Grandma Mellie's Scrapbook
Copyright © 2003, Michael S. Cole, M.D.

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    We have had much turbulent weather in this area, with storms all around us. Now July is here and we hope our weather will improve.
    The year of 1974 is half gone. Time seems to pass so swiftly. I remember when we were young it seemed a week would never pass ... now the weeks fly by like days.
    I am still on the subject of cemeteries. I remember the little family ones. I suppose large cemeteries were not established in those days. Most families had their own family plot on their own land.
    A small grave is on my son's farm. The ancestors of this person are all gone now and no one visits the grave. Years ago, there was a picket fence around it.
    On a lonely hillside near my home, I came upon a grave, or I supposed it to be one, as it had a large sandstone at the head and foot. No one seemed to know how it came to be there.
    In our local cemetery there is the grave of an Indian child with a large sandstone at the head. On it are Indian markings: a tree, a cross, and other symbols. Each year we visit the small mound and place flowers on it, for no one else ever comes by.
    I've often wondered where the Indians buried their dead. At one time there were Indians in our community for one can find many arrowheads and arrow chips. Sometimes one can find rocks which still bear traces of being used by the Indians to grind corn.
    On my great-grandfather's old place there are two graves. One is a mother, the other her son. My mother told me the man who had given the land for the community cemetery refused to let them be buried there, for what reason nobody knows, so her grandfather let the family bury them on his farm. My mother set two cedar trees there, one for each. I have often visited the place. It was rumored that some grave diggers came and opened the graves as a gold watch was buried with the son. My cousin and I saw a large hole in one grave, but supposed an animal dug it.
    Now on to lighter things, as I don't want to be too depressing even though we all realize that life is short and all must die.
    Some folks are still superstitious about graveyards and some really amusing things have taken place because of it. I knew a young man who was riding his horse past a cemetery one night and the horse suddenly became very frightened. I guess the young man did, too, for he lost his hat and didn't even stop to look for it. (This was in the days when men always wore hats in public.) The next day he came back and found it hanging on a tree limb.
    One April Fool day, two of my sons were helping a neighbor dig a cellar. They had just about finished and thought they would have some fun. They went to the woods and found some horse bones and put them in the cellar. Then they called the woman of the house and showed them to her. She threw up her hands and said, "Boys, you have dug into a grave! I'll never enter that cellar. Just cover it up!" The boys said, "April Fool!" She laughed with them, though I doubt if she enjoyed the joke as much as the boys did.
    In bygone days, some folks believed in "death warnings." For instance, if a bird came into a house, it was a sure warning of death. I've heard my mother tell about an experience she had. She and my father were awakened one night by something heavy falling on the house. The next morning they were told a baby had died at the exact time they heard the thing fall. Coincidence or not, those happenings are still remembered and related to others.
    Way back then, many believed in good or bad luck. I remember my grandma would never let us carry an axe through the house as something awful would happen. Although I am not superstitious, those things made an impression on my young mind and I often think of them.
    In some ways, those were good days. No one was ever in a hurry and people had time to visit the sick and help in other ways. Progress was slow, but they made our living better by establishing churches and schools.
    And now may your summer be pleasant and happy with peace for everyone.

Mellie Smith
July 1974

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