>Stumbling through the cemeteryPosted: July 23, 2007
>My husband Fred and I had finally found the historic Alder Grove cemetery on our third foray up Highway 34. Finally armed with directions from the Waldport Heritage Museum, we only had to u-turn three more times before we turned right on the correct road. It had a subtle sign that said “Aldergrove Cem. Rd.” Duh. Sure enough, about a mile west, gravestones rose out of the knee-high weeds, elderberries, and buttercups.
The instant we stopped the car, it began to rain. It had drizzled off and on all day, but this was serious Oregon rain, and it showed no intention of stopping. Yes, even in July. We raised our hoods and set forth. The cemetery wasn’t well kept. The weeds were out of control, and the fake flowers were faded, but we enjoyed reading the gravestones, some as old as the late 1800s. My favorite, the resting place of a Mr. Kramer, said: Kramer’s Landing. Probably a fisherman.
We visited family groups fenced together, babies, dead soldiers, beloved mothers and fathers, sons and daughters.
It was a great find, so intriguing we didn’t even notice when the rain stopped.
So what does this have to do with freelancing for newspapers? First, I should always have my camera with me. The trip was unplanned. After lunch at the crowded Fish Tails restaurant in Aquarium Village, my husband said, let’s go find those cemeteries. I’ll probably never get out there again, and I had no camera. Second, there are stories in these places. Who were these people? Why are they buried way out here beyond the quarry? Do people still get buried there? Does anyone take care of this place? Who, why and how? There were little signs on some of the graves from the mortuary back in town. Is a project going on that ought to be written about?
We often visit old cemeteries. You can read whole life stories in the few words on a gravestone. Plus, walking among the dead gives a person perspective. And, sometimes, wet feet.
Freelance writers are never off duty. Stories await you everywhere. Be prepared.