I clearly remember the day God called her home, I was sitting in the back of the house on the computer, mom was in the kitchen cooking green beans, and my brother was in his room.
It was about 4:30 at this point, and mom came running to the back and said “Jody, Jody!” I was wondering ‘What trouble has she gotten into now?’ Because the two of us were notorious for constantly being in trouble and never getting out of it.
I didn’t think much more of it, because I had just seen her the day before at Bazemore Field, I figured she had just gone off on somebody and everything was going like it normally did.
But then, before I knew it, my brother came into the room and took my phone, which made me mad because nobody really told me what was going on.
At about 6:30 p.m., the house phone rang, I picked it up, it was mom I couldn’t even get the word ‘hello’ out of my mouth good before she said “Jody’s gone,” my world felt like it was closing in on me.
Mom said “I can’t talk right now, I’ll call you back in five minutes.” At 6:35 p.m., the phone rang again, and that’s when she explained what happened and then I fell apart because I had just lost not only my best friend, but my very first friend.
The friend that went off on me constantly, who took me home from school on multiple occasions, the one who literally made me do my school work by saying “Don’t make me tell Mrs. Ellen.” I knew she would do it in a heartbeat, so I just rolled my eyes and did my work.
The one who I played with when we were both in diapers, I spent many nights at her house during the summers, had multiple inside jokes with her, etc. I could go on and on for hours about what she meant to me.
A few days passed by, and I was at lunch and they called me to the counselor’s office, I was confused why was I being called to the counselor’s office? I didn’t need a counselor.
When I entered the office, I headed to the back into a meeting room where several more of my friends, including my brother were sitting.
It wasn’t long until her brother walked in and asked us to be pallbearers at her funeral. I wasn’t sure I was mentally capable of doing it, but I knew it’s what she would’ve wanted. So, I hugged her brother and fell apart, he said “Don’t cry, she’s in a better place, she’s with God at His right hand waiting on you.”
The night of the visitation, I entered the church, which is just about a mile from my house and was met by her entire immediate family.
There, her dad, with a frame that stands well above six feet, hugged me tightly as he fought back tears and said “That girl was crazy over you buddy.” He and her mom escorted me into the sanctuary, where Jody’s body was, I broke down when I reached the casket.
I couldn’t believe this was actually happening, it wasn’t supposed to be like this. We had talked about going to college together but that wasn’t going to happen.
The next day at her funeral, I was sitting in the front left pew with all of the pallbearers, when it was time to carry the casket to the hearse, I stood up, took a deep breath and grabbed the handle of the casket with my right hand.
I walked down the steps of the church toward the hearse and loaded the casket into the hearse, I was wearing sunglasses and I lifted them up as soon as I loaded her in the back of the hearse and patted the casket.
I was met with multiple hugs and then headed to the cemetery, when we arrived at the cemetery behind the hearse, I felt my throat get a lump in it. I approached the hearse and loaded the casket onto the lowering table. Then was met with more hugs.
Jody, thank you for always being here for me. Thank you for the memories, thank you for the arguments, the random times we rode around town together, the ice cream dates, and so much more.
It’s been 28 years since the disappearance of the Springfield Three, two teenagers that had recently graduated high school and spent the evening partying following their high school graduation and one of the teenager’s mothers. More times than not, these cases are solved. But for these three things turned dark quickly. Sure, over the almost three-decade long investigation into the case, new leads have been developed, but nothing has been uncovered when it comes to the remains of the three missing women.
The date was June 7, 1992, in the city of Springfield, Missouri, not far from the bustling city of St. Louis, Missouri. After celebrating their high school graduation, 19-year-old, Suzie Streeter, and her 18-year-old friend, Stacy McCall decided to spend the night at Suzie’s house, alongside Suzie’s 47-year-old mother Sherrill Levitt.
Later that morning, Suzie, Stacy, and Sherrill, also known as the Springfield Three are all discovered to be missing from the residence. The scene of the disappearance contained some interesting clues, including a broken globe from the porch light and an odd answering machine message, which was unintentionally erased, but no hard evidence of what might have happened to the women.
Over the years, a number of leads have been brought to authorities such as a convicted criminal who claimed to know what happened to the victims. But no trace of the Springfield Three has ever been found.
This case is considered to be one of the most unfathomable and haunting missing persons cases of the modern era, as there were no signs of any struggle or any evidence that an intruder had been inside the house, so if these three women were abducted, how did the perpetrator or perpetrators manage to pull it off?
On June 6, 1992, Suzie Streeter and Stacy McCall graduated from Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Missouri. They then went out for a night of celebration in honor of this huge accomplishment. The plan was to stop by several house parties and spend the night at their friend Janelle Kirby’s home.
