Ok, so I admit it...I am strange, weird, coo coo, odd, crazy and my personal favorite...Eccentric! I am all of the afore mentioned but, I really do feel that at 50 I have earned the right to use the word and to call myself eccentric. To earn that title a person has had to be and be called all of the above names and then some. Today, I learned probably one of the most valuable lessons of cemetery lore...Just because someone is the go to, know everything person in any county does not mean that they like, understand and treasure cemeteries!!!!
I just can’t imagine anyone who calls themselves a “historian” not liking or valuing cemeteries? Mitch and I were out for a drive today and looking forward to a relaxing journey into the history of yet another cemetery...this time in Grant County, Arkansas...We stopped at a charming old country store at the crossroads of “in the middle of nowhere and I’ve never heard of that place” two counties east of our home. The old store was completely original down to the meat counter and plumbing supplies, kinda like in classic TV show The Waltons. I stopped in for a Snickers and Coke, the official food of cemetery hunting! The owner of the store was ringing me up and wondering what “strangers” were doing there? In Arkansas and most of the South the time honored past time is asking “what brings you to this neck of the woods”? I could actually feel all of the window curtains being pulled back a bit so that everyone could peek out and see me…
I asked the store owner and a customer if they knew of any interesting cemeteries and or cemetery stories. The owner picked up the phone and called an old timer who “knew everything” about Grant County and probably most of the surrounding counties and “will talk your ear off...it will be hard to get away”...Promises, promises! The old timer asked if we could come over to his house just down the road. So, off we went. I kinda didn’t have a great feeling...don’t know why...just didn’t... One should always listen to one’s inner voice!!! Nothing scary happened, at least not for us….When we arrived at the house the mans wife was happily wrapping presents so he took us to the living room and seated us…After all of the niceties I then I asked THE QUESTION??..Tell me about the cemeteries in this area? The man then immediately crossed his arms and he just shut up!!
Being a lifelong taphophile, I just never think that some people, many people don’t share my cemetery passion. By the way, a taphophile involves epitaphs, gravestone rubbing, photography, art, and history of (famous) deaths and the deaths of just ordinary people. Nothing morbid or yucky...just history and reading the lives of the people who are buried there through the beautiful monuments that they left us ...Civilizations have spent a millennia or more studying the Great Pyramids of Giza and digging up mummies and hauling them all over the world so that we can gawk at them…. So a little cemetery hunting can’t be all bad, can it? After all, people used to put a lot of thought into the symbols that they put on their monuments to tell their story...I feel that it is my obligation to remember and tell their stories!