There is a large celebration on Memorial Day at our cemetery, but not on Veterans day. Kathleen and I decided to go over there and set up a table complete with snacks, flowers, and handouts, in case anyone wanted to talk, and we could tell them of the Cemetery Stroll next year, which will be dedicated to Veterans who are buried there. We both thought “What are we doing? Nobody will be there but us” But a driving force encouraged us to go We really thought we would just sit there all day and visit.
It turned out to be a magical day at the cemetery!! Our first visitor was one of the administrators of Sunnyslope as well as many other cemeteries that go out past Palm Springs. Then the caretaker, whom we love and depend on, Eddie, came over. We told him that we decided to do Veterans next year. Immediately he said “Hey! How about these people?” He pointed to two graves that were just feet from our table. They are flat stones, which are usually not as interesting, but immediately they sparked interest. Two separate stones, one each for the man and one for his wife. The fellow fought in WWI, the wife was in WWII. Eddie said that the man would close the gate at the cemetery every night, because he lived across the street. He pointed across the street and said ”in that house on the corner” Right then we knew they were possibilities. Then Eddie gave the best piece of info…The man was a clown for Barnum and Bailey circus for 30 years and she was his assistant. Of course it all has to be researched, but we got our first names for next year!
Eddie said he would be thinking about others for us.
Not too long after that, a couple came over to talk. They both had the day off and decided to start doing genealogy at the cemetery. We talked for a while then asked “what are the names you are working on?” One was a family we had just portrayed at the last Cemetery Stroll, a couple weeks ago. And Kathleen had all the research in the trunk of her car. Can you imagine being handed a stack of research two inches high, while you just happen to be in the cemetery, when two ladies just happen to be there with the right info!! She was jumping up and down!! And so were we.
Several people drove by and we had nice talks, passed out a postcard with our information on it so they could submit ideas and soldiers stories to us. Then Eddie came over again and said “I have something to show you.” He took us the far end of the cemetery and told stories about many other people. He pointed out stones I hadn’t noticed before. We couldn’t write notes fast enough. One story he told was a man had it in his will that his family must spend X amount on his funeral or none of them would get anything from his estate. He has a lovely stone and a nice marble bench. And there were fresh flowers at his marker. Now I want to go to the courthouse and get a copy of that will.
Later in the day I was walking around with my camera and a man came up, got out of his truck and pulled a bagpipe out. I started to take a picture and he questioned me with his body language. I went over and said I just wanted to take a picture, are you here to see a loved one? “No,” he replied, “I just wanted to pay tribute to my fellow soldiers” Oh! My heart sung a few notes, and then he played as he stood in front of the soldiers’ monument. Myself and many silent citizens were his only audience, and we got a show! I asked him about the songs: it was a medley of Minstrel Boy, each armed forces song and ending with Amazing Grace.