One Tank Trip: Dunmore Cemetery


There's nothing else like the solitude of a cemetery. It's peaceful, quiet and restful. You can think here, but when you think about it, you're not actually alone. You are surrounded by lots of folks who each have their own story.

"You have one, you have one, they have one," according to Julie Esty, the director of the Dearly Departed Players. "It's my job to find it and it's not always the rich and the famous because that person right there is just as important as that one over there in that big mausoleum and you know what? Death is the great equalizer. In the end, we all get the same six feet of dirt."

At the Dunmore Cemetery, just outside of Scranton, their stories, no matter how ordinary, are told. Every year, folks leave their day jobs and take on the roles of those who live here permanently.

They are known as the Dearly Departed Players and their tours, which are only on the first two Sundays in October, bring in hundreds of visitors.

"These people get one last voice and some of their messages are really beautiful," Esty said.

"I hope I do them justice because sometimes you get a silly part or a part that's very, very sad and I just hope I do them justice. I always say to them, 'Please help me remember my lines. I'm trying to do this for you so you are remembered.'" recalls Wendy Belaski, one of the Dearly Departed Players.

To be remembered is to be honored and they've been honoring the dead at Dunmore for 21 years.

The Dearly Departed Players have been a part of the October tours for the last 15 years. Esty does the research on those who are buried here.

"I used to work in a hospital when I was young and I left the hospital because I was afraid of death and look at where I ended up? I look at all of these people and I say they did it, they did it, they did and it when it comes to me I'm going to be able to do it too," she said.

It's one of the lessons she has learned from the dead.

In the meantime, while we're still here living and breathing, Esty said she hopes we're kind to one another. It's one of the messages she's weaved into this year's script.

"We'll all be all right. I really believe that from being out here and spending all these years out here with these people, that when you go on there is something good. The secret is to love," Esty said.