Kissing the bricks

One thing that you cannot escape in Indiana is its automotive history and love of racing, particularly in central Indiana, which is home to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Over the last several years, I have made the rounds of automobile museums throughout the state and seen umpteen early cars in various venues. I’ve heard the tales of titans in the US automotive industry and often walk by “Crazy” Carl Fisher‘s mausoleum in Crown Hill Cemetery. While I haven’t been to a running of the Indianapolis 500, I have enjoyed some events such as practice and the legendary Carb Day at the track.

Before The Greatest Month in Racing commenced this year, I decided to take a behind the scenes tour of the track and peruse their museum. The tour and the museum were well worth it.

The tour is quite a production. I made a reservation but lots of people just showed up and clamored on one of two buses. (On scheduled days, the ninety-minute tour runs several times a day. They seem to expand or contract the number of buses based on how many people show up.)

We started by being driven around the track, listening to a tour guide and a tape by Derek Daley. It was super cool to really feel the effect of the 9-degree banking of the corners as we slowly puttered around the track. To the race car drivers, this banking has the effect of 3 Gs on their bodies.

We stopped midway through what feels like a “canyon”. This is where the race starts and ends, with the media center, control tower, corporate suites, and victory podium consolidated in one area. As race car drivers approach this area, they are greeted by stands on either side of the track; they are kind of encapsulated by fans as they race through.

In contrast, we came to a slow halt and tumbled out of the bus at the famous Yard of Bricks, where the race starts and ends. The track was the brainchild of Carl Fisher, along with a few other automotive industry bigwigs. When the IMS opened in 1909, the track was composed of crushed stone sprayed with tar. It did not work out well. The third race (and first auto race) at the track had to be cut short due to fatalities and wrecks resulting from the road conditions. Fisher immediately had the track repaved with bricks. In 1961, the track was repaved again and all the bricks but a yard at the start/finish line were buried underneath the track as it exists today.

We had the opportunity to see the Yard of Bricks up close and personal—and to participate in the newish tradition of kissing them. (NASCAR winner Dale Jarrett initiated this tradition in 1996, which winners since have emulated.) It was a bit surreal to be standing on the track, in the canyon, looking over at victory podium. (I was struck by how compact the space was. Victory podium seems so large and the area so spacious on TV.)

After a few minutes of taking in the sites, snapping some photos, and, er, kissing the bricks, we got back in the bus and continued on around the track to access the media center and the control tower from the back.

The media center was built in 2000. As we waited for the elevator to take us up to the fourth floor, I poked my head inside an open doorway right off of the lobby. And I found myself looking into the room where press conferences are held—the surrealness of seeing places in person that I had only seen on TV continued.

No time to dally as we were going to the fourth floor where the media hangs out. And I do not mean a few media personnel but several hundred. The room is the size of a football field, the guide said, as I turned to look. The room, with rows of chairs and tables, can hold more than 300 people. A cafeteria in the same building feeds them all several meals a day.

Our next stop was to walk out the doors to the victory podium. Now I was seeing the canyon from the perspective of a Grand Prix winner. (Grand Prix winners gather at the top of the podium, Indianapolis 500 winners below.)

We sauntered into the adjacent building, the control tower. On the second floor, we visited where timing and scoring occurs. Special cameras monitor the cars as they zoom across the Yard of Bricks with each lap. We learned how special transponders on the cars (that’s what those antenna on the cars are for!) communicate with instruments in this room.

One corner is where broadcasts from IMS take place—another location seen on TV. A special inner room with glass windows is where three people responsible for monitoring and calling the scores hole up for the race.

In the control tower, we also saw corporate suites, where the lucky few can shell out money to watch the race in enclosed rooms overlooking the track. The suites go for $75,000 for 80 people for 15 days of festivities. A real bargain when you think about it, we were told. One hundred and twenty suites exist, but they had to create extra ones in 2016 for the 100th running of the race.

I was stuck on the idea that $75,000 is a bargain and then stunned by the realization that 75,000 x 120 is a heck of a lot of money when our guide relayed a story about Andrew Luck, the QB of the Indianapolis Colts. Apparently in 2016 Luck called to reserve a suite, but as luck would have it—sorry, I couldn’t resist—all suites had already been reserved. That was how the IMS came to construct additional corporate suites. It wouldn’t do to NOT have a corporate suite for Andrew Luck. (Of course, there was also a lot of money to be made.)

We meandered up to the tenth floor of the control tower to a different viewing suite—one for the sponsors of the race. With money, it seems, come benefits…and creature comforts.

