I once heard said that one thing that distinguishes Southerners is they know where their grandparents are buried. That hurt. I barely claim Southerness, but there are a few things every man should know, this is one and I don't.
I know where my parents are buried. I know where my paternal grandfather is, but hadn't a clue where my other 3 grandparents were. I became a man on a mission.
Beginning with the obvious, I went to visit Grandpa, hoping for clues. My parents didn't talk of their parents. Their mothers died much too early, their fathers sad, old men before their time, working too hard, for too little.
My paternal grandfather is buried in a cemetery which was formerly a family farm owned by Henry Clay. After a 1848 cholera epidemic, church yards in the city were closed, and new cemeteries were built taking advantage of the then new, garden plan, outside city limits. Today, it's a neighborhood few would linger, but I did, and am glad of it.
Although I hadn't been there in 40 years, I found Grandpa pretty quickly. Unsurprisingly, his wife and parents are there too. While I always think of myself as the oldest sibling, my parents had a son before me who died soon after birth. He too is buried there. We have the exact name. Looking at your name on a tombstone is eerie at my age. Little Toad is buried next to my great grandmother.
On great grandmother's other side is lies my first wife's, the mother of my children's, great grandmother. A coincidence more likely found in a small village than in a once thriving metropolis. Are marriages made in heaven?
Nearby, lie my kids maternal great grandparents as well.
That part was easy so I took a stroll to see who else lived in the neighborhood.
A few steps away is birthday boy, Tennessee Williams, who is celebrating his 100th today.
and his mother, sister Rose and brother Dakin. Dakin was a neighbor in our old 'hood before we moved.
I much prefer his brother. TCM has broadcast several movies made from his work this week. Is anything creepier than Baby Doll?
Dear to any Southerner's heart, a short walk up the road leads to the final resting place of General William T. Sherman, scourge of Georgia, along with his wife and children.
Keep walking and you run into Charles and Ray Eames. I had forgotten they were local kids.
Male that I am, what may surprise many, is that while there I did ASK the concierge about my maternal grandparents. Turns out they too are here and doing well, although they don't get out much. Proof positive I know where my grandparents and half of my great grandparents are buried. Can one become Southern? I passed the test.