This great selection if from Michael Hammes’ piece, “On the Merits of Extremely Long Term Planning.” You’ll want to read the rest. And, of course, you can . Enjoy.
Ultimately, the decision was understood as a moral one – what’s the right thing to do? Our city, just shy of 40 years old at that point, accepted ownership and control of a 190-year-old historic cemetery.
The task fell to me to manage the site.
The cemetery maps were dated 1967. The master books, with a page for every set of 8 graves, had handwritten notations from both recent caretakers and caretakers long dead, side by side. Hand-drawn outlines of headstones lacked precision, to say the least. The master burial record consisted of three old ledgers, each leather-bound and handwritten, and an ancient index-card file.
The cemetery itself is a beautiful site -– if you ignore the fact that the headstones aren’t in rows as such, or that the graves are just long enough for the deceased.
The cemetery presented us with other challenges. We’d never had to even think about how to manage such a property. It’s just not something our city had done before. So when our first call came in, three months after taking over, I will admit to some trepidation.