When you get my age and you want to visit your friends, chances are you will wind up going to the cemetery. We have three in this area and sometimes I will walk around and stop at different tombstones.
In Rose Hill in the old section there are two family plots. I go to my granddaddy's. When I was a boy I would follow my granddaddy and my brother Mickey and we would get a rake and yard broom to take with us. We would make the walk from our house to granddaddy's plat; in those days most of the plats were marked off. Granddaddy had someone pour a foundation and put a row of cement blocks around his plat. Granddaddy then hired someone to fill this area with white sand. It was our job to pull any weeds and carefully sweep the sand being careful to keep the grave slabs clean.
All of this has been removed so the city can cut the grass. You don't see all the walls, sand and grave shelters that were once around Rose Hill.
Granddaddy's plat has Mama, Daddy, two brothers and one sister in it and this is where I will be buried someday.
As I look around I see the grave of Mr. Bill who lived about three doors (houses) up from us and a lot of boys would sit on his front porch in the late evening and night and talk, tell stories and play games while Mr. Bill played dominoes with anyone who came along. I don't remember for sure but I've been told he was the first man buried in the new section of Rose Hill Cemetery.
Walking back to the old section I always try to go by the grave of Mrs. Hays; she was a schoolteacher and she wrote me long sweet letters of Tallassee while I was in Desert Storm. She never missed a week. One day I wrote and told her we were preparing to come home and I was looking forward to coming to see her and having some good long talks.
Jack Venable got in touch with me and told me she had died just days before I got home. I went with Jack to see her.
At the time Jack and his son were making a survey and record of all the graves in the old section of the graveyard. I think there is a copy in the library if anyone is interested. They finished this project in 1991.
I don't know if any records have been kept that are available to the public since then. That would be a good project for a boy or girl working on his or her Eagle Scout project.
As I headed back to my starting point I passed two headstones of young boys from my area of town and my period of growing up — one an outstanding young man, football player and a neighbor; he was killed in a motorcycle accident.
The other was a good man who never grew up. It was senior prom night in Tallassee and after the prom he and another young man started back from a party on Lake Martin. It was late and they were driving fast when their car topped the hill at Red Hill School house and they flipped it. Both young men were thrown out of the car and killed.
This was in the days before seat belts.
I tried to end this little trip but on other trips I visit and think of people as soon as I step into the cemetery.
At Carrville I always go by an old classmate’s grave. She was about the prettiest girl in school and had all the privileges a mama and daddy could afford, yet she died way to young. She was a friend of mine.
In Bethlehem East Cemetery is a man I grew up with; he was older than me and more or less took my brother’s place after my brother was killed in a car wreck. He gave me my first driving lessons, taught me different ways to fish, gave me advice while I was building my cabin, doffed with me in the cotton mill and was my neighbor for years.
You see, when you get my age and you want to talk over old times or visit old friends, just go to the graveyard.