Thirty-four

Wild Turkey AM Honey

3 Bean Local Beef Chili, Fries

I ducked into the Penny while I was in town paying my water bill. I had a quick shot of Wild Turkey Honey and found it, as you might imagine, disgustingly sweet. I used to drink WT as my house bourbon before I switched to Dickel. I haven’t had the regular version (either the 80 or 101 proof) in years, but I imagine it’s still pretty good. Hunter Thompson was a famous drinker of Wild Turkey and mentions it in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I once was at a small lecture in Montana where Thompson was scheduled to speak. About thirty of us sat in a small, overheated classroom at the University and waited on him for an hour after he was supposed to start. He finally wandered in, smacked down a bottle of Wild Turkey on the teacher’s desk, sat down and said something on the order of how he didn’t understand why anyone would come to hear him speak and in particular why anyone would wait an hour to hear him speak. I wondered that myself, stood up and walked out.

This entry is a bit rambling. I find it harder to concentrate these days. I don’t sleep much as Ada’s weeping reaches me wherever I am in the house, even upstairs in bed. It feels now like it comes directly into my brain. I don’t “hear” it; it’s just there. If you don’t know who Ada is you need to go way back to the front of this blog and start there. And the band that I sometimes hear at night, it seems like it’s always there in the background as well. I see Sherry giving me odd looks, like she knows something’s going on, but she hasn’t figured out enough of it to ask the right questions. She doesn’t hear Ada or the band. She’s going away soon on a trip to Washington soon; that’s when I have to act. This can’t go on. Rafe’s not here, so I’m going to do it myself.

Since I decided on my current plan, I thought I would probably end up in the slave cemetery fairly near my house, the Margaret Lane cemetery. The Old Town Cemetery, described two entries ago, was for rich people, certainly for white people only; I know my Ada, the annoying, frightening, sometimes diabolical spirit that lives beneath my house would not be happy there. And the New Town Cemetery, described in the last entry, even though parts of it date from the 1870’s is, well, to my eyes, too new. And so we move on to the Margaret Lane Cemetery. Here’s an old slave song that I find haunting.

I wonder where my mudder gone;

Sing, O graveyard!

Graveyard ought to know me;

Ring, Jerusalem!

Grass grow in de Graveyard;

Sing, O Graveyard!

By the mid 1700s there were laws stating that slave owners had to have some sort of graveyard where deceased slaves could be buried. Usually this was a piece of unwanted land. These slave graveyards were kept up by the slaves themselves, in what little “free” time their masters allowed, though none of them was ever as elaborate as the white graveyards. Slave cemeteries were not particularly orderly, and it wasn’t important to keep family members in plots that were separated from others. Markers, when there were any, were often painted on boards or were simply indicated by offerings left on the surface of the graves.

From an article I found…

“Probably the most commonly known African-American grave marking practice was the use of “offerings” on top of the grave. One of the most detailed discussions of this practice is provided by John Michael Vlach, in The Afro-American Tradition in Decorative Arts. He notes that the objects found on graves included not only pottery, but also “cups, saucers, bowls, clocks, salt and pepper shakers, medicine bottles, spoons, pitchers, oyster shells, conch shells, white pebbles, toys, dolls’ heads, bric-a-brac statues, light bulbs, tureens, flashlights, soap dishes, false teeth, syrup jugs, spectacles, cigar boxes, piggy banks, gun locks, razors, knives, tomato cans, flower pots, marbles, bits of plaster, [and] toilet tanks.”

As noted above, families were not necessarily buried together like they were in white cemeteries…

“Although generations of related kin would be buried at the same graveyard, the tie was to the location, not to a particular 3 by 6 foot piece of ground. The Bennett Papers, in the South Carolina Historical Society, reveal several stories of African-Americans wanting to be buried in very specific graveyards, although specific plots are never of concern. In one case a black was reported to have specifically warned his friends, “don’t bury me in strange ground; I won’t stay buried if you do. Bury me where I say.”A somewhat similar account is provided in an article from the Journal of American Folklore. An article recounts the legend of a slave who begged not to be buried in the graveyard of his mean-spirited master. When his dying request was ignored, he found retribution by haunting the plantation.

I have supplied the above italics.

All of this is reflected in what Rafe told me some months ago when explaining Ada, my under-the-house spirit. That she was not given a proper burial when she suffered her unknown, unfair, untimely death, that somehow she ended up under my house and that he, Rafe, was digging up her bones and would, I assumed, bury her somewhere permanent and respectful. Well, where the hell has Rafe gone?

Here’s more of my research…

“Cynthia Conner, an archaeologist who studied South Carolina low country plantation cemeteries, remarked that the very ideology of black and white graveyards is fundamentally different. In white cemeteries, the idealization of death is paramount. The romanticization of the landscape is intended to create heaven on earth in the cemetery grounds and deny the blunt reality of death. This is initially accomplished through placement [of the white cemetery] in a favorable location. The setting is further enhanced through the simultaneous control of unrestrained natural growth and the use of a few select trees such as live oaks to create a park-like atmosphere.  The black cemetery, on the other hand, is not directed toward a park-like environment, or, I believe, the denial of death.

African-American cemeteries have grave depressions and mounded graves. There is no attempt to make grass grow over the graves or create special vegetation. Trees, typically, are neither encouraged nor discouraged. Cemeteries, as previously mentioned, appear “neglected” or even “abandoned” in contrast to the neat, tidy rows of a white cemetery.”

So I went to the remains of the slave cemetery near my house. I will report on this next week. Meanwhile, my latest Amazon purchase:

NACATIN Portable Folding Shovels, Tactical Military Collapsible Camping Shovel with Nylon Carrying Pouch and High Carbon Steel Handle

  • LIGHTWEIGH AND FOLDABLE: The tri-fold shovel weighs only 1.33 pound which is ultra light for you to carry. (Easy to hide in a backpack.)
  • MULTIFUNCTIONAL TOOL: It can works as shovel, pickaxe, saw, hoe, etc. Our folding shovel is a helper for your car, garden and outdoor activities. (I have a different outdoor activity in mind for the shovel.)
  • HIGH QUALITY AND COMFORTABLE: The camping shovel is sturdy and labor-saving with triangle handle, high strength carbon steel sharp blade and non-slip grip. The triangular handle is strong and fits comfortably in either hand.
  • EASY STORAGE: It comes with a nylon carrying case. (Like I said, easy to stash in my backpack so it doesn’t look suspicious.)
  • WIDELY USED: Designed for exploring, camping, traveling, hiking, gardens. It is also great for keeping in your vehicle in case of getting stuck in snow/mud. (Also, great for digging graves in the middle of the night.)

 

 

6 thoughts on “Thirty-four

  1. A band too? I don’t remember reading about you hearing a band……..geeeez I’ll have to go all the way back to check now. That’s a great story about you walking out on Hunter Thompson! You might want to buy one of those head lamps and put it on a hard hat so as to leave your hands free for the digging and taking sips of Dickel for sustenance

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  2. I mention the band a couple of times, recently when I was out at night and Rafe showed up for a few minutes. I believe I also showed a period advertisement for this band that I got out of the old Hillsborough Record I’ve been reading. Head lamp; good idea.

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  3. I don’t see in specifications of your purchase anything about digging up bones in a cramped crawl space by an elderly gentleman.

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