Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I ♥ Sacramento {Old City Cemetery}

My dad was one of those Sunday driver kind of guys.We would hop into the car, go through the drive thru for a burger and take to the road. When living in Missouri we would drive through countryside, the city, and everything in between. In Hawaii we would drive around the island as best we could (you can't drive fully around the island) and back again. My dad always took the long way, everywhere.  

We moved quite a bit when I was young, and travelled a fair amount - by car, of course. When we moved from California to Missouri we drove across country. I believe it was one of my Dad's biggest regrets that we had to do the trip as a straight shot in two days. No meandering, no stopping at roadside oddities, no dragging out the adventure to ten times longer than it needed to be. I think it always bothered him that he had to bypass everything he loved about road trips and just get there.

I always wondered why he was so into the Sunday drive, but now I know exactly why. The practical reason is that a long Sunday drive in the 80s and 90s was cheap (gas didn't cost you your first born then). But the main reason he loved driving was that it was his ticket to unfamiliar places. On the Sunday drive he could daydream. I remember him driving to adjacent towns and cities, looking for nice neighborhoods and picking out houses and yards he and my mother loved. They would comment on the flower beds and paint colors, tree placement and what they would do it if was their house. He loved Victorian architecture  and talk to my mom about how cool it would be to fix up a giant Victorian for all of us to live in. She would nod and agree, but I'm pretty sure she thought he was nuts.

Sometimes we would get irritated about being stuck in the car for hours on end, with no destination in sight, but deep down we all liked the adventure, too. We would encounter little roadside stands, historical markers detailing who slept, ate, was born, died or pooped right here, open houses for houses we could never afford, the occasional family graveyard in more rural areas. All which must be explored before moving on.

Because of this, I now have an unnatural, knee-jerk reaction to pull over to read every historical marker I see, buy things from roadside stands and explore every graveyard I drive by. I married a far more practical man than my mother did (probably a good thing since there really isn't room for two of us in this relationship). The Sunday drive is an epic waste of time and money in his eyes and no thank you, let's not tour the wacky roadside whatever, because it will add two hours to the trip.

For years I have driven by the Old City Cemetery, and for years I have told myself Next time I am definitely stopping, although I never did seem to stop "next time". It reminded me of endless driving adventures with my family growing up, but I was always too busy to indulge my curiosity.  A few months ago we were driving by with nowhere to be so I demanded that my husband stop so we all could get out and wander a bit. He did, and while I don't think he really gets why I feel compelled to explore every strange place I see, he enjoys seeing me happy and can tell that his kids have inherited my sense of adventure.

Being in the Old City Cemetery with my kids, reading headstones, marvelling on how young the mothers and father were when they died, feeling a sense of empty loss at all the miniature graves marking babies and children, brought me right back to the Sunday drive days. One of my favourite stops in Missouri was an old Civil War era family graveyard that was tucked to the side of the road. I remember feeling thankful to be alive in this time and not a time when 50 was elderly and babies rarely made it out of their first year. I remember how my dad loved reading the headstones and exploring the graveyard and seeing us realise how lucky we were.

Old City Cemetery isn't sombre or depressing, it's a window into a world we aren't familiar with anymore. A world where families would tend to their loved ones even after death, where the graveyard was a park to quitely wander and remember your loved ones. The Old City Cemetery Committee runs tours and provides maps, information for which is on their website.

Old City Cemetery - Broadway and 10th Street
 Summer hours 7 am-7 pm; closed Wednesdays and Thursdays


  1. your photos are lovely. I am a fellow creepy cemetery creeper as well. If you like, check out my post on our visit last fall.
    Thanks and I enjoy all of your pics, not just the creepy ones!(:

  2. I've always wanted to do one of their tours.

  3. Love this post! You have me inspired to stop by...but I'll probably wait until the weather cools off. :) Have you ever stopped by the cemetery in East Sac? I used to run through that one. It's very pretty and peaceful.


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