The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Grave

In Saint Michaels.

Last night's snow and ice storm was really a hardship for my Big Green friend at Amherst College, since he never wears anything but a toga.

Downtown Amherst was transformed into an icy wonderland, quite beautiful if you were looking at it through a window.

However, if you were outdoors walking around it wasn't so nice. What a winter - repetitive snow and ice storms interrupted only by arctic blasts!

Anyway, in Saint Michael's Cemetery in ol' Pine Point there stands a grave that is very meaningful in my family history. It is located near this area of statues that really frightened me when I was a kid. As a little boy, I remember I had nightmares about the statues coming alive!

The stone is above the grave of John Devine, who died tragically in 1911. Here is the article on the terrible event as it appeared in the Springfield newspaper.

John M. Devine, 43, 438 State Street, died in Mercy Hospital this morning at 3 o'clock as the result of injuries received yesterday morning when he plunged his right arm through the glass in a door at his home. The sharp glass severed an artery, and Devine lost a large quantity of blood before he was removed to the hospital. But little hope was entertained of his recovery and he sank gradually until the end.

Yesterday morning Devine arose in perfect health to go to his work on a plumbing job, but while about to leave the bedroom to go to the washroom he tripped and fell on a loose piece of straw matting and in an effort to steady himself plunged his arm through the glass. He leaves a widow and seven children totally unprovided for.

When visited by a reporter for The Daily News this morning the family seemed unable to realize that the husband and father is dead. The eldest son, James A. Devine, 18, seemed the only one to appreciate the loss that the family has sustained, and he expressed the idea of digging in at any kind of work to support his mother and the remainder of the family.

Besides his widow, Mr. Devine leaves seven children, Raymond J., Helen E., Frances, Gervase, Bertrand, John E. and James A., two brothers, Joseph of Buffalo, N.Y., and James of Russell, and two sisters, Mrs. P.J. Griffin and Miss Elizabeth Devine, both of Willimansett.

The article is wrong about my relative's name, his middle initial being R and not M as reported (see above). Certain details not included in the article have been handed down, such as that he was taken to the hospital by a passing horse and wagon. If you consider the distance from State Street to Mercy hospital, and the speed with which one can transverse it by horse, then it it easy to understand how he bled to death.

I have long searched in vain for a photograph of the building where the tragedy occurred. This picture of the location taken in 1939 shows that the building had by that time been torn down and replaced by a one story commercial structure which itself has since been torn down. The address is currently a parking lot.

Also, I was often told when growing up that the newspaper story is simply a cover version my family made-up for the press. In reality, on the day of the accident John Devine was falling down drunk. A good clue as to the true nature of the mishap is the fact that it occurred around 3 in the morning. In any case, the part about being left in "destitute circumstances" was certainly true. It took a whole generation for my family to recover from the desperate poverty they fell into because of that terrible tragedy.

With the students gone for winter break, the UMass maintenance staff has the opportunity to do things that are not practical during the semester, such as polishing the floor of the ballroom to a glassy finish.

This is a Jefferson Starship video from 1976.


Cuz said...

Fascinating family history Tom!

Anonymous said...

But for the grace of God, we might all be falling down drunk and totally enjoying it.