This thread is for the purposes of displaying two things:
1. What real life people, places, or situations should really appear in Bradbury stories or poems, as only he could write them?
2. What real life people, places, or situations are uncannily reminiscent of already-existing Bradbury works?
In the "should be written by Bradbury" category, first up, I vote for this place and its unique proprietress: http://ludb.clui.org/ex/i/CA3311/
Cool topic idea, Dandelion, and I look forward to you once again becoming the moderator. I agree, the link you gave would make a great Bradbury story. I am especially fascinated by the part about the ballerina who came to get a flat repaired and never left. That sounds very Bradburyesque!
that sounds almost exactly like what bradbury would right about. though he writes about so much stuff almost any strange story could be a bradbury story
The Winchester Mystery House.
"Years from now we want to go into the pub and tell about the Terrible Conflagration up at the Place, do we not?"
I can see Bradbury writing about something to that effect. He writes about the weirdest things that people think could never come true, but there is always that small possibility that it could happen.
This paragraph on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder comes from "A National Center for PTSD Fact Sheet" at http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/facts/general/fs_what_is_ptsd.html
"The course of chronic PTSD usually involves periods of symptom increase followed by remission or decrease, although some individuals may experience symptoms that are unremitting and severe. Some older veterans, who report a lifetime of only mild symptoms, experience significant increases in symptoms following retirement, severe medical illness in themselves or their spouses, or reminders of their military service (such as reunions or media broadcasts of the anniversaries of war events)."
Um..."Lafayette, Farewell," anyone?
The Amargosa Opera house is near the two most famous "Ghost Towns" in the old West: Bodie on the way up there and Ryolite near the California-Nevada border. I have been to both in my younger days. They invoke a feeling of people still moving through the old buildings and life going on as it did in the silver heydays of the late 1800's and early 1900's. There should be many Ray Bradbury "October People" still there in the towns. The places are thick with stories and memories of struggling people looking for a better life and most not finding it, leaving broken and downtrodden never to return. They just walked off and left the towns. It also has some of the feelings of The Martian Chronicles in it as well. Great places to pick up vibrations for triggering stories.
I have seen a piece on Huel Houser's Califonia's Gold program on PBS about the ballerina who stayed to play to the people in the Amorgosa Opera House. That story is very reminisent of Ray's story The Day It Rained Forever.
All this makes me want to jump in the SUV and get back on the road to anywhere but the mundane everyday world I am presently coping with. Writers! To your pens (or computers) and let the stories begin!
Here is one, if there ever was one!
So I go to a yard sale on Saturday, and in the back yard along with a lot of tools and camping equipment are lined up in a perfect row, and too close together to be burials, three gravestones, engraved, with names and both birth and death dates. Two are of young men who died in 1911 and 1914, and one is of a lady of over 70 who died in 1933. In other words, likely way too recent to be private burials. They have three DIFFERENT last names, one common, one moderately unusual, and one unusual! So I jokingly ask the guy if he's selling the tombstones, and he says he doesn't know where they came from or how they got there--he found them tossed over the embankment when he got the place, and lined them up in the yard--I don't know how long they have owned that place. (They did mention it was less than nine years.) He doesn't want them or seem to have any idea of what to do with them.
So (with visions of "The Tombstone," "Free Dirt," and this story I wrote about a family who comes into possession of a stolen grave marker with disastrous consequences, dancing in my head--) I told him it might not be robbery or vandalism--sometimes cemeteries are moved, for building or whatever purposes, and I really don't know what is done with either the remains or the stones in these cases! But if there were graves existing for these people, there ought to be a way to determine it. I took down all information on the stones, and I suppose the first thing would be to go to the courthouse on Monday and research county burial records to see if they belong in this county. If not, if may mean a long search in online sources to determine where (if anywhere) they belong. This is a situation I've never encountered before. If they don't belong anywhere (in other words, no grave exists any longer) what ought to be done with the stones?
But honestly, if I found such a thing I wouldn't leave it sitting around for a day without beginning to look into it! Can you BELIEVE some people?
It IS against a state law to have human remains, but we don't know if there even are any remains connected with these stones. If it is against some law to have them, he is being pretty bold inviting the community over to see them by advertising a yard sale on television. Someone may do something about it. My strong suspicion in this case is vandalism, the reason being we live in a rural area where there is a lot of opportunity for mischief with no witnesses and extremely little call to disturb burial sites for building purposes.
By the way, patrask, I've haunted cemeteries since at least the age of 9 when I read a terrific horror story called "God Grante That She Lye Stille," by Cynthia Asquith. Since then I've read many ghost and horror stories and kept up my fascination with cemeteries.
Occasionally I'd stroll around a cemetery hoping for inspiration, to stir up a few October Country ghosts or whatnot. One time some years back, at exactly this time of year, I went up to the City Cemetery and discovered a freshly dug grave. All around it were bits of wood, resembling tree bark, only there were no trees nearby and no indication of the stump of an old tree. There were also strewn bits of cloth, looking very thin, torn, faded, and old, and a straight piece of metal, not big enough for a handrail, but could have been metal trim. The sides of the hole were perfectly clean--it didn't appear that they'd hit the end of a coffin in digging the new hole, but dug straight into the site of an old grave! There may have been a lot more debris which had been removed. I mentioned this to a man there visiting his mother's grave, and he said an old man who used to wander around downtown said, "They're burying them two and three deep at the city cemetery and it's a shame."
