Monday, February 9, 2009
After my Ellis Hollow beaver-meadow lodge went up in smoke, I moved back to the old stone shelter in the East Hill Cemetery.
It was never more than a laid-up false face on a overhang in the little gorge there, and some of the stone had spilled in the years since I had last occupied it ,so I repaired and chinked it with turf. Not really much more spacious than a high class sarcophagus, it was tight and comfortable for my constitution, but it was nevertheless too small for me plus what little stuff I was packing around and had not lost in the fire - the prosthetic legs, sardines and hard cheese, underwear and socks, yellow birch sticks, the machete, not much else. So I stowed my paratroopers pack in one of the mausoleums, and covered it loosely with leaves which had blown in over time. I leaned my bike up against the behind of the caretakers building.
The Old East Hill Cemetery is on a rolling series of terraces descending from the Cornell Campus to engorged downtown Ithaca, with its own tiny gorge, and near dead silence, is as beautiful as anyplace in town or on campus. And around the time I am speaking of.....the early seventies.... it was not yet the busy dog run and Frisbie Golf course it's come to be.
But then, after I had been set up there no more than a week, somebody stole my bike.
So the cemetery began to seem lot less of a fine and private place.
And no more than a week later, the place was ruined some more, as far as my use goes.
What happened was, Davey wrote that story about the East Hill Kids Cemetery Club and it was published with a series of fresh photos in the now-deceased Ithaca weekly Grapevine.
The events in the story revealed that back in the fifties (as continued to be the case) several of the mausaleums were not securely locked, or only loosely chained.... so that we kids could easily squeeze in for our Spooky Games, dead man's finger bone initiation and all.
So, sure enough, you guessed it again......the day after the story was published, some semi-literate townie kids or Lettered campus ghouls slipped in and stole a skull and some bones out of one of the coffins.
I don't know exactly when they did it or how it was discovered, but the police showed up, and it made first page of the Ithaca Journal .
Davey was very amused..... never himself took serious shit for the events, and they never busted the ghouls, but that was that was the end of me living in the East Hill Cemetery. Where dog's and me used to run free, and now coyotes do.
At least no one had seemed to notice or fool with my pack under the leaf mold in the corner.
I got it out of there, packed in my mail stone, and headed up into the watershed.