Tuesday, June 28, 2016

St Louis

When we visit a city, one of the first things we look for are the old, large cemeteries. We love seeing dead people. Since we only spent one evening in St. Louis, we planned to spend the following morning briefing exploring  the large Bellefontaine and Calvary Cemeteries in town. These are adjacent to one another: Calvary is for the Catholics and Bellefontaine is for protestants.

Both are beautiful, well-maintained parks with modest and tasteful monuments. There were a few Victorian era urns draped with cloth (all in stone, of course) and one design we'd not seen before: the stone rendition of a basket of flowers that had been knocked over. A nice variation on the way death is represented in the stone markers.

In Bellefontaine we saw a several wild turkeys wandering about and there were in general birds galore. During our visit to the two cemeteries, we saw three red-headed wood peckers posing for us on top of the monument. This sighting triples the number of these animals we've seen in the wild. Very nice.

Of course, one of the other reasons to visit a cemetery is to visit the resting places of famous people. In Calvary there were two graves in particular that struck us as interesting.

This first is the grave of William Tecumseh Sherman. It seems that in spite of the general views of Native Americans at the time of his birth (1820), he was indeed named after the chief of thShawnee Nation. I find it very odd that a people who are so filled with fear and hatred of the aboriginal Americans would name their children after them, name towns, and even states in their language. Curious.

In another part of the cemetery we find Dred Scott.

Here, in the cemetery lies the remains of a freed slave who was the subject of a very famous Supreme Court case. Cemeteries, like politics, make strange bedfellows.

Riding through the green, manicured hills of these two cities of the dead, one could sense the history and families brought together in these many markers, mausoleums, and colombariums. Beautiful, silent, and peaceful. A great way to examine our past, learn about who we are, while enjoying the outdoors.