A few months ago we moved to Medford, about fifteen miles north of Ashland. Naturally, I’ve been meaning to check out the cemeteries here but, being the procrastinator I am, I had not done so — until yesterday.
The silly thing is there’s a cemetery near here that I drive by nearly any time I’m out and about. I’m not talking about the Siskiyou Memorial Park* that I can easily see from the street (and which doesn’t interest me so much because, well, it’s a memorial park.) No, I’m talking about the Eastwood Cemetery.
One reason I hadn’t visited Eastwood has to do with the entrance. Driving by on the main road, this is the only clue there’s a cemetery nearby:
When I first saw this sign, I thought, “Oh great! A cemetery. And so close to home!” Then I looked down the drive towards the cemetery entrance:
Oddly, I judged from the sign and the entrance that there would not be much to this cemetery. But as I was biking yesterday, I decided to take a detour and check it out. I rode along the driveway towards the gate and saw this sign:
A short distance beyond that I’m pretty sure my jaw actually dropped in amazement. The place was HUGE! I rode through a portion and it just seemed to keep on going. I only had my point-and-shoot camera with me, so I took only a handful of pictures.
I guess there may be a lesson here about not judging a book by its cover, or about being wary of first impressions. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for the delight of discovering the unexpected. Needless to say, I’ll have to go back with my “big” camera and see what treasures I can find.
An interesting tidbit about this cemetery was in the local news recently. A couple who lives adjacent to the cemetery has been mowing and planting flowers in part of the grounds near their home. The city has ordered them to stop doing so, at least without permission. The stated reason is that, because the cemetery is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, it is required to keep its grounds “as close to its 19th-century character as possible.”
Maybe as I spend more time there, I’ll better see the two sides to the issue. Of course, as you can see, everything is so dry, it’s a wonder anything grows there!
* Memorial Parks are cemeteries where the grave markers are embedded in the lawn making it easier to mow and maintain. The idea of memorial parks came from a businessman who, I suspect, was motivated as much by cost-cutting as anything else. Apparently he also stated that traditional cemeteries were dark, depressing, and filled with reminders of death. Personally (if it weren’t obvious), I find cemeteries with headstones are much more interesting.
What do you think?