We then rejoined the bus to putter through Gasoline Alley and the garage area. Many manufacturers and suppliers already had their names above the single garages in anticipation of the month of May. Special drivers (like four-time winners of the Indianapolis 500 Al Unser and A.J. Foyt) have their own offices with their names etched in the glass windows.

Afterwards we were let out at the front of the museum. The ninety minutes went by quickly. All through the tour, the guide outside of the bus and the recording of Derek Daley inside the bus gave us lots of interesting tidbits. In 1935 warning lights around the track were installed. In 2002, protective walling (SAFER barriers), developed at the University of Nebraska, was installed. A golf course—which I met by chance as I was looking for the IMS entrance—was built in 1929. Currently four holes exist inside the track (!) and 14 holes outside. The IMS fits 400,000 spectators (in the stands, suites, and infield). It is the largest sporting venue in the world.

I am glad that I ventured out on a cold—and what was ultimately rainy—day to tour the historic IMS—it’s on the Nation Register of Historic Places. I learned a lot of interesting facts, saw things I hadn’t before (or only on TV), and experienced bits of the IMS such as the Yard of Bricks that mere mortals normally do not. Right in time before the madness that is May in central Indiana…and before my next trip to watch the cars practice for the next Indianapolis 500.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum

Before The Greatest Month in Racing was set to commence, I found my way to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. While I grace many a museum, a museum dedicated to the Indianapolis 500 might seem like an odd outing for me.

I am not a car nut or a racing fan in particular. But I do like exploring, learning, and history. Since returning to Indiana, I have discovered the automotive history of the state and had the opportunity to be on the grounds of the IMS several times (for practice and Carb Day). It seemed fitting to round out my learning with a visit to the IMS Museum.

The first thing that struck me was that the IMS Museum is a big deal. Maybe it was more so being this close to May. (I visited the museum on April 30.) Or maybe not. (Only a subsequent visit at a different time of the year would tell.) Not everyone in the building was from the environs, Indiana, or even from the US. The museum and related tours were clearly a big business with teams of employees milling about, talking with visitors, and directing people to paid tours of the grounds.

I felt a bit overwhelmed and excited…like a kid that steps into a huge candy store, eyes large and excitement bubbling…which is kind of an odd feeling for someone who is not a self-proclaimed car nut or racing fan. Perhaps my visits to museums with historic cars had primed me to see something magical.

The museum has lots to see and take in. The first room is divided into cars that have raced in the Indianapolis 500 through the years and cars that A.J. Foyt, one of the legendary 4-time winners of the Indianapolis 500, drove in a seemingly endless string of races.

I started with the Indianapolis 500 cars. Each car has a plaque describing the car and its history. Several cars have engines behind them, showing off the different types of engines used in the Indianapolis 500. It was cool to see the cars all in one place and notice the differences over the years. As I saw in the other museums I have visited, the location of the driver varied in the earliest cars before settling on the present-day position on the left.

One thing I had to ask about: why some Indianapolis 500 cars had an extra seat for the mechanic. Originally mechanics drove with the drivers. Odd but OK. Someone had to be the eyes for the driver (before there were mirrors) and the hands (early cars used hand pumps to add gasoline to the engines). And of course, during a breakdown, it would be handy to have your mechanic in tow.

But strangely, the first car to win the Indianapolis 500 in 1911, the 1909 Marmon Wasp, was a one-seater. What’s the story behind that? Well, the driver got away without carrying a mechanic by using what seems to be the first rear-view mirror on a car. The authorities deemed that the driver would be safe enough with the mirror in lieu of a mechanic onboard. (In fact, on the bricks of the IMS track, the mirror bounced so much that it was in essence worthless.)

Unsurprisingly, without the extra weight of a mechanic, the 1909 Marmon Wasp won. I wonder how many people cried foul. Regardless of outcry or not, the rules subsequently changed; from 1912-1922 riding mechanics were mandatory. For reasons unclear to me, riding mechanics were optional from 1923-1929 and then mandatory again from 1930-1937.

On either side of the cars are glass displays that house memorabilia from past races, awards, and other odds and ends, such as bricks salvaged from the track during repairs and construction. On the back wall is a timeline of events in the history of the IMS along with photos. Remember my interest in history? This is probably where I spent most of my time in the museum, learning fascinating tidbits.

Although the first Indianapolis 500 ran in 1911, the track actually opened in 1909 and hosted three races that year. The first race was a gas-filled balloon race, the second a motorcycle race, and finally the third an automobile race. (Louis Schwitzer, whose mausoleum I often trek past in Crown Hill Cemetery, won this first 5-mile race on August 9, 1909. The museum only mentions Schwitzer in the backroom in connection to the award given in his name for design innovation.)

