I am partaking in the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril reading challenge that is put on every year by Carl who writes the blog Stainless Steel Droppings. In addition to encouraging us to read scary-type books, he has put out a couple of writing opportunities as well. The first topic to post is about GRAVEYARDS as we are doing a group read of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman this month.
So the first thing I thought about was the difference between the words “cemetery” and “graveyard.” Why is one considered to be more proper and the other not? Is it because of those reasons that “graveyard” sounds spookier and connotes visions of tumbled-down headstones, phosphorescent green lichen, pearlescent fog, and (gulp) ghosts? Cemetery sounds organized, clean, sunny and zipped up, right?
Growing up, I did not have many experiences with graveyards. My maternal grandfather died when I was about 8 years old, and he was buried in a wall (yes, at a cemetery). I don’t remember going there as a child but once, as I suppose our family wasn’t much for thinking anyone was still “there” to visit. What I clearly do remember is that next to my grandfather’s place was a sign that said: “Reserved for” followed by my grandmother’s name. I thought that little creepy/interesting and always wondered what my grandmother thought about that. Incidentally, they held that reservation for 31 years.
In the suburbs, there didn’t seem to be many cemeteries. But being Texas, of course the ones we did have were pretty huge. There were none near my house to explore, though if I am being honest, I wouldn’t have gone in anyway. What some people would call “Major Scaredy Cat” I would call “Girl with Super Vivid Imagination.” I learned at an early age what I could handle and with just a small number of minor mishaps along the way, I pretty much stuck to my guns regarding what I’ll call “Scary Stuff.”
Because of my lack of experience with most things grave-y, I decided I would do a sort of word association and write down the things that popped into my head. I didn’t think at first that I had anything to say, but maybe I do after all.
- Cleaned headstones for Girl Scouts: I honestly can’t remember where this graveyard was, but we scrubbed away for some sort of merit badge.
- Graveyard on friend’s property: I have a friend whose parents owned a ranch in West, Texas for many years. There was a small family cemetery on the property when they bought it. It even had a low black wrought iron fence. We went out late at night with flashlights to explore and didn’t stay very long.
- Graveyards in Europe: I can vaguely remember visiting cemeteries where American soldiers were buried. I just can’t remember where. Come on, I was 7.
- All of my grandparents and my father are together-ish at a cemetery in Dallas. Three in a wall and two cremated and in an area very close to Mickey Mantle. Yes, people do leave baseballs for Mickey on the floor.
- In college in Illinois, there was a church on the “back road” that was next to a small cemetery. Two of my guy friends stopped there with me and my best friend and tried to get us to go in. No way. The guys got out of the car and ran around and screamed, then they screamed for real when a pack of dogs started chasing them. Sweet!
- Is it just me, or does the ground seem extra squishy in cemeteries/graveyards?
- We went to New Orleans when I was a kid (not to party, but to see the King Tut exhibit) and I thought the crypts and why you can’t bury anyone there morbidly fascinating.
- In Dallas, there (supposedly) was a woman who requested a certain plot as it faces Neiman-Marcus across the street (her favorite store).
- Have you been to Westminster Abbey? I know not everyone who has a nameplate has been buried there, but it is cool (except for the walking on them thing).
- My brother thinks he’s super cool ‘cause when he was 10, he knew who Jim Morrison was. So when he and my dad went to Paris, they went and saw his grave. Long live leather pants!
- A lot of the action and discussion in Meg Cabot’s fabulous Abandon series takes place in an old graveyard.
Do you have any creepy tales or sightings or stories about graveyards? Leave them in the comments below!