Oakland Cemetery

We like cemeteries. We all like them for different reasons, but the things we all like about them are how quiet and beautiful they can be. How the history sort of engulfs you. And Atlanta happens to have two of the oldest, most beautiful, historical cemeteries in the Southern US region. Last year we visited the Westview Cemetery and it did not disappoint. But it was is the smaller, less significant of the two well-known cemeteries here in Atlanta. A couple of weeks ago we finally made it to the other one, Oakland Cemetery.

According to Oakland’s website, this cemetery (less than a mile from Downtown) is Atlanta’s oldest public park, and the final resting spot of some of Atlanta’s most notable figures. The cemetery spans 48 acres, and includes a garden and a Visitors’ Center with a Museum Shop. They have full and part-time staff running around the clock to keep up with the gardens, the landmarks, the burial grounds, and shop and museum. It’s truly a remarkable place and you should visit if you ever find yourself in The ATL. Now you know me, I’m ’bout to dig into the history for y’all, so if you are not inclined to read about how the cemetery came to be, go ahead and skip to the bottom for pictures from the day we visited because we are going back, y’all.. Way back…

In 1850 Atlanta bought six acres of land and named it the Atlanta Graveyard. Charming. The land was sandwiched between what is now Decatur St. and Memorial Drive. We took the MARTA to King Memorial Station, hopped off, walked one block and found the front entrance. It’s a great stop if you ever find yourself on the MARTA headed into Downtown. It stops in Sweet Auburn, if you get off and walk north you’ll hit Rev. Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.’s home and memorial, walk straight to the Georgia Capital, and walk south and there you have Oakland.

Oakland is considered one of Atlanta’s oldest plots of land because the city itself was set ablaze in 1864 by the Union soldiers during the Atlanta Campaign, but Oakland was spared. The city fell to Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman on September 2nd, which if your memory serves, was the beginning of the end for the Confederate Army, as Sherman managed his way to Savannah in December (wherein Maj. Gen. Sherman wrote to President Lincoln to offer up a Christmas gift: The City of Savannah) and then on to the sea. How nice of him. (Savannah was spared as well, on account of its beauty.)

Getting off track.

There is an estimated 70,000 people interred at Oakland and even though the last plots were sold in 1884, there are still regular burials there today, mainly on family-owned plots or plots that Atlanta owns, of which they still own many. In addition to the monuments and mausolea, there are plots of land that were strictly dedicated to certain groups of people, which was customary in the South at that time. There is a section for Jewish people, a section for Black people, a section for Confederate soldiers, and there is a Potter’s Field aka a Popper’s Grave, a section for those who did not have the money to be buried.

Of course all of this happened after the expansions. The original six acres is most famously the home to Martha Lumpkin Compton (what a name!) she was the daughter of Governor Wilson Lumpkin and Atlanta was actually known as “Marthasville” after her between 1843 and 1845.

There is also a famous golfer in the original six acres, his name was Robert Tyre “Bobby” Jones, and I have no idea about him, but I do know that people love to visit his grave and leave golf balls for luck on the links, I suppose.

The grave I was most excited to pay homage to was Margaret Mitchell Marsh, the author of Gone With the Wind. It took a bit of meandering, don’t worry they have an app, but we eventually found her and I sacrificed a penny like many other writers before me. Voodoo? Nah. You want to know about real voodoo, you should probably read my four-part series on my Mardi Gras experience, including how I didn’t leave a sacrifice at Marie Laveau II’s grave. (Shudder). I have since repented, leaving a sacrifice at her home on St. Ann St. last summer.

We didn’t spend too much time at the cemetery, not as much as we’d like anyway, so we plan to go back in the summer when everything is in full bloom, but we walk the original six acres and visit the Bell Tower where the Visitors’ Center and Museum Shop are located. And bathroom. There are bathroom.

If you plan right, you could spend a whole afternoon, if not longer, at Oakland. It’s 48 acres is sure to inspire you. It will also scare you, surprise you, and if you’re lucky, wrap its arms around you and pull you down, deep down, into its Souther roots. I say let it.

M.

Problems in Houston

Houston, we have a problem. That is what I repeatedly said to my husband and son while on a whirlwind weekend trip to Houston a couple of weeks ago. I said it usually when I had to go to the bathroom. A number two. Somewhere in public. It never got old for my son, but I assume that it did for my husband, particularly when we were at NASA and he said, “You need to see a damn gastroenterologist.” Hmpf.

So yeah, we went to Houston a couple of weeks ago*. We got there on a Friday night and left on a Sunday and honestly, for it being part of Texas, I was pleasantly surprised. Now, would I go again? Uh, probably not. Once you’ve seen that many concrete highways, strip malls, and chain restaurants in one place, you are probably good. But I am glad we went. I am glad my son got to go to Texas (his first time) and I am glad that I gave Texas another shot after the fiasco I had in Amarillo many moons ago. (Let’s save that for another post shall we? Just know, I am not a fan of Texas.)

But Houston felt different. It certainly felt WAY better than anywhere in West Texas, and it certainly smelled better too. My son was slightly disappointed because I had told him that you sorta of know when you cross the Texas state line because you can smell the cow poop. He was sniffing, but there was no cow poop in sight. So that was a plus, but it also made me look like a liar. So now I have to take him to Abilene. Which sucks. There is never a good time to go to Abilene.

Anyway, we went to NASA, toured the Johnson Space Center (until we got rained out and had to take the tram back early causing us to miss Mission Control, #SadFace) then tried some of that awesome chain restaurant food that we have never been to (Chuy’s and Shipley Donuts), stopped in to the Art Car Museum (which was a big hit), and took a stroll to Houston’s own version of Chicago’s “Bean” which is lovingly called, “The Refried Bean”. We even met up with our cousin Britny, and her sweet doggo Willow, who have called Houston home for several years now. It ended up being a nice, little weekend, just jam-packed. Then again that’s how we usually do things.

Anywho, here are some pics for your enjoyment. As always, have a great day and remember, Houston—not bad, Amarillo—very bad. Mkay. Bye.

M.

A Houston Morning (view of downtown)

*This trip was before the sadness and madness that unfolded in El Paso. I feel so sorry for what happened there. And while I am steadfast in my distaste of Texas as a whole, I know there are a lot of good people there, just trying to get by. And a lot of them are immigrants. And that was some crazy, racist-fueled bullshit, and if you want to see how I feel about that you can check out a vlog I made here: https://missygoodnight.com/2019/08/06/right-to-bear-a-tomahawk-thrower/