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A town without a cemetery: That’s what I call creepy

The solar eclipse is coming. How prepared are you for this momentous occasion?  Me, here, in California will have to experience through reliving my past memories and by living vicariously through those in Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska and across to the east. When I was a kid, I experienced it in New York and it was a true delight and time of wonder. I am a bit sad I won’t experience it this year as it is occurring so close in time to my son’s birthday. It would have been so cool to have a solar eclipse on his 9th birthday as he starts the adolescence journey. Alas, California has smog. I suppose that darkens our skies. Bad joke. I’ll walk it back and stop my digression.

California can be quirky. I’m getting used to it although I will always be a New Yorker. And while Los Angeles is far from perfect, I do rather prefer it to San Francisco. While up in northern California, I was often cold, damp and dreary.  The coldest winter is a summer in San Francisco.  

One particularly quirky thing that made me wonder about San Francisco is it’s lack of cemeteries.  Back a century ago, San Francisco banned internment within the city limits and after World War II removed any existing remaining cemeteries. The dead went to the city of Colma, which is South of San Francisco and always shrouded in fog.  At night that town is fairly spooky and pretty cool as a result. 

I love cemeteries. Maybe I’m ghoulish that way. However, I’m enchanted, intrigued and maybe eerily comforted by them. People’s histories are marked. One’s existence is given a place to stand (or rather, lie).  When I’ve been to New Orleans in the past, I used to love going to their cemeteries. They are stunning.  They have stopped much of the graveyard tourism at this point.  But whenever I travel to a new city or country, I try to visit one cemetery and honor their dead. 

I don’t know if this travel habit of mine makes me odd but I will tell you I do wonder about a place that doesn’t have a place for the dead. I suppose because I often walked through my high school’s cemetery at night to go from one end of the campus to the other, I have become at ease with them. I could easily be like Buffy and hang out therein.  I would totally love to be a Vampire Hunter except for the whole blood sucking thing. I won’t go into the history of why San Francisco became tax-free, but suffice it to say it seemed to value land more for the living. It is a rather small city afterall. 

But I’m left wondering where do the ghosts, vampires and assorted night creatures go in San Francisco. I suppose they must be traveling creatures.

 Maybe they all come on down to Los Angeles. Here there is a grand sense of festivity for the day of the dead. Before we know it, October will be here again. 

14 replies »

  1. Really, San Francisco? No cemetery? With a foggy neighboring city heavily packed with ones? Now that’s poetic!

    By the way, I quite fancy the idea: Buffy – The Slaying Psychologist, in the undead city. 🙂

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  2. Well, I share such attraction, too. It teaches us many things about the place we visit. As a child in a German-Brazilian community, my grandparents paid their respect and love for the ones already departed. While they were busy cleaning and ornamenting the graves, I toured the cemetery and paid attention to the solemn faces staring at me from the marble as well as and to their star and cross numbers. Actually, it was a lesson both on arithmetic, aesthetics, and the briefness of life.

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  3. A town with out a graveyard “is!” creepy. How do you talk to the dead people? Do they all hang out on street corners, the local tavern? It the town that bad that nobody wants to be buried there? Love the thought!

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  4. Great post! I also love cemeteries. Where I live in Bellingham, WA I frequently walk the pathways of our large local cemetery. It has a beautiful view of the ocean and lots of shade trees. Hard to get any real walking done because I love reading the tributes and stories on all the plaques.

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  5. I had no idea that San Francisco had essentially boycotted graveyards within its city limits, though the reasoning you’ve noted for it seems pretty logical. I recall visiting Mission San Francisco which, I guess, still sports one of its namesake city’s few remaining cemeteries. That also makes it a doubly interesting site for SF citizens and tourists, as I was, alike.

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  6. I love cemeteries too – and by the comments so far, we’re not alone! I love the history, and finding unusual graves; I’ve come across quite a lot of those in Scotland (where I usually hang out with the dead when on holidays – fortunately, my husband likes that kind of thing, too!).

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