By Rick Hinton
Today you can discern the original section of the Greenwood Cemetery from the newer addition to the north by the yellow bridge separating the two. It’s a startling contrast between the beginnings of a small-town cemetery and time that has moved forward. The newer section has a modern feel and can be seen from adjoining U.S. 31 as traffic rolls by. The ground is more uniform due to the advancement of burial science; the older section lies locked in the past.
Early graveyards were often located in the center of communities, becoming a social gathering spot. They used cemeteries and churchyards as meet & greets for markets, fairs, games and picnics. Not so very long ago on a sunny, hot Sunday afternoon, before the advent of air-conditioning, Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis was the place to go for a few hours of frolic, picnicking and to cool off! It would appear people back then were more active and embraced the outdoors.
I don’t personally have an overwhelming passion for investigating cemeteries but will admit I do on occasion embrace the peace and solitude they offer, along with the opportunity to study the life histories reflected in the stones. It has a calming effect on the soul to realize that even in the act of “passing,” life continues its steady course forward unabated.
Many feel there’s a bad side to investigating cemeteries. Many cemeteries, Indiana included, have rumors of a “Big Nasty” – a dark ominous force that will bum-rush you and watch joyfully as you sprint for your car. Some chowder-heads stroll into a graveyard armed with Ouija Boards and aspirations of a stirring seance – an evening that can come around full circle and bite them in the rear.
One proclaimed – “I confess that I’ve never hunted ghosts in a cemetery, because frankly I think a cemetery ghost might be boring. Would you come back to haunt your moldering body? Not me! I’m going to come back to some place I loved when I am a ghost. I’m going to jump out of walls and scare the willies out of people! But, that’s just me.”
Another had deeper insight –“If our consciousness can transcend the dimensions, then what we are observing could be nothing more than the shadows of a 4th dimensional existence.”
Should you hunt in a cemetery? There’s nothing inherently bad about doing it, but at the same token, nothing good either. Yet, it should always be approached in a respectful manner, and to respect the living. Folks paying a visit to their deceased will not necessarily be enamored by your scientific foray in contacting the dead. They’ll most likely find it highly disrespectful and offensive. This is, after all, the resting place of their loved one, and might like to hold onto the belief that the departed have moved on to a better place – not lingering behind as a ghost. If you’re in a cemetery when they come to call it’s best to keep quiet, put away the equipment and either move on or wait for them to leave. It’s not your playground, but rather a tribute to honor those who have lived and loved before us.
Visiting the Greenwood Cemetery is akin to touching base with the history of a community; those that have come before made their own personal mark and moved on. What do I feel while visiting these grounds? Peace … serenity … a sense of awe and wonder in this journey through life!