The Friends of Greenlawn Cemetery have done it again, they another tour, bringing some people from Portsmouth before, during and after WWII, to life. They presented their second tour of Greenlawn, last Saturday and Sunday evening.
The Story of Us, Portsmouth Goes to War transported the visitors back to the 1940’s era Portsmouth. This was a community that pulled together during a time of war.
“The entire premise for the story was “Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things”, according to Debbie Gambill, with the Friends of Greenlawn Cemetery Foundation, the organization who transforms the 40 acre site into a walking tour with venues and sets.
Walking through the Gates of Greenlawn to be entertained by some of the best actors/actresses in the area, visitors were first able to listen to what might have been a true radio announcement just, as it was told when the war began. Sam McKibben, WNXT radio announcer, played the part of WPAY Radio announcer, making one feel as if they were actually hearing this in Portsmouth on December 7, 1941.
One of the stops on the tour, was visiting Dr. Joseph Babock, optometrist in Portsmouth. During this time period, Dr. Babcock was instrumental in getting a program in Ohio, at Ohio State University, for optometry. He also worked extremely hard to see that the servicemen and veterans received eye care. The twist of this stop, was that Dr. Tyler Babcock, Joseph’s great grandson, Portrayed his great grandfather.
Women want to be appreciated for the work they do, the women during this war, wanted to be recognized for the men’s work they did while the men were at war. These, Rosie the Riveters, were delightfully portrayed by Layla McGinnis, Katie Woten and Kayleigh Holland, and could be seen sporting that famous red bandanna and bib overalls.
Samuel Jackson, from Portsmouth,an injured soldier in a wheelchair, was inspiringly portrayed by Seth Shepherd, spouting his account of being in the war with his best friend.
Along the way, the audience/tourists were met by Portsmouth photographer and prisoner of war, Carl Ackerman, portrayed so impressively by Alec Arnett. Ackerman though not buried in Greenlawn, was noted for what he had survived during the war, and the photographs of promise he took when he returned home.
Captain Ruth Wellman, a nurse during the war, was portrayed by an impressive Mariah Ginn, as she told of her life while being a war soldier.
One of the war families, the Cassidy’s, had four boys who went to war, leaving their mother and father to worry about all of them in Portsmouth. This humbling set-up had the mother and father reading the letters over again and the letters came to life as each boy began speaking their letter while in uniform, behind the parents. These young men and their parents were remarkably portrayed by Austin Scott, Cole Tackett, Ryan Powell, Brandon Hall, Seth Ewing, and Jess Powell.
Another crestfallen scene on the tour, was that of a young mother, successfully portrayed by Joy Durant, with her baby at her husband’s grave site. This brought into perspective the despair that the war brought to so many families in Portsmouth and the entire nation.
A nice surprise that was heard during the tour, was the angelic and regal voice of Julianna Parlin, giving an almost perfect replica of Judy Garland’s voice singing, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, as if she was there cheering on the troops during the war. She was introduced to them, by Drew Applegate, playing a Lieutenant of the war.
Not to leave anyone out, there were many others there portraying parts, spread all throughout the cemetery, like the three young Holy Redeemer Children (Emory Powell, Evie Powell, & Bella Kammer) toting their wagons of cans, walking around the cemetery the whole evening, just as other children during war times could have done. There also was a still in the garden with Mariah Stegall, some Gold Star families with Jennifer Bloomfield and Mason Book. There was a display of how rationing at the grocery was done back then, with Emma Madden and Trevor McCormick. There were also the ladies portraying Red Cross nurses, Haven Hileman, Breanna Staggs, and Jalynn Williams.
And not to forget, Pastor John Gowdy at the front and one of the brides and grooms he ‘married’, before they went to war, Bailee Wireman and Isiah Norman.
Proceeds from this two-night event will go toward completing the restoration of the Greenlawn Cemetery Chapel that is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Last year’s proceeds were used to replace the original slate roof, stone tuck-pointing and stabilization and exterior restoration.
This year they hope to replace and or restore the windows and entry door, as well as interior plaster repair.
The saying, ‘You never know what you are going to get’ was true once again, as the Friends of Greenlawn surprised and dazzled the audience/tourists with another amazing and magnificent tour this year in Greenlawn cemetery.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928