Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: The Weirdest Thing I Loved as a Child

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A photograph of a very old graveyard. The gravestones are covered in moss and have most of their etchings either hidden by moss or worn away. The largest and nearest one has begun to bend over and looks like it might soon fall over entirely. Please note that this post includes references to child mortality and epidemics because little Lydia read tons of stories about (typically Victorian-era) children who caught all sorts of unpleasant illnesses. This will be a general overview, and I will not be going into detail about specific characters, individuals, or causes of death.

The weirdest thing I loved as a child was visiting the pre-1950 (ish?) sections of graveyards, figuring out how old the people there were when they died, and trying to guess what might have killed them and if they would have survived if they had access to modern medicine. I was most interested in the gravestones of those who died young because almost everyone I knew who died had done so at a ripe old age.

Why was I interested in this? Well, there were a few reasons for it:

1)  I’ve always thought cemeteries are beautiful and peaceful places to remember the dead. I liked seeing the pretty tombstones, reading names on them that maybe weren’t so commonly used these days, and pondering their creative epitaphs.

2) Getting sick made me anxious in small part because of how many classic novels I’d read about kids being disabled or killed by all sorts of diseases that can now be cured with medications like antibiotics or prevented entirely with vaccines. (See also: Beth March from Little Women, Helen Burns from Jane Eyre, and Mary Ingalls from the Little House books). It was always nice to go to the library later on, or maybe ask my mother who was training to become a nurse back then, and learn about how modern medicine has radically changed the world in this regard.

3) It made getting vaccinated slightly less horrible. I still hated needles, but at least I knew why vaccines were so important.

4)  I liked being scared, and it was frightening to read lists of names on a gravestone who died one right after the other and realize they were probably related and suffered from the same illness.

In conclusion, I have a bit of a gothic side. Don’t tell anyone. 😉


Filed under Blog Hops, Personal Life

19 Responses to Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: The Weirdest Thing I Loved as a Child

  1. Lydia i used to do a similar thing when I was young. There is something so peaceful about a cemetery, and like you I used to find the names interesting.

  2. I can appreciate this. I used to read Reader’s Digests and be terrified that I was going to have a heart attack at any time. Cemetaries are fascinating places to explore, especially older ones where the monuments vary widely. These days in the States, they’re all flat plaques to make lawnmower work easy.

    • Thanks, Stephen.

      Yeah, I’m not a huge fan of the flat plaques that are being put in these days. I totally understand why it’s done and think it’s good that cemetery workers have easier jobs now, but they’re not as nice to look at and I think it will be easier for flat gravestones to be lost or forgotten.

  3. As a child I had a morbid fear of Spontaneous Human Combustion. I blame Ripley’s Believe It Or Not for that one.

  4. I like going to cemeteries as an adult. Well, in the daytime. I do not like scary things!

  5. I didn’t discover this until I was a teenager, but I also used to wander around looking at headstones. Also after I had a serious medical episode and had therefore learned what mortality felt like. I liked the cemeteries in England where some of the stones had been there so long that the inscriptions had almost completely eroded. It was a mix of fear, grossed out-ness and fascination for me. I always found the humbler headstones without fancy carved angels and stuff more interesting, too, because you have no info other than names and dates. I went to a couple of cemeteries in New Orleans when I was there and it was really interesting to see how different they were from Canadian ones and learn about why they had them above ground etc. Great post!

  6. Here’s a book recommendation for you, A Fine and Private Place by Peter Beagle (Wrote the Last Unicorn.)
    When I go visit my parents grave at the National Cemetary in Santa Fe, they have markers dating back to the Spanish American War. Lots of history there.

  7. I don’t remember if I visited many cemeteries as a kid, but I do remember looking at model houses for sale in new housing developments with my parents. My sister and I would run around, “hiding” and pretending that we lived there.

  8. As a kid would hold my breath every time U drive pass a graveyard. Ever since a young age I always had an interest in reading about weird and spooky things.

  9. I remember those books. A poem I wrote in college began “I never wept for Little Eva, Carol Bird, poor little Beth…”

    Tombstones, history, genealogy…never have been my passion but I can see how they’d be some people’s. So much to be learned (and the fun of being just a little bit scared).

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