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Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

If Only The Dead Could Talk

Roadside Curiosities

Some of you might consider this to be a strange revelation - but I happen to harbor several eccentricities.

No way! 

Yep.  And thankfully they are few in number. 

One of those is I like cemeteries.  The older the better - much more charm than those comfy modern-day mausoleums with everyone packed into the wall like a giant wine rack.

Consider a cemetery's fine qualities.

They're quiet, they allow time for reflection and they're vast repositories of untold or incomplete stories worth pondering.

Nonetheless - a visit to a cemetery will on occasion result in a story revealing itself in it's totality.  A surprise discovery that you didn't expect.

Like the time my wife and I were strolling-about in the old section of Mobile, Alabama.  We came across a large wrought iron gate above which it said - Church Street Grave Yard.  Not cemetery - but Grave Yard.  Doesn't that have a nice ring to it?  And this grave yard was filled with old, toppling headstones and above ground tombs.  It begged to be explored.

Buried there were people born in the 1700s.  There were dead from the Revolutionary War, the war of 1812 and the war between the states.  Solitary graves and large family plots.  Catholics buried in their corner and the Protestants in theirs.  And ancient live oaks - festooned in moss - a few of which were growing right from someone's final resting place. 

One grave stood-out from all the others.  A black granite slab adorned with carnival beads, little plastic monkeys, parade doubloons and a bottle of whiskey.

The founder of modern Mardi Gras was laid to rest here.

Joe Cain.

The locals in Mobile would tell you that the term Raising Cain comes from the tradition of revelers dancing on his grave with the intent of resurrecting his spirit.  

Well I don't know about that but it was a darn-good cemetery.

Just recently I was out riding my bicycle and came across a rural cemetery. 

The dead spoke to me - Hey Tom.  Stop here.  Rest in the shade.  Allow us an opportunity to tell our stories.

What's not to like about that?  (There is that pesky eccentricity again).

Propping the bike against a tree I fetched my water bottle and did just that.

There were simple markers noting the resting spot of those who probably led simple and uncomplicated lives. 

There were large plots with generations of dead.  Some even had fresh flowers.  Which would imply they are not all dead - at least just yet.

There was a modern marker sporting an engraving of a majestic whitetail.  A deer hunter I suppose.

Included were veterans of both World Wars, Korea and Vietnam.  Small American flags still fluttered following a visit by the Legion Post on Veterans Day.

There were the implied stories of difficult times and repeated tragedy - evidenced perhaps in the short lives of these three siblings in a family plot.

Or the touching monument with infant's shoes marking the grave of this child -

Born Nov 22, 1901  Died Mar 15, 1902

And this solitary headstone for a woman laid to rest after perishing four days past her twentieth birthday.  It read as follows -

Our darling one hath gone before to greet us on the blissful shore.

Born Nov 4, 1886  Shot in Lincoln Park Chicago November 8, 1906

I wonder what the story is behind this?

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