I thought the real shame (and this is me, but a perfect illustration of my thinking) was that if I'd been Ray Bradbury or any of the other authors who inspired me (some of whom inspired him as well) I could have used such details as part of a great story. Yet I've spent half a lifetime picking up interesting scraps of all kinds and don't seem to be able to incorporate them into one coherent fabric, as it were. This is the EXTREME discouragement which makes my life EXCEEDINGLY hard to live! I seem to deal in facts--which Bradbury very understandably says put him to sleep at noon--and want to move beyond facts but at what seems an acceptable distance for me.
I checked out all three names in the state database. The one who died in 1911, aged nearly 21, is shown in the 1910 census as living in a town halfway across the state, but could have moved here, then died. The one who died in 1914, aged 18 years, is shown in the 1910 census as living here. The old lady has a more common name. She isn't any of the four listed under that name in the Social Security Death Index and I can't find a record which is her unless she either lied about her age in the 1910 census or the census taker got it really wrong. (The ages of the other two are slightly wrong in the census according to the dates on the stones, but the one in the 1910 census is really off to be the old lady.)
Besides the three headstones there was a fourth marker, a footstone reading simply "Father." I doubt it belonged to either of the guys, both of whom are listed as "Son of," so probably unmarried. What's more, no expert here, but the footstone is marble and I would guess it to be a good 20 years older than either of the headstones, so parts of at least four graves here. The really disconcerting thing is this guy has a marshy, boggy area between his house and the river (my first impression was the word "swamp") and anyone tossing markers from the dyke into the swamp could toss them into the river as well! So who KNOWS what may be lurking on either side of where these turned up!
My instinct would be to check county burial records and see if they tell which of several cemeteries these three headstones belong in. Could be the city cemetery, but I'm really guessing one of the rural ones which stopped being shown on county maps due to vandalism. One cemetery, in the next county, even had the road leading to it plowed over due to this. The footstone, he may as well keep, next to impossible to identify. It goes to show what I always say, if a thing isn't securely fastened or red hot (and sometimes even if it is) some joker will steal it. I do fully admit, he had no business keeping the stones after finding them but at least he is agreeable to the idea of returning them. If there's any record of when they may have disappeared I'll be very interested in that. I doubt there'll be a writeup as it might encourage more vandalism, but it will be a good deed to see them returned. (I'm still struggling with wanting to be a good writer, and accepting being a good deed doer as a very poor second.)
Anyhow, I certainly have a winner for "Strangest Object(s) Ever Found at a Yard Sale."
Dandelion, that is an amazing story. You might consider contacting the police, not so much to "tattle" on the guy, although he deserves it, but because they would have easier access to all the records you might need to search through to get to the bottom of this. A lot of these kinds of records require fees to be paid, and you shouldn't have to do that. The police would turn the stones over to whatever agency is needed, and they would do their own research. I have been looking for various records on one of my grandfathers for a number of years, and have been frustrated with many dead ends, but seem to be closing in on the information now. But in some searches, I had to sign some kind of legal document swearing I was related to this person I was researching. Otherwise, they wouldn't give me access to the records. You may run into that problem, too. I honestly think the police should step in here, but I think you are wonderful for trying to right this wrong. As for your frustrations with the writing process, I would like to say the one book of yours I read was fantastic, so I know you've got what it takes. I hope you hang in there and don't get too discouraged.
I hate to turn the guy in. Tomorrow I'll go to the courthouse. If that doesn't work, I'll go to the library, and if that doesn't work, I'll contact the historical society. If really no one knows or will do anything, I do have a friend in the sheriff's department, but I can't believe I would have to check that many sources and come up empty. I am slightly more concerned about *where* they were found, and whether anyone would really be willing or able to drain that swamp or search all up and down that river dyke!
THE PLOT THICKENS.
So I go to the County Courthouse today, ask to see the cemetery records, and it turns out that all three of these people were buried in our city cemetery. (Thank goodness--I had terrible visions of searching through the weeds of some remote rural burying ground.) The two young men, whose stones exactly matched, were from the same section. What's more, they had to be, as I suspected all along, related, as the last name of one was the same as the middle name of someone else in the other one's family. The old lady also belonged in the city cemetery but they weren't sure of the section. So I go to City Hall and ask. It turns out the three of them were from the same lot of the same section, spots 1, 2, and 3, in other words, right in a row! And, as the lady at City Hall said, "The guy had them in his yard and didn't even call us. That was pretty cheesy." He didn't live ANYWHERE NEAR the cemetery. They were obviously dumped there, but when, and by who, are questions.
