One of several tombstones that were toppled when I went out to write about the constant vandalism that had taken place over the years. The grandson of the man whose toppled tombstone is shown is a square dance friend of mine and desires that the name be marked out.
Photo by Oscar Roloff.
by Oscar Roloff
Years ago, I went to an outlying pioneer cemetery to do a story on the damage certain scoundrels had been doing to the site where they'd had many a drinking binge.
After seeing the toppled tombstones and broken beer and whiskey bottles around, I noted that the cemetery's sign was shot full of holes. I went up to take a photo of the battered sign when I saw a car approach with 2 rough-looking passengers.
Seeing me, the two ill-dressed twenty-something men approached and menacingly asked what I was doing. Pointing to the damage to the cemetery, I told them and turned to take another photo of the sign.
Whereupon, I had the strange feeling that I was in some sort of danger. I turned around to see that the leading fellow behind me had his huge fist ready to slam into the back of my neck.
Immediately and unconsciously, I said to myself, "Oh my God. I'm in trouble. My wife doesn't know where I am. These guys can kill me, throw me into the bushes, and take my new car. What can I do?"
Almost instantly, the answer came. I should say, "Oh, by the way, I'm taking these photos for a deputy sheriff who is supposed to meet me here. He should be arriving now, but I must leave. Would you tell him I left?" And that's what I did. The one fellow lowered his fist and let me leave.
On the way home, I became sick. When I got there, I told my wife what had happened and she said, "Don't go there again." I haven't.
Who answered my cry? I don't know. I'm too dumb to have thought up the answer that saved my life. Beats me. What do you think?
Since then, the offspring of the those buried there have asked me not to mention the location or the name of the cemetery. They are all friends of mine and I respect their wishes.
Not long ago, I visited one offspring who told me that the body of her Civil War great-grandfather has never been recovered. The body was in a heavy metal, locked coffin. She, too, asked me not to mention the name of the cemetery.
On the 4th evening after the funeral for my first wife, who'd died of brain cancer, I was sound asleep in bed. About two that night, I heard a voice say "OSCAR." Immediately, I awakened and sat up in the bed. I knew who had said that. I'd recognized her voice.
Two days later when I mentioned that strange and startling episode to two friends, both laughed at me. Yet it was true.
After typing this article, I let a lady read it. She said, "Several nights after my first husband had died of a heart attack, I was awakened to see him standing by my bed." I believe her. Do others encounter the same things?
Due to war-damaged hearing, I sometimes take people to a nearby cemetery to interview them because of the absolute quietness. Several days after I interviewed a man there, he called and said, "Oscar, I know you couldn't hear it, but that time at the cemetery, I'd swear I could hear noise and movement below. Please don't ask me to meet you there again."