Don Davis places flowers at the grave of his grandfather. His grandmother is to the right a bit.
Photo by Oscar Roloff.
by Oscar Roloff
If there's a Guiness Book of World Records of how many relatives a man has in a cemetery, Don Davis of Carnation may hold that record.
As we walked around Carnation's cemetery, Don, a WWII vet, pointed out more than 30 relatives buried there.
Years ago some of his wife's relatives had been buried at the Pleasant Hills cemetery. About 1920, they were brought to the Carnation cemetery, and that upped the score.
Don's grandpa James, a tall, ramrod-straight, gray-haired man, no doubt recalled the Civil War of 1861-65 because he was born in 1859. The same holds true for his grandma Sarah. James died in 1904, but Sarah lived to be 89.
Don's grandpa James was the builder of the Twin Gables house in Carnation. I'd taken a photo of it 30 years ago and often wondered who had built it. James had not quite finished it, and Don's uncle completed it. It is a very unusual structure.
"Tell me about your grandparents," I asked Don.
"They lived about six miles down the Tolt River Road, then just a wagon trail. They homesteaded there. My grandpa came out in 1890 and always wore a suit," Don said.
"My grandmother was five feet tall and was real religious. She raised her three grandchildren when a daughter died. She was 60 then and always wore a long dress. Was very independent and did all the work herself, wanted no help. Ruled the roost," Don remembered.
"Though they had a horse and buggy, most of the time they walked the six miles to Tolt," he said. "Often she walked alone. One day on the way home, a large cougar followed her, just waiting for her to slip and fall. She was really scared."
Back at the cemetery
Every time I've driven by the cemetery, I've noted how nice it looks, always well-manicured. I was not then aware that Don, now 76, should receive the praise for keeping it so well cared for.
His wife Evelyn is buried there, and his parents Leonard and Ruby, plus scads of other kin. As a caretaker at the cemetery, Don knows where all the graves are located, and on Memorial Day, he's there to lend a hand.
As you drive by and see him there at work, wave to him and honk your horn, as I have done. He's a fine fellow. I like him. When country called, he went. He could write a book about his horrendous WWII experiences in the Burma theater.
They're all my kind of people. I've been writing about them for three decades.