You Just Never Know

 Posted by at 12:16 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 122016

Living and traveling in an RV fulltime, you just never know how many interesting places you’ll discover, and how many more you drive right on past without even knowing they are there. It’s amazing what you can find with just a couple of quick Internet searches.

A good example is Manasota Memorial Park, a cemetery on 53rd Avenue (State Route 70) here in Bradenton. We’ve driven past it many times and had no idea how many famous and semi-famous people are interred there. But the other day when I was looking up something else on Google, I came across a notation that wire walker Karl Wallenda is buried there.

The patriarch of the Flying Wallendas, a family of arialists famous for performing high above amazed audiences, often without a safety net, the Wallendas set the standard by which other high wire acts are judged. Already famous throughout Europe, the Wallendas brought their act to the United States in 1928, drawing large crowds wherever they performed.

As comfortable on a thin cable stretched high in the air as the rest of us are on the ground, Karl Wallenda was known for his amazing death-defying stunts throughout his life. At an age when most men are enjoying retirement and doing nothing more strenuous than playing a round of golf, at age 65 Wallenda did his high-wire walk, known as a skywalk, across the Tallulah Gorge in Georgia, thrilling audiences when he did two headstands as he covered the quarter-mile distance across the gorge.

Four years later, in 1974, Wallenda set a skywalk distance record of 1,800 feet. That record stood until 2008, when his grandson, Rick Wallenda, broke it with a 2,000-foot skywalk.

It should be no surprise that a family who routinely performs such dangerous stunts would not be strangers to tragedy. Over the years many Wallenda family members have been seriously injured or killed during their acts. Fate finally caught up with Karl Wallenda on March 22, 1978, when at age 73, he attempted a wire walk 121 feet above the ground between the twin towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. As he fell to his death, the accident was caught on live TV.

Wallenda and several of his family members are all buried together in the same plot at Manasota Memorial Park.

Wallenda grave 2 small

Karl Wallenda headstone small

And they are not the only notables buried there. Others include Major League baseball players Johnny Cooney, Walter “Butch” Henline, Bill McKechnie, and Hall of Famer Paul Glee Waner. The cemetery is also the final resting place of circus owner Charles Ringling, U.S. Senator Lathrop Brown, and William Remsburg Grove, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Philippine Insurrection in 1899.

How many cemeteries have you driven past that hold the graves of famous people? You might be surprised what you could find at the Find A Grave website. How many historic sites, homes of famous people, interesting museums and oddball attractions do you pass by every day, never knowing they are there waiting to be discovered?

Thought For The Day – I just did a week’s worth of cardio after walking into a spider web.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  13 Responses to “You Just Never Know”

  1. Yuck! I don’t want to read things like this. Cemeteries are depressing. I’ll be in one some day but until that time comes I don’t want to read about them. Please try to right about more pleasant things in the future not morbid things like this.

  2. As to your quote of the day— I know the feeling. Larry and I always try to get the other one to go first on a hike to do spider web interference.

  3. Today was a pleasant change for the blog. I’m sure getting tired of hearing about nothing but your books and your fat fanny in some restaurant.
    Come-on lets get back to RVing and Bad Nick.

  4. Thanks for a great post. Cemeteries are fascinating and often lovely places especially the older ones. We have explored some famous resting places in Key West and Philadelphia and Nova Scotia. I find the National Cemeteries hauntingly beautiful. It’s futile to fear death. It comes to all of us.

  5. Nick, enjoyed your tale as always!
    Whatever happened to your Geo-Caching hobby? Did you give it up? Haven’t heard any mention in a long time.
    DW and I took it up recently due to RV friends introduction. She enjoys the hunt a lot more than I do!

  6. Why do people who “read” your blog think they can tell you what to write?


  7. I find cemeteries to be great places to visit. They are chock full of history about our country and the fascinating people who came before us. I sometimes set the overturned vase upright and fix the flowers, just to show respect to the people who helped make this great country what it is.

  8. Add me to the list of those who are fans of cemeteries. They are fascinating places. I enjoy the history of them any time of year and seeing how different towns honor their deceased veterans on Memorial Day.

    I was taught to be reverent when walking through, so they are places of peace for me.

    Of course, I also have weird sense of humor, so when I saw a headstone near by husband’s ancestors’ graves that said “Minty-Cooke,” I had to take a photo and send it to a friend who worked for Girl Scouts.

  9. My gosh, Dave K, you have to be one of the rudest people I’ve heard from in a long time! It’s Nick’s blog and he can write about whatever he wants to. Obviously a lot of us want to read it since I remember him saying his stats last year were over 770K visitors. If you don’t why don’t you take YOUR “fat fanny” elsewhere. Nobody takes attendance here and you won’t be missed.

  10. Great post! I love visiting the cemeteries in the south esp! Not sure why some people freak out about them. Usually quite beautiful and peaceful!

  11. We find cemeteries to be quite interesting too. Maybe you should write and article on “Comments”.

  12. I agree with those who find cemeteries interesting, too. If those who don’t like what you are writing, don’t read. There are still plenty of us who do.

  13. I like nosing around in old cemeteries. We’ve found some really interesting things. And as for the complainers- if you don’t like what Nick writes, read something else or write your own blog.

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