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When "perpetual care" does not include cleaning headstones

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On a recent trip to the area, an elderly gentleman drove to the cemetery where his wife had been interred nearly eighteen years earlier. He pulled his car over when he recognized some familiar landmarks, got out and began to look for the familiar headstone. Memory and eyesight are not his problem, but he was still stymied. What had happened that he could not find her?

Finally getting his bearings, he zeroed in only to find a stone rendered unrecognizable because of mold, moss and lichen. What was to have been a sentimental moment, turned into one of ire and discontent.

The realization was: "perpetual care" refers only to general landscape maintenance, not to care of monuments unless specifically contracted for under agreement with the cemetery management.

What to do?

In this case, the headstone was made of granite from Barre, Vermont; stronger than marble, polished and engraved, but no match for the harsh weather hereabout. Summer is not too damaging, but the dark, moist winters give the mold a chance to spread, and the lichens and mosses dig their roots into the porous rock.

There are companies throughout the United States that specialize in cleaning such monuments, but the price is dear and it is a temporary fix. To find such a company, contact a monument supplier in the area of the cemetery. They have the equipment, and more importantly, the insurance in case any damage is done to nearby sites.

The answer:

"Nustone" The answer was supplied by both Tom Begin and Donald Allen of the Granite City Tool Company in Barre, VT.

The company was started in 1885 in Barre, the center of the granite industry. Today, 120 years later, it is still run by the third generation of the same family. This is typical of the entire granite business, from the time the Scots, then the Italians and Polish craftspeople came to the Green Mountains to open and run quarries. It is an all family affair.

Donald Allen was pleased to tell me about Nustone, their own cleaner that is sold by them around the world. It is environmentally safe, non-corrosive, and will not harm human or plant life. It comes in one gallon containers and all you need in addition is water and a good natural bristle brush. Oh, and the "armstrong" technique - muscle.

To order Nustone: The Granite City Tool Company can be reached at this toll-free number: 800-451-4570. They ship all over the United States.

Incidentally, while talking to Donald Allen, I learned that the Aldrich Library in Barry has copies of Mr. Allen's history of the Barre cemeteries for sale.

And be sure to visit the Hope Cemetery in Barre - astounding, to say the least.

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