But when they arrived at Janelle’s house around 2:00 a.m., it was too overcrowded. And then, without knowing, they altered their fates permanently. They decided to go back to Suzie’s house and sleep there. This would be the last time anybody ever saw them alive, to this day, not a single person has seen them.
On the following morning, June 7, Janelle Kirby and her boyfriend waited for Suzie and Stacy. They had all planned to go together to the local water park in the southern Missouri town of Branson, Missouri. They arrived at Suzie’s house at around 8:00 a.m.
Three vehicles were parked outside: belonging to Suzie, Stacy, and Suzie’s mother, Sherrill. The glass lamp on the porch was broken and the door was unlocked. Janelle and her boyfriend proceeded inside the home.
They noticed that the three women’s purses were lined up on the living room floor, at the foot of the stairs leading up to Suzie’s bedroom. The dog, a Yorkshire terrier named Cinnamon, was locked in the bathroom. But Sherrill, Suzie, and Stacy were nowhere to be seen.
While inside the home, the phone rang and Janelle proceeded to answer. A strange male was on the other end, she hung up. Soon, the phone rang again. Her boyfriend, meanwhile, innocently cleaned up the broken glass on the porch. The couple then left the residence.
Several hours later, Janis, who had been getting increasingly worried, stopped by the house herself. She hadn’t been able to reach Stacy by phone and knew she had decided to spend the night at Suzie’s. She went inside and also noticed all three purses on the living room floor. She also around the house, worriedly peeking in the other rooms.
She recognized her daughter’s clothes, neatly folded on her sandals by Suzie’s waterbed. She also noticed that Sherrill and Suzie – both chain-smokers – had left their cigarettes in the house. Janis knew something wasn’t right, she knew this wasn’t like Stacy. Normally, Stacy was pretty good about letting her mother know of her whereabouts.
She then called authorities in a panic. When she hung up, she noticed a light blinking on the answering machine. Someone had left a message. She played the message and later described it “strange.” She couldn’t remember more and the answering machine had automatically erased the message after it was played once.
Police were dumbfounded by what had taken place. What had happened to the three women in the wee hours of June 7, 1992? There was an untouched graduation cake left chilling in the fridge and nothing that gave any hint of forced entry.
The officers collected evidence and then began the interviewing process, they had begun the investigation too late– by that time, it had been nearly 16 hours since the three women vanished. Worried friends and family began stopping by the house to take in the scene and hopefully find clues that might lead to an arrest or closure of some type.
The last person to hear from Sherrill was a friend. Sherrill had called her at 11:15 p.m., and told her that she was painting a chest of drawers, but gave no indication that anything was wrong.
Even though many small tips and leads have been leaked in the nearly three decades since that fateful June night in 1992, nothing has surfaced that certainly may have belonged to the women, and the case is still cold.
Will the City of Springfield, the State of Missouri, or the United States ever get any sort of closure? Will we ever uncover a suspect? Is the suspect still at large or has the suspect passed on and gotten away with murder? What happened on June 7, 1992?
Where are the Springfield Three? Are their remains still waiting patiently to be discovered? We may never know.
Friday night, the parading society in charge of Mobile, Alabama’s Joe Cain Parade voted unanimously to call off the storied street parade which includes “Cain’s Merry Widows” until 2022.
According to NBC15 in Mobile, all 36 of the parade’s permit holders met via phone this week, and made the decision. This brings the total number of Mobile Mardi Gras cancellations in 2021 to 22.
However, Mardi Gras isn’t the only thing not happening in Mobile in 2021, the city’s “MoonPie over Mobile,” which traditionally happens on New Year’s Eve as residents and tourists alike bring in the new year by watching a giant MoonPie be lowered onto the streets of Mobile has also been canceled.
It’s safe to say that 2020 is a year unlike any other year in history. More Mardi Gras cancellations are likely to come, its only a matter of time, and Joe Cain isn’t happy, but who could blame him?
Don’t worry Joe, if I have to come back down there and throw a parade with you, I’ll gladly do it. Rest easy, my friend.
The streets of Mobile, Alabama, will see a lot less traffic during the 2021 Mardi Gras season as multiple parading societies have called off parading festivities.
It was reported Monday afternoon that the Coronation of King Felix wouldn’t happen in 2021 due to the pandemic. That’s not the only thing Mardi Gras parade and ball canceled in the Mobile area in 2021.
16 additional parades and balls have put a halt to 2021 events. Included in those cancellations are the popular Mobile Mystical Revelers, the Crewe of Columbus, the Order of Inca, Krewe of Marry Mates, and more.
I wouldn’t be shocked if more parading societies made cancellation in the coming days. It seems it’s only a matter of time until the Mystics of Time and the Joe Cain Parade are called off.
But one thing’s for sure, Joseph Stillwell Cain, Jr. will still be parading around Church Street Graveyard when night descends on the City of Mobile.
For me, this is a bit personal.
