You know I love visiting cemeteries. Last week I got to visit a new one! While I was on my way to help my friend Misha move, I stopped by Rose City Cemetery and said hello.
Rose City is on Fremont Street in the Northeast part of the city. It was opened on May 27, 1906 and contains 37,263 graves. It is flat, and most of the trees are very young. I was there at noon on a sunny day and there was not much shade. The graves, all marked and in straight rows, face the paved roads. It felt …. suburban. Open, flat, well-swept.
This is very different from Lone Fir Cemetery, in our neighborhood. Lone Fir opened in 1855 and most of its trees are over a hundred years old. It is hilly and shady, and the roads were laid in years after the burials began, so that as many as 10,000 of the estimated 25,000 graves have been lost to time, paving and vandalism.
There were years when it wasn’t maintained at all, and a lot of lovely monuments were damaged or simply collapsed.
The graves are not in rows and often face each other, rather than a path or road. It feels dusty and cluttered, a proper place to be dead.
I have done some research on Rose City Cemetery, trying to learn more about who founded it, interesting people buried there, and why it was built where it was. There isn’t much to learn, so far.
After it was opened in 1906, at the eastern edge of the new Rose City neighborhood, the Nikkei Jin Kai, or Japanese Ancestral Organization, bought a part of it. After World War II and the horrible internment camps where Japanese American citizens were locked up, the Nikkei Jin Kai bought most of the cemetery, and now maintains and owns it all.
Of course, since it is newer and has been consistently taken care of, Rose City’s tombs are straight and strong and its trees and hedges are trimmed. I will learn more, and tell you about it when I do. But I think I still like Lone Fire better. As Linus would say, it is a sincere cemetery. “Not a sign of hypocrisy as far as the eye can see.”