Monday, September 23, 2013

Ghosts Are Good For Business, Part 3

When last I left you, I was returning my dowsing rods at the Prairie Home Cemetery in Holdrege, Nebraska. Skip Meyer, the class instructor, had much more on his agenda than just locating bodies underground!

Holdrege is an old cemetery by Nebraska standards. It’s not old by east coast standards and certainly not by European standards. However, we do have some century-old tombstones here, and that’s what sparked my interest in this class. 

I normally don’t frequent cemeteries, but two years ago I needed some garden dirt. Our cemetery has great soil, and it’s free for the taking (just don't let yourself dwell on why there are piles of dirt!) I made about six trips to the cemetery on behalf of my flower garden. Each time I went, I took the driveway that went by the oldest tombstones, dating to the 1800’s.

What moved me most on these trips, was how many young people were buried in this section. Statistically, half the children born in the 1800’s died before the age of ten. The typical child headstone was inexpensive and bore the impression of a dove, angel, or lamb. Many of the headstones from this time period, both child and adult, were ordered from the Sears and Roebuck catalog:

One unusual and particularly touching grave site offered us a lesson in how to read old headstones covered in moss. The traditional school of thought is to put a piece of paper over the headstone and do a crayon/pencil rubbing of the inscription. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried this, but it’s not as easy as you think! Skip maintains that crayon rubbings damage old stones. Instead, he advocates using shaving cream! 

"Baby Gene, Let's Go Peep Mamma"
3 year-old child

First get permission from the cemetery office (if there is one). Take a can of NON-MENTHOL shaving cream. This is very important for the safety of the stone! Spray it onto a putty knife or paint spatula. Gently rub it across the stone. The inscription will pop out with perfect clarity! When you’re finished, take a spray bottle of plain water and squirt the stone clean.

Exploring cemeteries may see macabre to some people, but to me, it's a powerful reminder that we were put on this earth to love one another. I left the cemetery class a humbler woman than when I arrived.


No comments:

Post a Comment