My story, Katie Likes Flowers, was recently published on the Cemetery Travel: Adventures in Graveyards Around the World website, as part of the Death’s Garden project by Loren Rhoads. Check out the story and take the time to read the other posts on the website, which features stories about cemeteries, graveyards, and how death impacts life. It’s all really amazing.
And thank you, Loren!
This short piece about an experience I had in a nearby abandoned cemetery was originally published in Weird Hauntings (Sterling, 2006).
Many abandoned bits of civilization are found in the woods in the part of New Jersey where I live: Towns that simply disappeared off the map for one reason or another. Their remnants include foundations of buildings, mineshafts and cemeteries—and the closest I’ve ever come to a haunting was in one of these forgotten cemeteries. Continue reading
The Asbury Park Press recently published another story I wrote for the “Last Exit” special issue of Weird NJ: This one is about the original Leo the Lion, one of a number of roaring lions that MGM featured at the start of its films. This Leo in particular lived on a farm/animal sanctuary in Gillette, NJ, and is rumored to be buried at the foot of this pine tree.
Kinda looks like a roaring lion, right? Photo by me, 2009.
Here’s a closer view of the alleged burial site.
Leo the MGM Lion: Buried here? Photo by me, 2009.
A few years ago, I accidentally stumbled across a family headstone while looking for interesting graves to write about. The stumble became a story in larger project, and in my returns to the cemetery to visit the grave in question, which marks the burial site of a great-grandfather and his two wives, I eventually got around to walking behind it.
These are five of I’m not sure how many children that were born to my great-grandfather and his first wife – they are my half-granduncles and grandaunts. Four of the five died before their mother did (in 1910). I can’t imagine what it must have been like to lose so many children, so young: babies not yet walking, little boys just learning how to help out around the farm, and young men and women, full of promise and ready to start their own lives.
I’ve seen these names on various old census records, but census records have the habit of just dropping people off. You know what happened, but not HOW. I’m also not sure if they are actually buried in the family plot – this headstone came along probably after their mother died, if not my great-grandfather, so it might just be a memorial marker for them, listing them alphabetically when they didn’t die in such an orderly way in real life. Checking church records is for another day…and I kind of like the mystery.