Monday, April 6, 2009

The Spooky Graveyard

So I went back to Davidson to be an uncle. But that's not what I want to talk about. Don't get me wrong - I love my little new niece Fiona, and I'm glad the little five pounder and my sister are healthy so far. But everyone has lived a story like that, so let me tell you the more entertaining shit that happened during my stay in the place I spent my first 18 years. Graveyard or frat house, graveyard or frat house. Let's start with the grave yard story.

During some downtime out of the hospital on Saturday afternoon, I decided to take Pokey Pants on a driving tour through the Davidson College campus, since she had never seen it before. That town looks like a beautiful twilight zone Pleasantville kind of place - provided you don't talk to any of the people from there. As we drove through north part of the college campus, Pokey Pants pointed at a poorly kept graveyard that was just beyond the 3-hole golf course. (Yes, the campus has links with just 3 holes. That's Davidson.) She said, "Do you have any family there?"

I said, "Honestly, I thought I knew every square foot of this one square mile town; but I've never in my life seen that graveyard. Let's get out and walk it."

It was a mix of old and new graves that was probably 100 feet by 50 feet. The first tombstone we walked up on was arguably the biggest one in all the cemetary. I immediately said, "Oh, CJ Oh, no."

CJ was a guy who was my age. He was very big, and now had a big tombstone. Then I realized he had a wife whose name was on the grave, too. Then I realized that only their birthdates were on the tombstone. Hooray! Cedric was alive! And he apparently married a Latino girl. Who knew? I hadn't seen him since high school.

Then me and the Pokester started walking deeper into the graveyard when I turned around to see what was on the back side of CJ's tombstone.

"Oh, no. CJ! You poor guy," I said. I wasn't trying to be melodramatic. It just came out.

His daughter's name was on the backside of that tombstone. She lived a year. Last year.

As we proceeded through the graveyard, I noticed a lot of last names on the stones that were very common in Northern Meckelenburg County. There were Stinsons and Sloans and Kerns, and Houstons and Carrs and McCains and Burtons everywhere.

"Pokey Pants, I guarantee you I don't have any family in this graveyard. This is a black grave yard! These names are names that belong almost exclusively to black people from Davidson."

Some McCains run for president. Our McCains run from the cops. I've never met a white person with any of these last names I just mentioned until I left Davidson. I never knew, or never thought about, the existence of black graveyards, but once I found myself in one, I knew it was going to be an adventure.

I guaranteed Pokey that I would know a handful of people in this graveyard I had never heard of, and that I would have great stories for her about them.

The first dead person's tombstone I found that I knew was Arteze McCain. He was found murdered in Charlotte in 1993 at the age of 19. Me and my big sister were watching the news the night his body was fished out of the forest. Here were the first words out of our mouthes when hearing the news that night:

Big Sister: He showed me his weiner in kindergarten.
Me: He licked my slurpee and made me give him money outside of the 7-11 when I was 8.

Arteze's grave had a picture of him ground into it. He looked like such the nice guy that no one ever once knew him to be.

Then we saw Wyatt's grave. I hadn't seen him since elementary school. He was nice. He was a little guy two years younger than me. He was dead since '05. I still don't know what happened. His picture was also ground into his grave and he looked as nice as I remember him being. I hope he didn't die being an asshole.

Then we saw Trent's grave. He died back in the early 90's at the YMCA. He was a nice guy who stopped the basketball game to sit down on the court and catch his breath. He never did. He was in his early 20's. I remember hearing about his death from this 50 year old guy named James at a Lollapalooza concert during the Rage Against the Machine set. I remember thinking how Trent was too young to die on a basketball court and James was too old to be at Lollapalooza. Apparently, I was wrong about both.

Then we saw Damon Kern's grave. I hadn't seen him since elementary school. I remember him being OK. Not as nice as Wyatt (they were friends), but nice enough. Even though I hadn't seen him since the late 80's, I remember the night he died. It was Christmas night in 1997. Even though I was speding Christmas with my family in Davidson that day, and what he did happened in Davidson, I only heard about it from the television. What happened? Two police were called to his house. He shot them. They shot him. All three died.

