Friday, June 13, 2003

Recently I read something about Helen Keller from the New Yorker that was linked in Arts and Letters Daily (I think it caught my eye because of the reference to Mark Twain). The article mentioned that Helen Keller's teacher, Annie Sullivan, was in a poorhouse in Massachusetts when she was a girl. That got me thinking about the Poorhouse article again.

In the links at that site, there were some photographs of poorhouse cemeteries, and there is one in Minnesota that is a public park, with horseshoe courts built over the graves. In Ulster County, the poorhouse lands are now the fairgrounds, and the cemetery, or what's left of it anyway, is behind the county pool.

We sometimes walk the dogs in the lovely cemetery near the Castleton house. For some reason, these poorhouse images brought to mind a little stone that is in the cemetery that reads: "In memory of the infants who died during the epidemic of 1918." Who were they?, I have always wondered. Were there so many that they had to be buried together? Or are they scattered about, but only later there was time to remember them?

I think when you are fascinated by history as I am, questions about life and death crop up even more often than they do otherwise. Sometimes I have to tell myself to let it go. But more than being morose, these thoughts also are gentle reminders that it is important to be happy now and to enjoy every day, even the rainy ones, even the ones filled with less than pleasant tasks.

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