Stories in Stone 2

The fallen rhododendron leaves lie thick underfoot, and the Spanish moss dulls birdsong and conversation.  Some find the silence of the old Florida cemetery peaceful.  Some find the silence unsettling.

Here lies James Bruton, who joined the Home Guard at the age of 14.  He had a freckles and a grin too wide for his face.   Though the Home Guard was never meant to see action, James Bruton set off for war before he'd had his first shave.  He left whistling "Dixie."   Despite his mother's worst fears, he came home again, with something like whiskers and still whistling-- through a gap in his smile, where the butt of a Yankee rifle had knocked out his two front teeth.

He lived into his eighties.  "War is better than anything," he would say.  "Better than catfish."

This is the final resting place of Dr A H Mathers.  He lived at peace with every man and child, and never so much as threw a stone at a stray dog.   But Dr Mathers had one odd habit: folks kept catching him carrying a shovel in odd places at odd times.  Once the Reverend caught Dr Mathers leaving the church at midnight on the Fourth of July, shovel in hand.  Another time the doctor crashed through his son's birthday party, waving his shovel in the air.  No one ever found out why he carried that shovel.

His last words were:  "I buried it under the porch."

Whatever "it" was, no one understands this, as Dr Mathers' house had no porch. Most people think the good doctor's mind was wandering.  But over the years, nearly every porch in town has been dug up, just in case--

"Those whom God loves die young."

Annie Barr was just 19 when the stonemason fell madly in love with her.  She was already dead at the time, so it was a very one-sided love affair.  Her parents hired the mason to carve a small headstone, which was all they could afford.  Instead, the stonemason delivered this massive angel with Annie's face.  Annie's parents were too shocked to thank him, and the stonemason left town soon afterwards.  Later, the stonemason became famous-- but he would only carve angels, and all the angels had Annie's face.

John W Price's relatives eventually gave up repairing his tombstone.  No matter how many times the stone was fitted back in its slot, the next day it was always out again: laid neatly on its back across his grave.  The problem has continued through the decades.   No one is sure whether this is the work of a very persistent (and now elderly) vandal, or if Mr Price has some objection to his headstone.

This is a sequel to "Stories in Stone."  Disclaimer: Any resemblance to anyone living or dead, friend or relation isn’t entirely coincidental, but nearly so-- meaning that while these are the graves of real people, the stories about them are fictitious.