For as long as I can remember, I have attended Mardi Gras parades in the City of Mobile. Many fun, memorable memories echo through my head when I think of the times I’ve had during Mardi Gras and the friends with whom I spent those times. It’s a sad day for restless revelers like myself, and I’m sure Joe Cain, the Father of Mobile Mardi Gras is rolling over in his grave down on Church Street right about now.
Don’t worry Joe, the 2022 Mardi Gras season will only be that much more special.
It has also been announced that the City of New Orleans, Louisiana will not allow Mardi Gras parades in 2021, according to New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
The cancellations in Mobile mark the first time since 1857 that the festivities have been canceled.
Monday was shaping up to be a normal day in my life, I got home Monday afternoon and sat down on the couch and was gearing up to listen to the Braves as they were set to take on National League East Division rival, New York Mets.
I noticed dad wasn’t home, but I didn’t think much of it, I assumed he had simply gone to the store or somewhere like that.
About 45 minutes passed and in comes dad holding a leash, I could hear what sounded like a dog walking. So, I got up from the couch and saw a beautiful black dog in tow with dad.
I asked if the dog had a name, and dad said “No, I don’t think so.” Immediately following that statement, I began to think of a name for my new four-legged friend.
I thought about it all night and all day for the next day and a half, and finally on Wednesday afternoon, as I was looking at my new friend’s shiny black coat.
I’ve always been one that enjoys music, particularly old school country, such as Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Sr., Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, etc.
As I glanced at his coat, it reminded me of Johnny Cash’s trademark black attire. I immediately sent dad a text and said “I believe I have a name for him, ‘Cash.’”
Dad then proceeded to walk through the door after returning from the store, and I mentioned it to him again, because I knew that he hadn’t checked his phone yet.
He said “Ask your brother,” so I went to my brother’s room and proposed the name to him and he responded “Sure.”
So, I reported back to dad and he said “We’ll then, his name is Cash.”
As soon as I figured his name out, I turned to Cash and said “Welcome home, you old ‘Man in Black.’”
Ever since then, Cash has stuck by my side, only leaving my side when I go to work. He seems to be warming up at a rapid pace, playing with toys, licking my face, ignoring the pesky Jack Russell we have that doesn’t particularly know what to think of her new “roommate”.
Because Cash knows that she’s harmless, I’ve tried to tell our Jack Russell that Cash is also harmless, but she doesn’t seem to think so.
They say everything new takes time to get used to, but I’d say Cash is getting used to things easily.
He also seems to be glad to finally be free of “Folsom Prison.”
Everywhere I go, I have a little black four-legged shadow now. So, if you see me and you see a black shadow, just know that’s the Dog in Black.
May 24, 2016 is a day that I will never forget. It was the day that my life really began.
I can remember standing in the halls of the Dunn-Oliver Acadome on the campus of Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama, anxiously awaiting my name to be called.
But there was something about graduation that wasn’t right. So many of my friends that were supposed to be graduating high school with me that night, weren’t able to do so because they had been called home to be with God.
Dressed in a black and gold cap and gown, mostly black, I can clearly remember being soaked in sweat by the time my name was called.
When my name was finally called, it seemed like everything went in slow motion.
As I walked across the stage with tear-filled eyes because I knew that so many of my friends were looking down on me from Heaven, I hit my chest twice and point towards the sky as if to say, “This one’s for you.”
Unlike so many others in my graduating class, I clearly knew what I wanted to do one day.
When I sat back down in my seat, I remember feeling a sense of relief.
That fall, I went off to college. I was only there for a semester before I realized that I just wasn’t meant to go college. I already had what it took.
So I decided to take the long way around it.
Three years removed from college, I have come further than I ever thought was possible, especially without a college degree.
But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Clearly God knew far before I did, that I wouldn’t be in college more than a semester.
The point of this piece is to serve as a sense of inspiration. Some are meant to go to college, others aren’t. But as long as you keep a clear mind and full heart, you will be successful in any aspect of life.
Ever since this pandemic started several months ago, I haven’t watched the news, I’ve avoided watching tv as much as possible.
Every night before drifting off to sleep, I try to read the Bible. Recently, I read Isiah 41:10 and it got me thinking, you know, we may act like sports need to hurry up and resume, but they can wait.
Just yesterday, a friend of mine posted on Snapchat a picture that read “Sometimes, you are delayed because God knows that there is a storm headed right in your direction.” I can’t think of a more fitting picture to post during times like these.
There is light at the end of this pitch black tunnel that we are all in right now. Someday, we will be giving hugs again to the ones that we love and shaking hands with friends.
There will be a day when we don’t have to be six feet apart. There will be a day when we go back to work.
Concerts will return, sports will return, and everything will return to normal, but it won’t happen on our timing, it will happen on God’s timing. Be patient and trust Him.