Down the Road a Piece

By MILT GROSS | Dec 03, 2013

Those wonderful graveyards

Now that we’ve feasted too much at Thanksgiving, we can think about the ultimate result of eating too much for too many years. Or of something else.

The graveyard. I’ve always enjoyed wandering in cemeteries, pausing from time to time to read old engravings and sometimes imagining the world in which the folk beneath the stones once lived.

When I was a much younger kid and our family vacationed in Belgrade, we took a walk up the road one day and came across an old graveyard at the intersection of Route 135 and the Prescott Road. As we wandered through it, we found a group of grave markers from a single family. An engraving told us that the family had all perished from a disease carried by cows.

This was sad but made me thankful for our modern sciences and protections against such tragedies.

Another cemetery a few miles north usually brings a chuckle, when I think about Uncle Harry, trying to find my Great Aunt Amy Brackett’s farmhouse after driving all the way to Maine from Pennsylvania. They had found their way north on the turnpikes and major roads. But now they were stymied. The graveyard there is in a triangle formed by Routes 27, 8 and 11, and a local road. I don’t know how long Uncle Harry drove around that triangle before finding Route 135, the road to Aunt Amy’s house.

I just remember chuckling quietly Uncle Harry’s telling us about his adventure of being lost in the wilds of Maine.

Last week I came across a cartoon in the Bangor Daily News, depicting a few graves. On one of the grave stones, the engraving read, “I told you I was ill.” Not bad.

On public radio, also last week, I heard the true story of an English woman, who’s hobby was visiting cemeteries. At one graveyard, she came across the following engraving, “ Mean old John Odell, died and went straight to hell.”

Poor old John, what a tale to tell.

Not in a graveyard but an old unused farm road from the edge of a clearing at Acadia National Park’s Carroll Homestead, I found an ancient piece of stone history. The old house and remains of outbuildings and stone walls was the first permanent home built in Southwest Harbor. Once you find it, the old farm road leads through the woods, and it is not obvious from the clearing. I am in the habit of stumbling around in woods, not exactly a hobby but something I find myself doing.

The stumbling the day I found the road led me across a brook just inside the woods and through a small wetland. Then I found the road and followed it north, on the west side of  St. Sauveur Mountain. After following the road for probably a half mile, I came across two or three old stones, apparently meant to be the beginning of a structure when the farmer Carroll in residence at the time had a chance to begin it.

Here I stood in the middle of the woods, looking at some one’s dream for their future. Which never became part of their future.

The Carrolls moved into the village a mile or so away.

A grave marker I’ll probably never forget was in a tiny cemetery over in western Maine between Weld Corner on Route 142 and Coos Canyon in Byron on Route 17. The gravel road was called the Byron Road. On our way to climb Tumbledown Mountain, my  father, mother, and I noticed a tiny graveyard on the north side of the road. We stopped and wandered through several people’s final resting place.

Then we saw the grave and the etching:

“My youthful friend, come take a thought,

“How soon the grave will be your lot.

“Make sure of Christ, while life remains,

“That death may prove eternal gains.

Along all the trails and roads I’ve followed since through the years, I’ve never forgotten that marker.

I’ve given it some thought.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross copyright 2013

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