The Mission for Oregon

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Cemetery

What better way to start his story than to begin at the place where it all ended: the Lee Mission Cemetery.

My first visit was at night, just a few days ago. In the dark I could tell that the memorial area for Salem's pioneers, called "Diamond Square," had become dilapitated. Many of the headstones were missing, broken, and faded, and the iron railings falling apart.

During the second visit in the daytime I was met by a latina man, who noticed me taking pictures of the sign at the entrance. He came out of his house which stands directly across from the entrance and declared himself the gatekeeper. He told me that he purchased his home from the original owner who had it constructed in 1941. At that time he was handed down the owner's volunteer job of gatekeeper. Every morning and every night, he and his predecessor have opened and shut the iron gates. The man then proceeded to ask my belief in the paranormal.

I said I was open to the idea. He said in all the times he has visited it, he has sensed and seen inexplicable things, things which made him a believer. What's more, many people over the years have come and knocked on his door for help when they too were too scared by something they experienced while on the grounds. He said, "One night a woman asked me to drive her home from her trip to pay respects to her deceased husband. I asked her, 'Where's your car?' and she said, 'It's in the cemetery.' She was much too scared to go back for it. And so I did." That was just one of many examples, he said. And the worst spot, he said, was the southeast corner.

I thanked him and said goodbye. His story cooled the exploratory jets in me, just a smigeon. It was an odd beginning to my investigations, which at this point will now turn to written record.

The next few posts will be covering the occasion of Lee's re-internment in June of 1906.

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