Other tidbits…helmets were required in 1935. (In contrast, the European Grand Prix didn’t require helmets until 1952.) The tradition of the winner drinking buttermilk started in 1936 with Louis Meyer (whose mother always told him that milk is best for quenching any thirst). In 1977, Janet Guthrie became the first women to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, and in 1999 Willy T. Ribbs the first African-American. In 2005, Danica Patrick was the first woman to lead a lap.

Across from Indianapolis 500 cars is a glass-enclosed room for A.J. Foyt and the cars he drove in the Indianapolis 500. Next to that room, out on the floor, are the many cars that he drove in various races. Three stood out to me: a USAC Midget, a 1987 Oldsmobile Aerotech, and a Scarab MK IV.

The Midget looked like a cute little zippy car. As I peered down into it, I didn’t see much in the way of floorboards. The driver was really one with the car, it seemed. The Oldsmobile Aerotech is a futuristic-looking car. In fact, in 1987 it was used to set a new world record of 257.133 mph. This is definitely not your father’s Oldsmobile (long before that motto came into existence). And the Scarab MK IV is a beautiful blue racing car.

The smaller back room houses some historic cars. I did like the 1929 Bugatti Type 35B that they have on display.

The back room also has a Rick Mears car that people can climb into to get their photos taken. I watched (older) person after (older) person climb in and have a devil of a time getting out. I was suspicious but found getting out not to be so bad. (Age, physical fitness, and good knees must have been in my favor.) I was struck by how the driver’s seat fits a person with much longer arms (I have long arms) and legs (I have long legs) than I have.

If you find yourself in Indy, include a stop at the IMS Museum. It’s for car or history buffs—or both. Just stay away in May, when the track is busy with The Greatest Month in Racing.

TV movie review: Hoosiers: The Story of Indiana—The 20th Century

Hoosiers: The Story of Indiana is a PBS documentary series based on the book by famous Indiana historian James H. Madison. The documentary series is split into four parts: Birth of a State, Split Rails to Steel Rails, The 20th Century, and The Next Indiana.

The 20th Century covers the period of time from after World War II to the present. The documentary is narrated by Madison and includes interviews with various people.

After World War II, Indiana was home to important car manufacturers, like Marmon, Stutz, and Duesenberg. Reliability runs to test and prove the technology going into cars started with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1911 and the initial win by the Marmon Wasp.

Cities thrived in Indiana. Indianapolis was one of the most modern cities. The Madame Walker Theatre was built on Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis—the Harlem of the Midwest. French Lick was a bustling party town with 30 hotels and 15 casinos—and with 12 trains arriving daily. Opera houses existed in small communities, like New Harmony.

Indiana was awash with creative talent: singers like Cole Porter from Peru and Hoagy Carmichael of Bloomington; poets, writers, and playwrights like James Whitcomb Riley, Theodore Dreiser, and Booth Tarkington; artists like William Forsythe, Otto Stark, William Scott, T.C. Steele, and Frank Dudley.

The beauty of the Dunes was recognized and protection sought, originally by a Saturday afternoon walking club that morphed into the Prairie Club of Chicago that morphed into the Save the Dunes movement. The state park was formed in 1926, but it took Dorothy Buell another 40 years of organizing before the National Lakeshore was established.

The documentary spends quite a bit of time on racism in Indiana during the 20th century for good reason. The narrator relates the 1930 lynching of two black men in Marion. James Cameron, who escaped lynching, wasn’t pardoned until 1993.

The KKK was in its second of three incarnations. (These incarnations included combating reconstruction in the south after the Civil War, moral decay of God and country in the 1920s, and civil rights in the 1960s). One of out four Hoosiers and half of the General Assembly were members of the Klan. (Makes me wonder what skeletons may be lurking in my white family closet.) Grand Wizard D.C. Stephenson, who boasted “I am the law in the state of Indiana”, was brought down by Madge Oberholtzer after he brutally attacked, raped, and cannibalized her. The heyday of the Klan in Indiana was over (and hopefully will stay over).

The Calumet Region (Northwest Indiana) was the last of the frontier in Indiana. In 1906, US Steel bought a seven-mile stretch along Lake Michigan and set out to build a city, Gary. The company sought to avoid the mistakes that Pullman made with the Pullman company town and the 1894 Pullman strike (which incidentally, Eugene Debs was involved in). Gary flourished. Workers came from all over. The Region became a melting pot with people from over 80 different ethnicities. However, with the Great Depression, efforts were made to repatriate Mexicans. Half of East Chicago and Gary were forced out. (Hopefully, history will not repeat itself today.)

