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Author: Subject: Hurricanes Mess With Blues Legend Gatemouth Brown Even In The Grave

Zen Peach





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  posted on 9/16/2008 at 02:45 PM
Blues legend Gatemouth Brown had cancer already by the time Hurricane Katrina hit .He lived in Slidell, Louisiana, which is across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. I interviewed Gate about a year before Katrina hit, and after he knew he had cancer. He had lived through hurricanes for most of his life, growing up in southern Texas and living in Slidell. Because the cancer was so far along, when he had to flee Katrina and go to Texas, the trip was too much for him and was basically was the last straw and it killed him. He left behind his house which was completely destroyed by Katrina, and all of his memorabilia from his career was destroyed with it. Gate was buried in Texas.

Cue Hurricane Ike. Ike has been a mother of a storm, and has even wreaked some havoc all of the way uphere in Ohio (see thread about it in Whipping Post).One of the sad aspects of Ike was the bringing up of coffins from the ground and floating them down the road. As you can probably guess- one of those coffins was gatemouth;

quote:
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/tx/6002915.html

Even dead seemed to try to flee Ike's wrath
© 2008 The Associated Press
Sept. 15, 2008, 2:15PM


ORANGE, Texas — Hurricane Katrina chased bluesman Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown from his adopted home in New Orleans -- to the Texas Gulf coast.

Brown died in exile in Orange, where he grew up.

Now another hurricane has disturbed his rest.

The 1982 Grammy Award winner's casket was one of dozens belched up by the ground when Gulf and rain from Hurricane Ike flooded Hollywood Cemetery.

Debris from the storm still litters the cemetery, mingled with "graveware" trinkets left behind by mourners — such as a a toy car, a plaster angel, a doll.

The top of Brown's vault popped off. His bronze casket floated away.

But three jars of Bama grape jelly remained by his aluminum marker.

The 81-year-old musician was living in suburban New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005.

He died the following month, after a battle with cancer.






[Edited on 9/16/2008 by DerekFromCincinnati]

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 9/16/2008 at 02:49 PM
Just read this in newspaper - bizarre.

 

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  posted on 9/16/2008 at 02:53 PM
Yet the jelly remained.

Bizarre, indeed

 

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  posted on 9/16/2008 at 03:01 PM
This is why I'm getting cremated. Just put me in a Folger's can and pop the top.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 9/16/2008 at 03:15 PM
I read it last night online and just didn't have the heart to post it here. Too depressing. They didn't say if he and his casket were recovered or not.

Which brings me to another topic....I've seen burial vaults where you lay the slab on the bottom of the excavation, the casket goes in, then the vault goes over the top of the casket. It's enough weight to keep it from "popping up" and floating away in the event of a flood. Seems like places like LA (the state) would require them.

 

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  posted on 9/17/2008 at 06:15 PM
quote:
http://www.keyetv.com/content/news/topnews/story.aspx?content_id=772d 410a-578d-4329-b77d-f9eaf21f3142


In far southeast Texas, life and even death have been turned upside down by Hurricane Ike.

At the old Hollywood Cemetery in Orange people stopped to mourn the loss of what was sacred ground. The storm surge raked the burial site, disinterring dozens of graves.

"That's our people in there and you want them to rest. They can't rest," Roxanna Blanchard said.

Now, the living are having trouble resting, too.

Cemetery visitors paced back and forth trying to figure out which casket belonged in which plot.

Among those out there looking for lost loved ones CBS 42 found a brother who is in search of a gold casket that contains the remains of a blues legend.

Bobby Brown's brother was Grammy award winning string musician Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, who played shows around the world, including the Austin City Limits Festival as recently as 2003.

"I don't like to brag on him but he was the best I have ever known who played," said his proud younger brother Bobby.

He's now looking for "Gatemouth" Brown, who was buried 3 years ago in what is now just a hole filled with storm water.

"I can't understand how that whole top blew off because you can't even move it," said Bobby, trying in vain to lift the concrete grave cover that was picked up by the floodwaters.

Now, in search of his brother's casket, all Bobby has to go on is a newspaper picture from the day his notable sibling was laid to rest.

It gives a glimpse of some of the decorative detail on the coffin. But there are too many caskets unearthed to figure out which one belongs to his brother, so Bobby will have to return.

As long as there is a void in the ground here, there will be one in his heart as well.

 

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  posted on 9/22/2008 at 05:59 PM
quote:
http://www.slidellsentry.com/articles/2008/09/19/news/doc48d3b366047f784837 6621.txt


Katrina took popular Slidell musician's home; Ike floods his final resting place

By Marcelle Hanemann

Pontchartrain Newspapers

Hurricane Ike moved a lot of people out of their homes from Louisiana and Texas and all the way up through the country as it rampaged. Some left on their own. Others did not heed calls for evacuation, but were roused to action by wind and water. Still others, unable to react, were completely at the mercy of the hurricane.

Longtime Slidell resident Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown was among the latter. It was not exactly his home that was disturbed by the storm. It was his final resting place in Orange, Texas.

The historic Hollywood Cemetery, not far from the Sabine River, flooded. The top of Brown’s vault popped off, and his bronze casket floated away.
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown

“Somebody made the comment that he’s evidently still touring,” said Bogalusa’s Jim Bateman, Brown’s manager and friend for 29 years. “He probably wouldn’t care too much to be in the ground anyway.”

The tireless Grammy winner who played blues, county, jazz, zydeco and Cajun music once joked that he’d started off doing 300 gigs a year, then “backed off to 250.”

Apparently, he just can’t stop.

