Hollywood Makeover: Community volunteers to beautify Orange cemetery in need – Orange Leader

What started as a social media post culminated this month into a service project that involved more than 30 volunteers from local communities and surrounding Hollywood Cemetery.

Orange citizens from diverse racial, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds spent the day working together to restore, beautify and eliminate security risks at Hollywood Cemetery.

Community member Marvin Edwards appreciates the help with upkeep of the cemetery. Although his loved ones are not buried on the Hollywood grounds, Edwards has volunteered lawn care services on the grounds for the past nine years.

“I felt good about it,” he said. “I don’t have anyone there, but I care. There is a lot of history in this cemetery.

He feels responsible, as a member of the community, to take care of the land and the people on it, because he belongs to the community.

Hollywood’s historical significance was not lost on those who participated in the service project. A historical marker highlighting the cemetery’s importance in Texas history was erected in 1998.

Hollywood, formerly known as the “Colorful Graveyard,” dates from the Reconstruction era according to the Texas Historical Commission.

Responsibility for the upkeep of Hollywood Cemetery rests with the Hollywood Community Cemetery Association. Many members of the association are deceased or unable to participate in restoration projects, which explains the need for voluntary support.

Hollywood, formerly known as the “Colorful Graveyard,” dates from the Reconstruction era according to the Texas Historical Commission. (Terri Salter-Turner/Chef’s Special)

“SACRED SPACE”

The community effort to clean up the cemetery was appreciated by community members and loved ones of those buried in Hollywood.

Georgia Noone Sherrod of Baltimore, Maryland, and raised in Orange, has four generations of family members who rest in Hollywood.

Sherrod appreciates the community’s effort to dignify those resting and further appreciates the effort to create a safe space for local family members to visit.

“Hollywood is a holy and sacred space, where our history and that of our ancestors rests, and it should be preserved as such,” Sherrod said.

According to her, the maintenance of the grounds is a big job. She thanks the volunteers for showing so much respect and reverence to those who have passed away.

Volunteers worked directly and indirectly to support the cleanup of the cemetery.

Some citizens provided cold drinks and snacks to workers as they worked in harsh conditions tending to the lawn. Workers used their own lawn mowers, weed killers, leaf blowers and gasoline to complete the work.

Volunteers removed ant nests, bagged trash, cleaned walkways and provided safe passages for anyone wishing to visit loved ones and lay flowers. Community members can now do so safely without worrying about snakes, ants or other hazards.

But for the efforts of volunteers, the final resting places of Trusser T. Thomas (1866-1886), educator, Emma Henderson Wallace, teacher at the Orange Colored School (1876-1968), Navy veteran of the Second World War II, Earl Everett Holman, Steward’s Mate 1st Class Petty Officer (1925-1976), blues singer, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, (1924-2005) and a host of others were said to have been left in bad shape.

Grass is shown mowed at the Orange Community Cemetery, which was established in 1875. (Terri Salter-Turner/Special to The Leader)

HOW TO HELP

Kevin McDonald, whose desire to spruce up his mother’s final resting place prompted the May 4th project, had this to say regarding the day of the service,

“I felt good because something was done,” he said. “I was excited just to see us all come together as one. It was overwhelming for me. We had white Americans, Mexican Americans and Black Americans all working together as one. I just want to thank everyone who came and worked, especially those who donated.

District 3 Councilwoman Terry Salter-Turner helped donate materials and work the field to show respect for those who have passed away.

Looking at the project as a whole, she said it was an example of the city of Orange working together towards a common goal.

Members of the Hollywood Community Cemetery Association told Orange Newsmedia that they sincerely appreciate the efforts of volunteers on May 4 and hope it will mark a turning point for Texas’ official historic cemetery.

Many board members are deceased or unable to serve in a direct capacity. All members of the community interested in serving in the future are invited to meet on the Hollywood grounds every fourth Saturday of the month from 8 a.m. to noon. The 4.75 acre cemetery is located between West Turret Street, Simmons Drive, West Curtis Street and Mill Street in District 4 of the City of Orange.

Those seeking additional assistance with maintaining the Hollywood Cemetery grounds can contact the Texas Historical Commission’s Cemetery Preservation Program at 512-463-5853.

Volunteers will meet on June 11.

— By Shari Hardin

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