Luckily a guy who works there knows the guy who has the stones and says he'll pick them up. So I was able to make good on my promise to "send a man with a truck to pick them up." I ask, can you simply find the empty spots and put them back in? And they said, NO, the city could not handle that expense! They'd have to be put in the storage shed until a family member could be located willing to have a monument company reset the stones!
So I went to the library to see what else I can find out. It turns out the old lady was married into at least one of the families and possibly both! She seems to be the mother of the 21-year-old man, but her obituary lists her as the mother of a state senator with the same last name as that of the 18-year-old man! (They were born five years apart and died three years apart.) She's buried under the name of her last husband who may be at least her third! So the two guys could be either cousins or half-brothers! Anyhow, the one right next to her is her son!
HERE'S THE KICKER: the pastor officiating at her funeral service in 1933 was from MY CHURCH! He may be related to one of the families depending on the spelling of the name, which I can check soon. The librarian is putting together this whole genealogy and can find if there are any living family members. I couldn't stand the suspense. Now that I knew the lot, I went up to the cemetery myself. I needed to go there anyway as I take care of a friend's grave. It turns out the section these people were in is right across from hers anyway. So WHAT SHOULD I FIND there but eight stones, six in a straight row and two down below, EXACTLY MATCHING, evidently all put in at the same time! And three of them are these three people! Only the new stones aren't as good. The old stones gave birth and death dates and initials of parents. The new ones have only the names and years. So I can maybe find out from the city when the new ones were placed, which will give us an idea when the old ones went missing. We think the "Father" footstone belongs to the old lady's first husband.
Right now we are left with the questions:
--Are five or more additional headstones (not even mentioning footstones!) in that guy's swamp or elsewhere? The city said they couldn't undertake a search for them.
--Since the stones have been replaced, it will open a whole can of worms for the family, whether to put the originals back and what to do with the replacements! Wonder what they'll do.
I talked to the newspaperman here and he said he'd see if it was a story "depending on what's done." It's the closest I've been involved in a mystery and certainly the most exciting thing that has happened here since the horse and wagon ran over the spectator at the Memorial Day parade. (Which the paper pointedly did NOT write up. It's frequently the case that the most talked-about thing in town never gets written up in the paper.)
I asked if there were any other stones in the shed and they said no, this is the first time such a situation has ever arisen. It does seem strange that I'm the only person who said anything! A friend of mine who was at the yard sale, though, said she didn't notice the stones. It's possible that being the sort of person who snoops under, around, behind everything, I happened to see them when others didn't. I do feel let down though to learn the graves are already marked!
On my way to the Chicago abyss, few little thoughts: considering that we've actually had to run fundraisers to keep the library and pool in operation, I guess my city can't afford much! If it could they'd be fixing the streets it seems to me instead of messing with tombstones, let alone duplicate ones. The newspaperman and I had an interesting conversation on the more history is discarded in one generation, the more people in another are hungry for it. There's a lot of that now.
It's no wonder I couldn't find the old lady in the 1910 Census, as she was no doubt not listed under that last name. Unlikely that the two guys could be half-brothers, as the mother's initial is different. I'd guess them to be cousins. Anyhow, the one right next to her is her son! Strange that, according to the obituary, she gave birth to sons of both these family surnames, wonder if someone got something wrong or she got around a lot.
The name of the pastor from my church seems to be a coincidence. He had a similar last name to one of these families, but spelled different.
So now I feel all wretched and let down as it seems I'm not only missing the chance to be a good writer, but the chance to be a good deed doer, which I'd accepted only as a sort of secondary fallback anyway. I can see only two possibilities here: some obsessive-compulsive soul decided, if all the stones are in a row (which six are), they MUST match, and simply trashed the old ones, OR someone vandalized 6-8 (at least) stones, the family figured they wouldn't be recovered for years (if ever) and replaced them. If any family members are even located, they'd be put to the expense of having the old ones removed, then have to figure how to dispose of them in such a way so that no one ever comes across them in future, mistakes them as stolen property, and has to go through all this! Then they'll be left with three matching and three non-matching, unless they want to search all up and down that river dyke, through swamps, tall grass, and river, to maybe find something and maybe not. They might not thank me for it.
I talked to my friend in the sheriff's department, to learn if they have any sort of dredging equipment, like if they suspect someone has drowned. He says they don't, and in such a case would employ divers, though in a body of water this shallow waders with sticks might be indicated.
The only thing I can think of right now is if the replacements are left in place and the originals placed in some county museum, it would be sort of a curiosity to have vintage gravestones inside, you know, protected from the ravages of the weather. Just an idea still trying to salvage something out of this situation!
Guys...let's NOT let this happen to Ray's and his grandparents' houses!
Geez, this is creepy. I've been to this cemetery! http://www.taphophilia.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=2644
This actually looks like quite an interesting site for ghouls of all stripes! Here is a similar case:
And just what *is* proper use of a discarded gravestone which was either *never* used to mark a grave or is no longer needed?
Obviously, dandelion, you have a gift for historical research.
Remember the Mississippi floods a few years back? Coffins were unearthed, floating downstream. How do you get the remains back to the markers?
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