Brown has been credited with influencing performers as diverse as Eric Clapton, Frank Zappa and Joe Louis Walker.

He was a familiar presence, with his black cowboy hat and boots and his distinctive sound, at the Studio in the Country outside Bogalusa, where Bateman met him in 1973.

Brown died at his brother’s home in Texas at the age of 81.

That was on Sept. 10, 2005, just days after he’d been moved by another storm. The by-then-frail music man, who was battling lung cancer and heart disease, lost his Slidell home to Hurricane Katrina. He was reportedly devastated.

“It’s strange all that happened with Katrina, then this happened,” said Bateman.

After Ike, a small aluminum marker and three jars of jelly, perhaps left by a fan of Brown’s instrumental classic “Grape Jelly,” remained at his grave site. But Brown was gone.

“I saw an article where his brother was interviewed,” said Bateman. “He said there were a number of caskets out of place, dozens. He had a picture from the funeral, but there could be several that look the same. I don’t know how they’re going to match them up.”

He said Brown’s estate had been in the process of getting a permanent marker for his grave.

“I think they were about ready to do it when the hurricane hit,” said Bateman. “Hopefully, they’ll get him reburied and get the marker up.”

The work of reclaiming the bodies and restoring the historic black cemetery is reportedly under way. The dead await sorting.

And while Brown was displaced by yet another hurricane, one can almost hear him putting the story to music — blues mixed with a rich lifetime of other influences— with guitar riffs and a voice that sounds deep like a big old gate.

“Gate always had interesting stuff happening around him,” said Bateman. “I guess it’s not to be unexpected that he continues to stay in the news.”


 

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  posted on 10/29/2008 at 06:14 PM
quote:
http://www.beaumontenterprise.com/news/local/caskets_at_hollywood_cem etery_await_reburial_10-28-2008.html


Caskets at Hollywood Cemetery await reburial
By MARGARET TOAL
October, 28, 2008



So close, but so far away.

In Hollywood Cemetery, new caskets containing the dead are only yards from their graves.

Three refrigerated truck trailers have been parked on the side of the site for more than a month, storing the caskets that floated out of their concrete surface vaults during the storm surge of Hurricane Ike on Sept. 13.

Getting the dead back to their proper spots hasn't been easy for the historic African-American cemetery, which dates to 1875.

"Everybody's waiting to see if FEMA is going to do something. That's the prevailing attitude," said Wayne Sparrow, a third-generation owner of Sparrow Funeral Home in Orange.

FEMA won't rebury the caskets and the vaults, said Orange Mayor Brown Claybar, who also is a funeral home owner. He said the city can't legally spend public money on private property, so the city can't help.

Mount Zion Baptist Church in Orange owns the cemetery but has been at odds with a non-profit group that operates the cemetery. Last year, a local businessman, now deceased, gave the cemetery association $100,000 for a trust fund, with only the interest to be spent on general upkeep like lawn care.

Sparrow said he has gotten "very reasonable" estimates for restoring the caskets and vaults.

"It's not a major cost, but nobody's stepped up to the plate," he said.

No one at Mount Zion could be reached for comment.

Last week, seven caskets quietly were replaced. S.I. Funeral Service of Beaumont, which makes the heavy concrete vaults, voluntarily did five one day and then two more a few days later when personnel were at the cemetery for a fu-neral, Sparrow said.

Thirty-three caskets came out of their vaults during the surge, he said, a number considerably smaller than the 100 reported in the first hours after parts of Orange flooded. Rescuers in boats, trying to save people trapped in houses and apartments, apparently saw floating caskets and overestimated the number.

As the waters subsided, emergency responders took the caskets back to the cemetery on Simmons Drive. Within five days, a federal Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team of morticians came to the cemetery to try to identify the dead in the caskets.

Sparrow, who had volunteered for similar duty after Hurricane Katrina, had a novel suggestion for the team. He thought that he and his wife, Francine, also a mortician, probably could identify some of the caskets without having to send them to an out-of-town site.

They were able to identify 15 of the caskets, including the one of Grammy Award-winning singer-musician Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown.

"They never left the cemetery," Sparrow said of the 15 caskets.

The Sparrows spent their 20th wedding anniversary at the cemetery identifying caskets. Their teenage son helped with some of the physical work. Sparrow he and has family haven't been paid for their work.

The response team took others to a lab for identification using information like dental records and X-rays. Some still have not been positively identified, he said.

The federally supported response-team program provided new caskets, he said.

"Their task is to secure and identify," Sparrow said. "They're technically through, though they'll still be identifying."

Restoring the cemetery won't be easy. The surge was so strong that complete vaults, about 8 feet long, 5 feet tall and weighing hundreds of pounds, were floated out of the ground and left in other parts of the cemetery, some stacked on top of others.

Sparrow said regular heavy equipment machines can't be used on the cemetery grounds because of possible damage to graves and other vaults. A special crane with a boom to reach over existing graves is needed to move the concrete vaults.

Small tombstones, knocked over and broken, could be replaced by hand. One such marker has a birth date of 1870 and a death date of 1891.

The chain-link fence on the north side of the cemetery is piled with flotsam and trash left by the surge, along with ar-tificial flowers from gravesites. Old tires, beer bottles and balls mix with faded fabric daisies and dead marsh grass.

But the trash is of little concern in this historic burial site. The refrigerated trailers and upturned concrete vaults, visible from the street, show what a disaster can leave.

On Tuesday, Sparrow was optimistic about finding some help to get the dead back to what was supposed to be their final resting place.

"It seems there should be some kind of ethical and moral obligation," he said.



 

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