Continuing its military participation, Hoosiers fought in the wars. In World War I, 3,000 died. In World War II, the number was 12,000.

After the Second World War, the Indiana economy flourished with all sorts of industries and manufacturing: band instruments (Elkhart), TVs (Bloomington), cars (Kokomo, Anderson, Muncie, and others), diesel engines (Columbus), RVs (Elkhart), and trucks (Fort Wayne). Most car companies were bought or went under by the 1930s. Studebaker in South Bend, which started with wagons, progressed to buggies, then ended with autos, was the exception, not folding until 1963. In the 1980s, Governor Mutz, by brokering a deal with Subaru, initiated a wave of car manufacturers moving back into Indiana.

The documentary circles back around to racism in the 1960s. Housing covenants kept blacks from buying houses in white neighborhoods. Robert Kennedy, campaigning in Indianapolis on April 4, 1968, announced Martin Luther King’s assassination to the crowd he was addressing. His words are credited with keeping calm in the city. Crispus Attucks, a black high school in Indianapolis, won the 1955 state basketball championship, the first for black school to do so. In 1971, the courts ordered that Indianapolis schools be integrated through busing students. Just last year, in 2015 the court reversed this order, claiming that integration had been achieved (!).

Gary, once such a flourishing, vibrant city with top-notch schools and cultural venues, has been crumbling for decades. Built to house workers for US Steel, its fortunes fell with the company’s fortunes. In 1968, Gary elected its first African-American mayor and the first black mayor of a major city, Richard Gordon Hatcher. He watched business disinvestment in Gary and white flight ensue.

The documentary then focuses on two family businesses in Indiana and how they have thrived through the generations: Phillips Patterns and Casting, Nick’s Building Supply-Door Wholesaler. These mini-perspectives show how the companies reinvented themselves in order to survive and thrive through the decades.

Last, the documentary looks at the preservation movement in Madison, an early vibrant town on the Ohio River. Like lots of Indiana towns, once manufacturing started to leave the US and Indiana, the towns became shells of their former selves. Madison started to tear down its decaying buildings, but some residents realized the treasures that they were destroying. A strong movement was born to preserve Madison’s physical history. And now Madison is a popular destination for its beautiful historical buildings and homes.

The documentary continues with a fourth part that looks at Indiana in the future.

Walking among the dead: Skeletons in the Closet, Part I

As part of the Music of the Night organ concerts, concertgoers are encouraged to stick around after the concert for a nighttime tour of the cemetery led by Tom Davis.

The full moon (or seemingly full moon) lit our way; we didn’t really need our flashlights. The moonlight cast an eerie light on the monuments, mausoleums, and tombstones blanketed in silence. Tom kept us on the road rather than meandering through the tombstones.

We stopped to visit several sites, and Tom peppered us with information about others nearby.

Test family plot
Skiles Test, son of a multimillion, was the subject of an urban legend. His house, referred to as The House of Blue Lights, was reputed to be haunted. Why? Well, after his wife died in the 1950s, he kept her in a glass casket in the house.

Actually, there was no glass casket on the property. And his three wives all outlived him. But the house sounds really cool, lit with blue lights that reflected off of the first solar-powered swimming pool. Unfortunately, the house has been torn down and the property turned into a public park.

Achey family plot
The Achey family plot contains unmarked graves, an attempt to keep the exact location of John Achey’s gravesite secret. Upon the death of his mother, John came into $5,000 (a lot of money in the 1870s). He used the money to pay for the funeral and burial of his mother and for a bride for himself. The rest he used to finance a gambler for a particular game. The gambler was doing poorly, and John pulled his remaining money from the game. The gambler’s luck turned around and he left the game with $5,000. Later feeling cheated out of money, John shot and killed his gambler acquaintance, and ended up with the dubious distinction of being the first of two men hung in Indianapolis.

English family plot
Why does one tombstone on the English plot read “Mother of Rosalind” rather than the woman’s name? In short because Helen Orr Hufnall Phaff English Wegmann English English Prince Prince would have been too long to carve onto a tombstone. Tom walked us through Helen’s numerous marriages and divorces, often to the same man (same Mr. English, same Mr. Prince). She is buried with her daughter in the English family plot but died as the wife of Frank J. Prince, the Indianapolis journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for his work linking Republican city and state officials to the KKK in the 1920s.

