Friday, September 11, 2009


We lived in the lovely town of Albany, Oregon, until just after our boy turned 4 years old. The city cemetery was about a block away from where we lived, in the downstairs part of a grand old Victorian house that had been converted into two apartments. On days when it wasn't raining or I didn't feel like loading him up on the bike and taking off on an adventure, we often walked there. He wasn't able to read the markers on the graves, of course, but he liked to look at them with me. Each marker had its own story to tell, and some of the stories gave great food for thought and wonderment. What happened in that family that 5 little children all died by the time they were 2 years old?

He enjoys visiting graveyards and looking at the markers even today. I don't make it a habit these days of visiting graveyards. One of the last times I went to a country cemetery carved out of the woods, to watch birds, I became covered in seed ticks. It was an experience I would not care to have again.

Cloudia (I love saying her name... I love the way my mouth feels when it says the c-l-o-u sound) did a very interesting photo essay not too long ago on a cemetery with many Chinese people buried in it. We don't have anything quite that interesting here, at least not in the city cemetery in town. It has rules about what can and can't be put on the grave.

But there are many cemeteries scattered around the countryside, such as the one where I got up close and personal with the ticks. Some are connected with country churches. We have lived here long enough now that I know several people who are buried in the cemetery behind Pine Grove church.

I knew the grandpa that is buried here.

Many of the cemeteries are privately owned, such as this one, which is on the road to the lake.

Most of the people who are buried here are from the Collins clan.

And the families of some of these people apparently did not have money to purchase a fancy marker for the grave. So they made their own markers out of cement.

And embedded bits of glass and unusual stones to make them personal....

and tried to make them pretty...

The homemade markers are not very durable...

and some of the older ones are deteriorating...

Already, some of the marbles are falling out of this marker for Charley Collins, who died in 2007.

Charley must have liked racing cars...

A poem to think on...

In a Disused Graveyard

The living come with grassy tread
To read the gravestones on the hill
The graveyard draws the living still
But never any more the dead

The verses in it say and say:
'The ones who living come today
To read the stones and go away
Tomorrow dead will come to stay.'

So sure of death the marbles rhyme,
Yet can't help marking all the time
How no one dead will seem to come
What is it men are shirking from?

It would be clever
And tell the stones: Men hate to die.
And have stopped dying now forever.
I think they would believe the lie.

--Robert Frost

From: Selected Poems of Robert Frost

Today is one of those days that people remember. They remember what they were doing on September 11. I was busy pushing the broom at the post office and trundling around to mail cases with my trashcan on rollers. Everything came to a halt when the news came over the radio. At first we thought it was a joke announcement. But then we knew better.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Such an interesting log and informative blog. I confess to an interest in old graveyards myself.
Thanks for the visit...nice to see you.