Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Nameless markers

a few weeks back we were in bridgewater, approximately an hour from boston, and decided to check out some cemeteries there. the one above was in a very quiet area; on the one side there were large family homes, and it was not a through street. or... it actually was, but you were not permitted to drive on that road, as it was leading to the bridgewater state hospital; a state facility housing the criminally insane, and those whose sanity is being evaluated for the criminal justice system. surrounded by many wired fences, that complex seemed huge, and inaccessible (with a reason, i think so). we were driving around to find the above cemetery, but as several roads eventually led to the institute, we had to turn a few times (i didnt want to risk being chased by some policemen by playing the dumb tourist, ignoring the signs). there has been an institute at this location since 1855, and just like in many other facilities in the us, bad things have happened there (just read wikipedia!); for example, in 1910 they committed a man for a break-in, for which stands 2 years; but in 1967, this man was still inot released.... also in 1967 a documentary, titicut follies, came out, showing how inmates were (mis)treated in this hospital.
the above cemetery belongs to the hospital and has similar nameless, just numbered, markers as i have showed you once before. it was just a huge field with stones in long rows, some toppled over, not well maintained. to the left you see part of what might once have been a fence, but now it was just an open field. to the right you see part of a fence; this is a small, separate cemetery! named the "conant street smallpox cemetery" with a few graves much older, not related to the hospital (established in 1778).
as you can see, a dog was curious to see what we strangers were doing there! she came out running from the garden directly across the cemetery, as soon as we left the car. she was very cute, i have to admit as someone who is afraid of dogs. and just in the corner, to the right you see the owner of the dog. we talked briefly with her, and she said she had never known, after all these years of living there, that the small cemetery was named the smallpox cemetery. she also told us that the hospital cemetery was still active!! can you imagine that? still people are buried here as a number. in 2012! she said she would sometimes see that happen, from her window. she did not seem to be as surprised about that as me, saying "well, i guess those people were just paupers, inmates from the institute who had no money and nobody to claim the body. its good that they at least get a burial!" but why there? and why without a name? a matter of privacy? i really wonder about that. she mentioned that she would see a lady with a small child, every now and then, visiting one of the "graves", but that she hadnt seen her for a while. moreover, she told us that every now and then someone would escape from the prison, and living so nearby, they would be alerted; depending on how dangerous the person is, they would be advised to stay inside.....
for other taphophiles, go here! for an interesting blogpost about this cemetery and 1 particular grave, go here.