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Lively learning event planned at Dunedin Cemetery

DUNEDIN

The dearly departed will rise again.

Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

That's when the Dunedin Historical Museum hosts its 13th annual History Comes Alive event at the Dunedin Cemetery.

It's nothing scary, just a charming bunch of old souls dying to tell visitors about themselves, their town and what life was like during bygone eras.

Volunteer re-enactors will dress in period costume and make themselves right at home graveside while they share old scrapbooks, artifacts and a bit of fresh air.

"It's a family event," said museum director Vinnie Luisi.

"Many prominent Dunedin families were buried at the Dunedin Cemetery, and this is a great opportunity for kids to learn about what life used to be like."

The event has been held in October for the past seven years, but organizers thought more would people attend if it was held in January when the weather is cooler and snowbirds flock to town.

The 9-acre Dunedin Cemetery was established in the late 1870s, Luisi said.

"Many of the people buried there helped define the look of Dunedin today," he said.

Former Dunedin notables featured this year are Dr. W.S. Blatchley, a famous naturalist; William J. Christie, Dunedin city commissioner and postmaster; Albert and Henrietta Lando, actors who opened a silent-movie theater; Elizabeth Skinner Jackson, a champion for women's right to vote; Johanna Daniel, whose family operated the first dairy in the area; and Dr. Jason Edgar, Dunedin's first doctor and newspaper publisher.

Knowledge about the early citizens is gained from family members, old scrapbooks, newspaper clippings and other resources at the museum.

Eric Houghton, 60, and Linda Sanders, 63, are volunteer re-enactors from Dunedin who will play Albert (1870-1948) and Henrietta (1868-1949) Lando, a couple of actors of the "legitimate theater" who performed in front of Teddy Roosevelt and his children in the White House.

"My favorite role was that of Rip Van Winkle," Houghton said when asked about Lando. "I was known as the man of at least 500 faces."

Lando met his leading lady, Henrietta, while acting. They enjoyed wintering in Florida, and when they traveled to the Dunedin area, it was "love at first sight," Houghton said.

The couple moved from the New England area and soon opened the Dixie Theater on Main Street, where many a silent movie played. (Coincidentally, Houghton's grandmother was the pianist.)

They also owned a lunch shop where they served sandwiches, coffee and "popcorn crispettes."

Later, they worked at the Dunedin Junior High School — she as cafeteria manager and he as the custodian — but their real passion was helping to produce school plays there.

He died after a prolonged illness at 78. Henrietta died a year later.

"Peacefully, in bed, with Albert's picture by my side," Sanders said, sighing.

On Saturday, Sandy Kinzer, 48, will channel Johanna Daniel, who lived from 1891 to 1956.

She and her husband, Will, owned Jersey cows and Brahman cattle on a sand road that is now State Road 580. They carted their milk to town on a milk wagon.

Kinzer said she plans to churn butter Saturday and give out samples.

Getting into her character, she said, "We eloped at a very young age, riding the horse buggy that ran all night to Dade City."

They would have seven children. After Will's death, Johanna would run a boardinghouse, cook for newlyweds on Honeymoon Island, and serve as a midwife.

"I knew a lot about birthin' babies," Kinzer said.

Have a Diversions idea? Reach Terri Bryce Reeves at treeves@tampabay.rr.com

If you go

What: History Comes Alive at the Dunedin Cemetery, a living-history event sponsored by the Dunedin Historical Museum.

Where: Various gravesides in the cemetery at 2400 Keene Road, south of State Road 580.

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Saturday.

Cost: A $2 donation from adults is suggested. Admission includes a program/map, a souvenir fan and refreshments.

For information: Call the Dunedin Historical Museum at (727) 736-1176.

Lively learning event planned at Dunedin Cemetery 01/21/10 [Last modified: Thursday, January 21, 2010 5:15pm]
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