Burlingame, KS: Day Trip to the Boonies
What follows are the adventures of two Big City Gals loose... or lost? ...in the Land of the One Finger Wave on a day trip to "the boonies", the purpose of which was to provide my friend Lisa a desperately needed change of scenery while I would attempt to locate and photograph a few graves in the City Cemetery on the edge of Burlingame, Kansas.
"City Cemetery", btw, is a misnomer.
First, the cemetery is no longer managed by the City of Burlingame. Second, the clerks at the tiny Burlingame City Hall have decreed (no doubt to lighten what must be an excruciatingly heavy workload in a town no bigger than a minute) that they no longer have time to look up cemetery plot numbers for out-of-towners.
But being small towners, they aren't genetically capable of out-and-out rudeness to friendly strangers either.
Instead, they'll politely instruct you to contact a local lady who now keeps the records at her home, then they'll carefully write out her name, address and phone number...or rummage around for a Xeroxed copy of the information.
Never mind that this takes more time than simply opening the Cemetery Records book and writing down the Plot/Lot number for an out-of-towner.
But that's a whole other hub...
Lisa has MS and therefore has a lift-equipped van we call the LisaMobile to transport the power wheelchair that's her only means of self-mobility away from home.
The LisaMobile drives like a lumber wagon, and ever since we came "this close" to getting blown into a ditch by a crosswind, I refuse to drive it on windy days. It wasn't windy that day, but it would be hot.
Lisa isn't a family history buff, but nobody's perfect, right? But she does enjoy the detours I sometimes take into cemeteries as I'm driving us around on Errand Day.
This trip, however, was not a quick detour from one store to another. As a Photo Volunteer for Find A Grave, I needed to go to Burlingame City Cem to try to fulfill requests for tombstone photographs.
Lisa was desperate for a change of scenery, even if only to sit in the van soaking up AC and listening to the radio while I trudged up and down rows and rows of graves.
The night before I'd emptied the memory card in my camera, installed fresh batteries, marked each target grave on a grid map of the cemetery, and made a list of names to look for.
An hour, hour and a half tops, of walking and snapping pix is how long I calculated it would take. Piece of cake.
Or would've been, if the graves had been where cemetery records said they were, and if tombstones had ever been placed on them.
Alas, most of the graves on the list were stoneless. When I found nothing but grass in the spot a stone should be, I'd check several rows in either direction. In one instance, the marker I was looking for was across the drive and three rows farther back.
By 11 a.m. the mercury was nudging 90F. We had only marked off less than a third of the list of graves, and I'd photographed exactly three stones.
By noon, even popping into the blessedly cool van to cross off yet another unmarked grave or move the van to the next section, I was definitely wilting.
Plus, we both had to pee.
News flash: public toilets in rural cemeteries are a rarity, and I'd never mastered pop-behind-a-bush squatting. But then I don't normally stay in one graveyard for several hours, so the presence or absence of a loo had never been a concern.
We decided to break for lunch and find a bathroom.
Surprise! If you're in a motorized wheelchair, don't plan on eating at the only cafe in Burlingame unless you can levitate it up and over the two limestone steps at the door. If there's an entrance for wheelchairs, we couldn't find it. Osage City is only 6 miles south and has several Handicapped Accessible restaurants, so that's where we headed.
But I digress...
One grave on the list was close to the road out to the highway. But after parking the van under a huge tree, I realized I'd serendipitously parked only a few steps from the stone of a Burlingame veterinarian named A. W. Hoover whose family tree I'd worked on several years ago after learning his daughter Kate had been a distant cousin-by-marriage of two of my grandchildren.
On a shoot, I never review photos as I go, but instead take several shots from slightly different angles, confident at least one will be perfect. Hence, I didn't know until later that most of the LisaMobile was in the above shot of the Hoovers' stone.
Or that the soldier atop the Civil War memorial would seem to be standing on the Souders stone in this one.
It's...pardon the pun...dead on, don't you think? ;D