When we finished up at the Farmer's Market this morning, it was too early to go out for lunch so we took a side trip to our future home---a quaint little cemetery in the town where Don grew up. It's one of those places where there are century old tombstones lined up on rolling terrain that are shaded by mature trees, and the squirrels have free reign of the place. We'll have good neighbors there; some dear friends have grave sites next to ours.
In his wild youth Don was once sentenced by a judge to spend the summer mowing the grass in that very cemetery. He and some other boys messed around with the city's welcome sign and changed the 'rock' part of a word to 'fuck.' Now here it is fifty-two years later and the kids of this same tourist town are still making the front pages of the paper with pranks involving the city's welcome sign. Only this year's crops of kids were not as creative as their forerunners. They peeled part of the letters off the sign and threw them in the river, earning themselves a $700 fine in court. No vulgar or clever rearranging of letters or words. No graffiti proclaiming "Leroy was here!"
It's an odd statement about human nature but whenever we go to Don's class reunions someone is sure to bring up the 'fuck' for 'rock' exchange and they laugh about it as if it wasn't an act of vandalism. But you never hear people laughing over the teens featured in recent headlines who mess with the city sign. No, they get the head shakes with rhetorical questions like: "What's happening to kids these days?" and "Where were their parents?" I've even caught myself saying stuff like that, forgetting that history has a way of repeating itself. That's why it's good to wander around 'our' cemetery on a bright Saturday morning. It reminds us that nothing in life is ever truly new or unique.
Jean Riva ©