Saturday, March 04, 2006

Embrace Your Weird Inner Self

I have an odd way of having fun. I've decided to stop apologizing for it. So what if everybody thinks I'm loony?

This morning I took off for a day of cemetery hopping. There were several requests open in the FindAGrave website for photos of graves that were within reasonable driving distance of Bastrop. I decided to make a big loop through Bastrop, Lee, Fayette and Gonzales counties and perform a few random acts of genealogical kindness.

I started off at the Giddings Public Library, getting the locations for the photos to be taken at the Giddings City Cemetery. I dearly love small town libraries. You never know what you're going to find there. Today I was the first patron through the doors when they opened and was fortunate to find a friendly, helpful librarian. She got me set up with the cemetery indexes and I spent a very nice hour gathering the burial information I needed and sifting through a two-volume Lee County history.

The next hour was spent walking the Giddings City Cemetery. I not only picked up the photos requested, I finally got a couple of family grave photos that I had never had a chance to get before now. With that errand complete, I headed down Highway 77 to LaGrange.

Some of the prettiest country I know is in Fayette County. The rolling green pastures are filled with the most picturesque cattle and farm buildings and everyone down there appears to take great pride in their fences. It is just picture perfect country scenery. The weather was perfect, so I opened the sun roof to get the fresh air, put on my Big & Rich cd and thoroughly enjoyed my drive.

Next stop was Weikel's Bakery in LaGrange. Mother loves their kolaches and I can't resist their cinnamon rolls. A trip anywhere close to LaGrange calls for a detour to Weikel's.

With the scent of cinnamon rolls rising up from the back seat, I headed down 609 to the Cedar Cemetery for another photo request. I was pleasantly surprised to find a cemetery bulletin board with a plat of the burials, so I fulfilled that request quickly and headed on down 609 toward Waelder. More green rolling hills and more photogenic cattle. One big white cow was curled up on the ground asleep, looking as cute as a certain little dog I know. That's some accomplishment for a white cow with horns.

At Waelder, I drove right up to a cemetery with the sign "Waelder City Cemetery". I had never been to Waelder before, so I had no reason to doubt that this was the City Cemetery. As I walked through, looking for the requested grave, I became more and more appalled. The cemetery is in horrendous condition. Where burials had taken place, mounds of dirt had been pushed up and left behind. Graves were sunken in. Headstones were buried in accumulated dirt. Weeds were kneehigh in places. I failed to find the name I was looking for and left, mentally composing a letter to somebody to register my disgust with the City of Waelder's cemetery maintenance.

I decided to take a back road back to Bastrop and imagine my surprise to suddenly come up on three adjoining cemeteries, labeled respectively as "Waelder Cemetery", "Community Cemetery", and "Hopkinsville Masonic Cemetery". These cemeteries were in pristine condition. I quickly deduced that the "Community Cemetery" was the Spanish community's cemetery, and the other two were basically the white community's cemetery. Further deducing led me to conclude that the first, badly maintained, cemetery I had encountered was the black community's burial grounds. I'm still appalled at its condition and I think the City should be ashamed of themselves for displaying such a disparate level of care for its dead.

I ended up my tour with a drive up Highway 304, through Jeddo, String Prairie and Hills Prairie. Other than a bad case of sore feet from too much tramping on uneven ground, I had a marvelous time.

I may have odd ideas of fun, but I think I come by it honestly. I can remember many a time listening to my grandparents Hodge talking about their trips driving around the country and checking out cemeteries. I've picked up the torch and I intend to keep at it.

You do your thing. I'll do mine.


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