Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

January 8, 2012

Cemeteries in the New Year

Filed under: At home,Cemeteries,Travel — Janice @ 9:54 pm

Last weekend I met Mark in Houston and we spent a fun day on the island of Galveston eating seafood and driving around looking at old neighborhoods and going to an Army surplus store and other cool stores on the Strand. It was a beautiful way to start the New Year (this was just before New Year’s Eve). I did have him drive me through an old cemetery in Galveston, but I did not get out and look since time was short and I didn’t have any relatives there.

But we did go on to Baytown, the home town of Mark’s mother. Mark took me to the Hill of Rest Cemetery to see the graves of his great-grandparents Joseph and Lillian Russell. Mark remembered his great-grandfather being very quiet and looking like Harry Truman and remembers his tiny little great-grandmother cooking the best gumbo in the world. He has very fond memories of her especially. He didn’t think he had been to the cemetery since Joseph Russell’s funeral in 1978, but he found the grave very quickly. I was glad he did because as I was walking the cemetery, looking for the grave, mosquitos the size of small birds were trying to pick me up and take me with them. This Hill of Rest was right by the bay of Baytown and the mosquitos had found their paradise. I have found out since we’ve come home and Mark’s uncle is also buried in this cemetery, a man who was killed in the terrible Texas City explosion that killed so many and was such a tragedy. I would have liked to have given him his respect, too.

I also found time on that quick trip for a living relative. I had met my cousin Sandra through the internet and she and my dad would have been second cousins, though they never knew one another. Her grandmother and Dad’s grandfather were brother and sister, but it was a huge family with 10 sisters and it did not stay very close. She and I have become email friends and friends on Facebook, but we had not met face-to-face. She and her husband travel and live in an RV and make Columbus, Texas, their winter home near the Colorado River. I knew I would be coming through there on my trip home, so I called and dropped by. My mother says I get this from my father, who was willing to call and drop in on just about anyone as he never lacked for friends and relations that he enjoyed visiting. Truly, I am more like my mother and do NOT like to visit people or make plans, but occasionally I do make these exceptions. I was very glad I did on this trip because Sandra and her husband Roger were beautiful, gracious people with a lovely home and two sweet dogs and it was great to meet them. I have always had an image of this part of my family not being the classiest bunch of people, but I am learning through her and another cousin that they truly were nice people with a  lot of grace and class.

This weekend we played host to my sister and her husband from Dallas. It was really great fun and we all felt like we were grown-ups because it was the first time in 20+ years that we had had a dinner with just the four of us and no nephews. Of course, I’ve loved every meal I’ve ever had with the nephews, but it was fun to have just the four of us together once again. Today we all ate at Cisco’s and had maybe the best migas and biscuits I have ever had there, and that is one place that ALWAYS has great migas and biscuits.

After they had left and headed back home, we drove around and stopped at a store of a friend. As luck would have it, we passed another cemetery. I had never seen the “A.S.H. Cemetery” and it took a while before Mark saw another sign and let me know that was the Austin State Hospital cemetery. I had heard about it before, but had no idea where it was. I had assumed it was closer to the grounds of the actual hospital, but it is further east. Tonight I read that it was originally on the grounds, but they moved it to the “edge of town” because the sight of it upset some of the patients. It is an interesting cemetery in that there are so many unmarked graves and so many barely marked graves. It is huge, over 3000 graves, but only a few headstones stand up and are visible from the street. We did not go exploring this cemetery today, I believe it is locked, but maybe I will one of these days.

Oh, and good news. After I wrote about not having a bedside, handwritten diary for the year, Mark found me several he thought might be suitable on the Internet. I liked one myself and ordered it and have it in use now. I am such a creature of my bedtime routine I was suffering from anxiety at not having that moment to write in my diary each night, but that has been solved and satisfied.

1 Comment »

  1. Glad you have your 2012 diary as your stories must be recorded. I have my usual Texaco diary (now Shell)with matches from 1981, but here it is the 12th and the pages are blank.

    Comment by pat — January 12, 2012 @ 3:13 pm

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