Queens Cemetery to Celebrate Valentine's Day With Love Tales From Beyond

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on February 7, 2013 6:51am 

QUEENS — This gives everlasting love a new meaning.

For lovers looking for a Valentine's Day outing with a twist of the macabre, a Queens cemetery will host an event showing that even a graveyard can be romantic, with tales of old flames and 'til death do us parts.

Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens is home to many love stories, said Carl Ballenas, president of the Friends of Maple Grove and a history teacher at the Immaculate Conception School in Jamaica Estates.

“We want to focus on some of the many wonderful love stories that we’ve been finding about how people came together and rest together after all these years,” Ballenas said.

This Saturday, he plans to tell about 20 tales based of the lives of the departed interred at the Victorian cemetery, which has been a burial site since 1875.

One is the story of Jonathan and Mary Coward, who were childhood sweethearts before the Civil War.

“They were separated during the war, and they reunited 50 years later and married in 1911,” Ballenas said.

After six years of marriage, Jonathan died at the age of 75 in 1917, Ballenas said. Mary, who was a ninth-generation descendant of John and Priscilla Alden of the Mayflower, died in 1939 in Brooklyn.

Ballenas will also recount the strange story of Alonzo Adams, a sea captain from New England who became king of an island in the Caribbean. Adams, who married Josephine Lambert in 1870, took his bride on their honeymoon to the Far East, a trip that lasted 18 months.

After they returned with their son, who was born in Singapore, Adams went off on another adventure, this time sailing to the Swan Islands in the Caribbean, which he seized. He then  proclaimed himself king.

Later, he brought his wife, Josephine, and the family lived there for many years growing coconuts, before returning to the U.S., Ballenas said.

There will also be a more contemporary story about a young couple from Ozone Park — Ronald Chiofolo, 19, and Deborah Masullo, 17 — who died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a car at a drive-in movie theater in 1972. They are buried side-by-side with matching granite headstones, Ballenas said.

The cemetery is known for organizing walking tours. Because of the cold weather, however, Saturday's tour will be what Ballenas calls a “non-walking walking tour " presentation, during which visitors will be served cookies and hot chocolate.

Everyone is free to walk around the cemetery after the event, Ballenas said.

To make a reservation, call (347) 878-6614. The event is free for members; $5 for non-members.

“Love Never Dies” will be held on Feb. 9, at 2 p.m. at the Center at Maple Grove. The center is located at 127-15 Kew Gardens Rd., Kew Gardens, N.Y. 11415.

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