I went to the Burton section, of the graveyard and couldn't find James' stone. I don't know why he wasn't buried there. His dad was buried there. James was murdered in front of Cornelius Elementary school buy some white guy. James was sweet and harmless and very gay. He rode a riding lawnmower everywhere. And he would bring my dad rotten apples in a bag that he grew himself. He once brought them over in a thunderstorm.

I looked over to where the Houston graves were and got said. I didn't want to see Lisa's name over there. She was my age and we always liked each other way too much. She had pretty green eyes and made me melt. I thought she had two kids now and was fine. Oh wait, she was fine! I was reading it wrong. It said "Lola Houston" not "Lisa Houston." (Later on when we got back to my house, I stumbled onto my sister's elementary school yearbook. I did go to school with Lola, but I swear as small as our school was, I don't remember her.) Either way, I'm glad Lisa is okay. She had green eyes and her mom had red hair, the were some genetically interesting black folks, that's for sure.

Then, I told Pokey. "I liked some of these people, and I didn't like some of these people. And I know it's been funny hearing me talk shit about these people as we stand over their dead bodies, but what I'm about to say is going to even make you question my heartlessness. Here's what I want to say. I need to go over to where the Carr family is buried. I want to see if "N---m" is buried there. I hope he is. I hope that fucker is dead as hell. I will be so happy to see his name on a tombstone."

She was like, "Damn! If you feel that way, there must be a reason."

I said, "There are a few reasons. Besides him being a murderer. We got into it a lot when we were kids. Long story short, N---m killed some white guy on just about the same spot where some other white guy killed James -over by the school. That murder had nothing to do with James. It was just a coincidence. And it had nothing to do with me. I was just relieved when he got a lengthy murder sentence, because he and I had gotten into a lot of fights growing up. (He started each one. I was meek when I was young. But I always fought back hard.) Sometimes I have dreams that he comes to kill me. That might be a little far fetched, but I bet if I ran into him even today, he might try to do something. I'd rather that worthless son of a bitch just not be here on Earth while I am.)

Dammit! If he's dead, he sure isn't in that graveyard! (BTW, I spelled his name wrong on purpose, so I don't recieve death from a google search - if you know what I mean.

So that was our day in the black graveyard. And if that graveyard is indicative of other graveyards, then I would draw these conclusion. Black people take more trips to leave flowers and trinkets on the tombstones of their loved ones than white people. However, they take less time maintaining the yard. It had grass where it shouldn't, no grass where it should, it looked like the people were covered in baseball dirt, and I swear they were placed in the ground so shoddily that it looked like some of them were trying to climb out. It also told me that black people, especially black males have a higher rate of premature death. Some by their own doing and the rest by someone else's doing - often one of their own. With all that said, I also learned this. Black graveyards are way more fun than white graveyards. All my families tombstones come along with boring heart disease, alzheimers or old age stories. At least these guys shot each other up and made it interesting. The End

Side Note: After I wrote this I looked up the info on my murderer friend. He's not dead. They don't make it clear if he got paroled or not - but he was up for parole last October. Here's what I found (with some editing by me)

N---m S***d Carr
Conviction: Second-Degree MurderDOC# 00-700-Parole Review Date: 10-3-08Sentence: 42 yearsHas Served: 14 yrs 7 months to date

Crime StoryAccording to a witness who was riding around Cornelius with Carr on February 6, 1994, they approached the victim who was walking in the 19*** block of School Street. N***m stopped the vehicle and the victim walked up to the passenger side. N***m motioned for him to come over to the driver's side. The victim walked around the vehicle to the driver's side and when he leaned down to talk to Carr, N***m shot him in the head for no apparent reason.
The victim fell backward into the street and Carr drove away. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene of the incident.
Carr was charged with first degree murder but pled to second degree and received 42 years in prison.
Return to Inmates for Parole in 2008
Man, that dude was not fun to grow up in a small town with.

1 comment:

  1. Whoa. Well, congrats on the niece!

    Hope you don't get murderized. Thats all I am saying...