It was rainy in Syracuse for a great deal of our visit so our camp was washed out and our plans for cemetery hopping were slightly hampered. We visited quite a few of the known ancestors though and even identified some new stones of "cousins". Probably the stand out cemetery visit for comedic value was to the old part of Oakwood which turns out has some rather new parts tucked into it. Diana was driving her Mazda 5, I was in the front trying to direct and Di's eldest daughter was in the backseat with her boyfriend.
Quite a few of the old side roads were not maintained, some roads were too washed out to risk. But Diana made a right turn to go up a hill. It was not on my directive, in fact I specifically said not to go there. One side of the muddy road was 6 inches shorter than the other. Clearly, Diana was channeling our Dad who would take us on the most terrifying rides up to his land on Woodchuck Hill in Gram's old white Falcon on a road that he often had to get out and repair before we could continue. Dad knew his treacherous road well, when to gun it, when to tilt our collective body weight to one side or the other, when to brace for stomach swirling drops into pot holes whose true depths were hidden by muddy water.
But Diana was just winging it on this rainy day. "I can make it" she boomed as the Mazda's plastic frame went airborne. We landed and bounced back and for on the tires like a pinball caught between rubber bumpers. TILT! We made it to the top of the hill in one piece only to see the road really was not meant for passing through. Diana did a slippery three point turn in the elbow of a two hills and got us back down on the road. Not before, in our vulnerable state of debating how to proceed, a lone man came out of the woods walking our way. "Shit!" Diana screamed and rolled up all the windows and locked the door. Nothing offensive about that.
Down again on the "main" road we found the ends of the earliest part of the cemetery. The chapels had been abandoned, the old pyramids to the kings of Syracuse were boarded up to stop further vandalism. And just inside a woody corner, we found a lion sculpted for one brother by another. The cemetery where the boy is buried wouldn't allow the monument. Oakwood was less restrictive and gave it a private lair of honor.
Oakwood Cemetery doesn't need ghost stories, it is a pretty formidable place in parts. Creepy and dangerous too. Diana vocalizing distress at the sight of an unexpected person was how we all felt. You ebb between a false sense of calm and a real sense of creep. For example, at the lion, we were feeling a little stronger though we were moving as a pack and I kept one foot pointed toward the car. But then Alice's boyfriend had to go up over a little hill in the woods to relieve himself. He came back with a very odd paper mache, devil's mask. Right, I'm out of here. He left it on a bench but still the mind boggles as to what circumstance that brought that mask to that place and why we had to see it.
Undaunted by the devil, Diana decided we need to find the grave of Robert Garrow. I remember when he escaped prison. Diana was babysitting and I was with her because I didn't want to be home alone. I don't know if we heard about it in the morning or what because there was no cell service in the 70s. But we were keeping a watchful eye for him everywhere. I was certain he would turn up on our doorstep. But I felt that about Big Foot too back then.
We went to a new part and spread out. We were further away from the woods now but that didn't stop two deer from wandering out among the stones to feed. I didn't believe Garrow was buried in Oakwood since that is where his most famous victim was found. Famous to us because, like us, she came from the Valley. She was the unfortunate example held up to all local kids to not hitchhike. Why would Garrow be buried here? Finally, I brought up Find a Grave on my phone and sure enough not only was he in Oakwood but supposedly right near where Alicia Hauck had been found. Her case was infamous because the role of attorney/client privilege was challenged by it. Well, we found him and the rain was coming down again. I don't know what I was supposed to feel. All I felt was sorry for the people who owned the adjacent plots. You can't pick your family but you should be able to put a clause in your plot purchase agreement that you don't want a serial killer moving in next door in the afterlife.