There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all
During my trip to the east coast last month, I took the opportunity to visit one of those places I remember from childhood, the cemetery. I remember it fondly because it was where I made my entry into the working world. In the spring of 1966, I obtained a work permit promptly after turning thirteen, and hired on as a seasonal grounds keeper. Our work force was composed of three middle school boys and as I recall, the job paid one dollar per hour!
In those days, the working world was all about the cycle of the seasons. In late March would find us clearing the countless tree limbs that had fallen during the winter storms. We didn’t have a chain saw so an especially large limb would be hefted to the burn pile by two of three of us. Yes, we worked harder, not smarter! Next we would spend about two weeks raking all of the turf grass. Talk about a boring task! Finally by late April it was time to begin the turf mowing. To a middle school boy, there is nothing like the sound and smell of a gasoline powered engine! We loved our mowing machines but hated using the hand clippers to trim the grass that grew next to the head stones.
The fall of the year was a magical time as the maple trees began to shed their colorful leaves. We would spend our after school hours raking the leaves into huge piles, the bigger the better. Next with the strike of one match, we set the piles ablaze sending flames soaring ten or more into the afternoon skies. Nothing beats the smell of burning maple leaves!
I worked seasonally at the cemetery until the fall I left for college. I never noticed until this visit how often the obelisk style monument was used in early 1900s. The monument in the foreground is nearly sixteen feet in height, constructed of solid granite, and likely cost a king’s ransom when purchased.
The Burton family marker is without question my most favorite headstone. The central portion is a solid chunk of polished granite that is three feet wide and nearly four feet in height. The ball that balances on the top is just over twelve inches in diameter; I always wondered how in the heck the stone masons moved it. Legend also has it that if you walked by this stone at night, a hand would reach out and attempt to grab you. I can’t testify one way or the other regarding the legend because I always made it a practice to be safely home before sunset.