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Nadine's enchanting playhouse tomb

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Cemeteries tell the stories of history, mystery, and the interesting lives of people buried there. Oakland Cemetery in Lanett, Alabama has many gravesites of prominent folks of the area, but the memorial that stands out in most of the resident’s hearts is the tribute to Miss Nadine Earles.

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'Roselind' Nadine Earles was born on April 3, 1929 to Julian Comer and Alma Earles. She was a sweet little girl with dark brown curly hair and a bright smile. She was the apple of her father’s eye and he loved to spoil his little daughter. Four year old Nadine’s Christmas wish was to have a playhouse where she could play with her friends and hold grand tea parties for her dolls. Comer Earles was a great carpenter. In the autumn he began to gather lumber to build the playhouse in the back yard.

In November, before the playhouse could be complete, Nadine became very ill with diphtheria—a contagious respiratory tract infection. The Earle’s house was quarantined. Construction on the playhouse came to a halt.

As the Christmas holidays approached, Nadine’s condition began to grow worse when she developed pneumonia. Hoping to cheer their little girl’s spirits, her parents gave her two early Christmas presents—a china tea set and a beautiful life-size doll. Her daddy promised she would get her playhouse as soon as she was well. Nadine’s reply was, “Daddy, me want it now.”

Nadine died on December 18, 1933, just a week before Christmas. Her parent’s grief was overwhelming. They pledged to honor her final request by giving her the playhouse she so desperately desired. The partially completed playhouse was transferred to the Oakland Cemetery. The Earles hired contractors to finish the playhouse which was constructed atop of Nadine’s grave. Work was completed in the spring of 1934.

Made of two-toned brick, aqua and white awnings and plate glass windows, the playhouse can be seen from 50 feet of the cemetery entrance. The parents never neglected little Nadine and her playhouse. They continued to decorate the inside of the playhouse with gifts of dolls, a tricycle, stuffed toys, or whatever toy a four year old girl would deem popular the following years. There was even a small mock fireplace along one wall.

On April 3, 1935, which would have been Nadine’s 5th birthday, family and friends met at the newly completed playhouse at the grave site for a birthday party in her honor. They shared gifts, cake and ice cream, and bade their final goodbyes.

Through the years her parents maintained the cherished playhouse and decorated it for the holidays. The community of Lanett carries on that tradition. The family remains together in the afterlife. Through the years, more graves were added in the “yard” of the family plot. “Father” reads one of the tombstones, “Julian Comer Earles. May 20, 1909-Feb 25, 1976. Daddy of Little Nadine.”

Nearby is the grave of Nadine’s mother. Her tombstone reads “Mother Alma. April 1, 1912, January 28. 1981. Mama of Little Nadine.”

As guests peek inside the playhouse tomb, they can read the remembrance etched in stone so long ago for the beloved little girl. It reads:

Our little daughter
Sweetest in the World
Little Nadine
April 3, 1929
Dec. 18, 1933
“Me Want It Now”

If you visit: Oakland Cemetery is located in Lanett, Alabama which on the Alabama/Georgia border. It is about 81 miles south of Atlanta, Georgia and 81 miles north of Montgomery, Alabama.

See Nadine's playhouse in the video this page

Haunted Places Examiner: Debe Branning nazanaza@aol.com

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