“For sixty years, the young lady who had been hit by a train near a boarding house in Willoughby was simply known as “The Girl in Blue.” No one knew who she was, where she was going or who to contact about her death on Christmas Eve 1933. She carried no identification, only 90 cents and a ticket to Corry, Pennsylvania. She wore a blue dress and blue shoes.
McMahon Funeral Home adopted this young lady’s funeral arrangements. Local donations paid for a headstone and flowers. More than 3,000 local residents went to McMahon Funeral Home to bid farewell to a girl they never knew.
Her identity remained a mystery of national interest until a local newspaper story commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of her death sparked a reader to contact a title agency that researched records from the sale of properties in Warren County, Pennsylvania. State authorities determined that Josephine Klimczak was The Girl in Blue. Lake County records, however, have not changed the death certificate; she is still listed as The Girl in Blue”
Everyone deserves to be remembered. The poem by Linda Ellis, “The Dash,” points out that even if a tombstone records only 1914-1933, the most important part of the inscription is the hyphen between those two dates: “What matters is how we live and love, and how we spend our dash.”
My mother had a baby sister who passed away after a brief sojourn on the earth. For 91 years she lay unmarked and unremembered, a cruel oversight for my baby aunt that I was able to rectify in 2009.
This is one reason cemeteries for me are a place of peace and contemplation rather than sorrow – every one who lies therein had value, was loved, and was valued by others, at least at some point in their lives. Many accomplished significant things, others accomplished lives of quiet dignity; even those who may have been considered monsters by some were not always so.
“Unknown but not forgotten” is the kindest memorial to a lost girl, Josephine Klimczak; may she rest in peace.
The Old Wolf has spoken.