Thursday, November 13, 2014

Rattling Old Bones



There’s excitement in Greece these days because a skeleton—albeit a rather disjointed one!—has been unearthed in a tomb dating from the time of Alexander the Great. Who is it? Well, maybe his Persian wife, maybe his mother, or maybe one of his generals. It’s a pretty impressive tomb, so it’s likely somebody pretty impressive once walked around with those bones! Stay tuned. Oh, and an interesting trivia tidbit:  Alexander’s grave has never been identified, although that of his father, Philip II of Macedon was discovered in 1977.
Cave researchers near Salzburg, Austria, weren’t expecting to find a skeleton at all, and in all likelihood it will never be identified. Apparently a skier plunged to his/her death “many decades ago”. Was he/she missed? Searched for at the time? Or did the disappearance go unnoticed? And if so, why? There’s a story here somewhere.
These stories set me remembering how in my hometown, the practice field next to the junior college and across the street from the old high school became known as “Cemetery Gridiron” because students would often step into an unmarked grave from an early burial place. Eventually all the remains which could be found were disinterred and removed to the main city cemetery along with any markers still in existence. I’ve seen the spot where the earliest city inhabitants now rest.
So, of course (!!) I looked up Fairmount Cemetery’s current list of burials and copied some of the notes found beside various entries. There are just under 25,000 souls now resting there, and it’s where I’ll be, too, someday. But before I take my allotted place, I just might have to write a story prompted by one of these:
·        Steel vault
·        Concrete box
·        Pine box
·        No container
·        County burial
·        Box (infant)
·        Cremains
·        Disinterred, sent to______________
·        Ashes
·        Paupers grave
·        Removed to___________
·        Concrete box stacked
·        At foot of_____________
·        From old cemetery (“Cemetery Gridiron”)
·        Died at Sanitorium (state tuberculosis hospital)
·        County-city
·        Cremains over husband’s grave
·        Wooden box
·        Indigent cremains
·        State
·        Grave where ______________remains were removed
·        Free Ground
·        Public Ground
·        Baby Plot
·        Moved 6/21/1921. Location unknown
·        American Legion
·        Confederate Plot
·        Veterans Section
·        Cremains at head of______________
·        Cremains at east side of husband’s ashes
·        Dates mixed
·        Fiber casket
·        Buried in center of lot
·        Unable to locate
·        Center space—baby on north
·        No name or unknown
·        Leg only---worker at 3 Rivers Dam, lost leg in accident (1961)
Reading through this list, you can’t help but wonder—especially about the last one!
Moving on, history is full of “boot hills”, but Boot Hill Cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona, is probably the most famous. From the list of causes of death, Tombstone wasn’t the safest place to live in, but probably no place was safe back in those days. Here’s what I gleaned:
·        Stabbed
·        Unknown
·        Scarlet fever (child)
·        Murdered
·        Shot
·        Hanged
·        Ambushed on cattle drive
·        Saloon brawl
·        Stoned to death by Apaches
·        Suicide
·        Legally hanged
·        Drowned
·        Diphtheria
·        Natural death
·        Lynched
·        Fell from wagon, skull crushed
·        Blown up by blast
·        Fall from a pair of stilts (young boy)
·        Suspected poisoning
·        Pneumonia
·        Shot over mining claim
·        Childbirth
·        Sudden death
·        Blow on back of head, broken ribs, ruptured liver
·        Hanged by mistake
·        Premature blast at mining site
·        Ambushed by Indians
·        Inflammation of bowels
·        Nephritis
·        Accidentally shot
·        Thrown from wagon, trampled by horses
·        Stampede
·        Closed room with charcoal fumes
·        Well caved in
·        Fall to bottom of mine shaft
·        Fall from cliff
·        Consumption
·        Smallpox
·        Leprosy
·        Disagreement over cock fight
·        Stillbirth
This is the Friday Five, and if you’ve counted, you’ve come up with only four. So let me throw this last unrelated link into the mix. Don Vito Corleone of The Godfather fame inhabited this Staten Island mansion on screen. Now it’s up for sale. While only the exterior was filmed, you can glimpse a room here. While no one’s going to turn up any skeletons in the closets, I’m sure Don Corleone (if he’d really lived there!) left a few secrets behind. One never knows…


    And speaking of secrets, poor Trixie Blake turned up more of them than she ever wanted to know in The Dreamland Series. Stretching even farther back, the secret room of the historic Ashley home saved more than one life in Where Is Papa’s Shining Star? (If walls could talk…)



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