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The Day of the Ashes

Yesterday, September 9, 2020 smoke and ashes from the nearby wildfires blocked out the sun and settled on the graves and gravestones in the local cemeteries. The ash covered everything: cars, yards, decks, and the gardens with huge squash leaves and budding marijuana plants were covered with billions of grainy grey granules. At sunrise the world was red, then dark all day, and then a tinge of orange at dusk. Long-time locals said they had never seen anything like it in their fifty years or more here.

With ash covering the town and hills, covid-19 announcing it's here to stay, and the economy tanking it's time to say, “Hey, it's been nice to know ya!” As Jim Morrison said, “No one here gets out alive,” so it might be time to start thinking of a final location to rest these weary bones, SoHum style. Let's explore the options. 

In our area we have the Piercy Cemetery which is neglected and run-down and full. The first person buried there was John McCush in 1892. (Rose Warren, whose name is on one of the new Confusion Hill bridges, is buried there.) 

The Harris Cemetery up the Alderpoint Road has existed since the late 1800's. There are a few plots available if you are related to people buried there or are an old-timer from that area. It's on private land and visits can be arranged if you have ancestors there. (No hippies, ie, back-to-the-landers, have found their final resting place there.)

It is much the same with the Ettersburg Cemetery. It started in the early 1900's and one of the local patriarchs was buried there last year. As space is limited only cremains are accepted for burial. It's located on private land and random visitors are adamently discouraged. (The Harris and Ettersburg cemeteries are pretty much private places for the old families.)

The Briceland Cemetery is also running out of room. If you live in or around that community you can probably be buried there if the cemetery board approves. For those who grew up there, left the area long ago, and want to be buried there the cemetery board is likely to approve. (This cemetery does take hippies, among the notables are Jan Iris and Jed Sherman.)

There is no charge and the family or friends of the deceased must arrange to dig the grave by hand. It's very dense soil so it doesn't have to be six feet deep if there is an appropriate liner installed. 

The grave markers were originally made of wood and many were burned up when fire came through making it difficult to tell who is buried in that section. New grave stones are being installed to replace the wooden ones. All the work is volunteer and families of those interred are encouraged to help with maintenance, like cutting weeds down along the borders.

Once you're got a family member in there the rest of the family can follow, even if they never lived a day in Briceland. One person's brother went in thirty years ago, dying at China Creek. Ten years ago his mother was buried there and he's applying to the cemetery board to inter his recently deceased father's ashes along with his own in the family plot. These cremains will be buried in urns on top of the existing gravesite a couple feet deep.

The Garberville Cemetery is also available for members of the local community although I'm not aware of any boundaries for that. It is a volunteer-run business.

You can buy a 4' by 8' plot for $650. Digging the hole is your responsibility and people have been hiring a guy out of Fortuna who has the equipment after Garberville's longtime grave digger retired. It's $350 to bury cremains but it's unclear whether that price stands alone or if a plot needs to be purchased as well. One plot can fit a whole family of four to six members after cremation. Also, if there's a body already buried six feet under you can bury the cremains on top of it a couple feet deep. (If someone has been forced into poverty, eviction, and homelessness by the virus I wouldn't blame them for erecting a tent on their cemetery plot as a last resort.) 

Best deal on bare-bones cremation in Eureka is about $1000.

(Thanks to Rhonda Hardy, Dick Drewry, Maurie Hobbs, Cindy Hall, and Diane Hawk for providing information about the local cemeteries.)

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