Thursday, April 9

Thursday Drive: Rambles in an old cemetery

According to the Association of Graveyard Rabbits (named for the 1890 poem by Frank Lebby Stanton), a person who enjoys roaming old cemeteries and researching its occupants is a "rabbit".

That would be moi.

Membership in GY Rabbit requires having a blog devoted entirely to cemeteries, burial practices, etc, so I've chosen not to join.

I like to write about things other than the Dearly Departed - really! - so about a year ago I became a member of a writers' community called Hubpages, and that's where I prefer to publish my "rabbit ramblings".

One of my favorite places to ramble is Rochester Cemetery at the north edge of Topeka KS.

Rochester is a treasure trove of interesting tombstones and stories waiting to be told, and really is More Than Just the Ghost of Albino Woman, its most famous occupant said to be wandering the cemetery as well as the surrounding neighborhood looking for her baby.

It must get quite B-O-R-I-N-G just lying in one spot for all eternity. How can we be certain a cemetery isn't A Ghostly Playground when we aren't around? How do we know that tombstones near the graves of children aren't tilted or moved off center by playful spirits with nothing else to do?

While researching a couple named Clyde and Nellie HAMLIN, I discovered the connection between Rochester Cemetery and Carnival of Souls, a cult horror flick set in an abandoned amusement park and produced by an indie film company called Centron. Centron's normal fare was its award-winning educational and industrial training films. It was also nominated for (but didn't win) an Oscar in the Documentary (Short Subjects) category for the 13-minute "Leo Beuerman", about a handicapped resident of Lawrence KS who supported himself by selling pencils in front of downtown stores.

Amazing what one can learn from poking around in cemeteries...

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