Stories in Stone

Once upon a time there was a small town in the backwoods of Florida. This town is so small that if you turn right or left off of Main Street, you find yourself bumping along dirt roads. There's a farmer's market, a couple of art galleries, and a Mom-and-Pop's grocery. Not much else. About a quarter of a mile from town is the old cemetery. Old cemeteries are like old libraries: full of dusty, half-forgotten stories.

"Mother" Mary E. Herbert lived through the Civil War. I wonder if she lost any sons in the battlefields of Gettysburg or Bull Run. At the end, she was remembered as "Mother." Not wife, daughter, or sister. Mother.

C.P. Huffman.  Here's a tale.  A Union Army veteran who came South and never left again.  Maybe he fell in love with a Florida girl.  Maybe he loved the sunshine and orange trees and never wanted to pass another dark Northern winter.  He was buried here, "At Rest" behind old enemy lines.

This family protected their burial plots with a fence delicate as lace, strong as iron.  Someone still cares enough to leave the fence, but not enough to restore it.  Is there any iron left under the rust?

Inside the fence is the grave of Benjamin K, just sixteen when he died.  I wonder if he had a sweetheart.  I wonder if he was a wild, spoiled rich boy, notorious for flirting with the girls, but secretly loving only one.   His heartsore parents bought him a handsome stone...

...with a cupola on top.  Eventually the cupola toppled over, too heavy for its skinny columns.  Poor Benjamin.  I suppose there's no one left with the money or the concern to put his cupola back.

Old Mr. Crom.  When he was born, women wore bustles, gloves, and bonnets.  When he died, women had discovered the miniskirt, free love, and LSD.  After Queen Victoria, two World Wars, a Cold War, and Woodstock, all Mr. Crom wanted was a nice quiet game of golf.  I hope he got it.


Here lies Dr. McRae, who wore grey and saluted the Rebel flag.  Now a tiny Union flag pokes out of the soil over his grave.  He doesn't mind it.  Perhaps he was a doctor during the war.  Perhaps he sat up at all hours of the night pulling bullets from wounded men-- the Grey and the Blue.  He closed the eyes of the dead and soothed the fevered dreams of the living.

Long after the war, as an old man dozing in the sun, he still imagined he heard the thunder of cannons, and smelled the burning reek of gunpowder.

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to anyone living or dead, friend or relation isn't entirely coincidental, but nearly so.