When I was still probably in my teens and living on Long Island with my parents we went shopping in the Commack shopping center one day and I saw a nice little picnic area in the middle of a parking lot. I went to have a closer looker and lo and behold, this was no picnic area. It was a gravesite. With gravestones that looked really, really old. I remember thinking that this had to be fake. What were 100+ year old gravestones doing in the middle of a shopping center parking lot?
Well the other day I was on boingboing (http://www.boingboing.net/) and I came across a link to a website all about gravesites in parking lots including a story about the one I had seen in Long Island. Apparently this is not an uncommon phenomenon. People build nice, big family farms and bury their loved ones on it and then hundreds of years later developers swallow up the land and the gravesites are the only remaining sign of the family's having been there.
This particular grave site is actually called Burr cemetery because it is the members of the Burr family that are buried on it. (Although it's really hard to read this off the gravestone itself.) The cemetery was used until 1878 and then during WWI the land was used by the army as an airfield for training pilots (called Brindley Field then). It wasn't until the 1950's when it was turned into a shopping center.
It's really sad to see the gravesite in person. Sad because it seems so disrespectful to the family of the dead and sad to the memory of the buried. It's also sad to think about parking lots swallowing up landscape and shopping malls replacing farmland.
Of course I know there's two sides to this. I'm sure it can be argued that graves are a waste of precious living space. That those sentimental developers should have just bulldozed those silly little headstones.
Also, I find it kind of funny to think about how the planners had to build around the gravesite. "All right Mickey... this should be a straightfoward job, no different from our last one. Just one little problem though...."
Anyway I feel some personal gratification in uncovering the mystery of the Home Depot gravesite. (YAY internet!) For those of you readers in Tennessee take heart. You've got one of your own in Memphis sitting next to a Piggly-Wiggly. (whatever that is.)
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