May Wright Sewall
We stopped near Sewall’s tomb to discuss her connections to spiritualism, séances, and communication with the dead (rather than focusing on her role in the suffrage and women’s rights movements). She apparently learned to play the piano after her dead husband hooked her up with a deceased piano teacher.

James Whitcomb Riley
Our final stop was the Crown. Under a full moon and clear skies, Riley’s tomb offered a wonderful view of the downtown lit up.

As we walked down the hill, Tom regaled us with stories of other famous people buried on the hill, such as the Fortune family, who was related to the Eli Lilly family through marriage, or Louis Schwitzer, who won the first race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (a five-mile two lap race—what I like to think of as the Indy 2) in 1909.

I’ve wandered through the cemetery many times, sometimes searching for graves of famous people, other times enjoying a stroll through the 25 miles of road that meander through sections littered with trees. Seeing the cemetery under a full moon was definitely a treat and not something that is often possible. For those who enjoy poking around cemeteries, I encourage you, if given the chance, to take in a tour of the cemetery, especially a moonlit one.

Walking among the dead: 200 Years of Fascinating Hoosiers

Perhaps touring cemeteries is not everyone’s cup of tea, but you can glean bits of history about your community and state from the silent tombstones in cemeteries. Especially in larger cemeteries, like Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.

Crown Hill was incorporated in 1863 and had its first burial in June 1864 (Lucy Ann Seaton). The 555-acre cemetery is the third largest non-government cemetery in the US. The cemetery grounds are open to the public for walking, biking, and yes, even picnicking. (A family plot near the Crown has a stone picnic bench to encourage this pastime that was historically done at the Crown before the cemetery existed.)

I often visit the cemetery to look for tombstones and family plots of famous people who I have encountered in my explorations around Indianapolis and the state. Sometimes I go out simply for a leisurely, prolonged walk among the peaceful roads and under the trees. I recently went on my first official tour of the cemetery: Two Hundred Years of Fascinating Hoosiers.

Understandably, the tour could not hit even a fraction of famous Hoosiers. (And what is famous for one person may not be for others. I am still on my quest to find two early important African American doctors in the huge African American section of the cemetery.) This tour focused on about a dozen people mostly concentrated in a particular section of the cemetery.

Some I knew. Some I didn’t. (Oooh. New people to research and learn about!) Some stories I knew. Some I had never heard (and wondered if they were apocraphyal…like Carl Fisher promoting his car dealership—the first—by floating a car sans engine overhead suspended from a hot-air balloon).

The Crown Hill Heritage Foundation, formed in 1984 to preserve the cemetery and its history, provides tours for a small fee ($5). The docent for my tour, Tom Davis, was quite knowledgeable about the cemetery and Indiana history.

Although we only stopped by a dozen or so graves, Tom peppered conversation about others buried in the cemetery as we walked from grave to grave. After seeing Paul Hadley’s grave with the newly installed flagpole flying the Indiana state flag (Hadley designed the state flag), Tom pointed out that many members of the Hoosier Group are buried in the cemetery. (Mental note: I’ll need to come back to see their gravesites.)

Two revolutionary soldiers are buried in the cemetery. (Another mental note to self.) Eleven Indiana governors, one Kentucky governor, and one Vermont governor are buried here. (Another mental note to self.) David Letterman’s dad is buried here; he comes to visit, but sporadically enough that he doesn’t always remember exactly where the gravesite is (and wanders around the section where his dad is buried calling out “Dad!”).

So whose burial sites did we see?

Paul Hadley (1880-1971)
Hadley created the state flag that was adopted in 1916. He was a resident of Mooresville and an artist (stained glass, watercolor painting).

Robert Hanna (1786-1858)
Hanna was a delegate to the 1816 Corydon convention (that led to the creation of Indiana) and a signer of the first Indiana constitution. He was originally buried elsewhere and then reburied in Crown Hill without a headstone. Recently a headstone was created and three elm trees planted around his burial site. (The Indiana constitution was signed under an elm tree, which inauspiciously died in 1925.)

Tom relayed the story of Hanna being the first and only person ever to take a steamboat up the White River, a river that was presumed to be unnavigable. He got the steamboat up the river (during high water levels) but then it proceeded to get stuck up river until the water levels rose again.

The numerous waterways in the state were replaced as the mode of transportation with the arrival of the railroad. Ironically, Hanna, the man who navigated the unnavigable White River, died after being hit by a train.

Eliza Blaker (1854-1926)
Blaker was an advocate of early childhood education, setting up kindergartens and then schools for teachers. Her school at 23rd and Alabama became what is now Butler University.

Tom shared how Eliza’s husband, who worked downtown, would walk her to and from the school every day, carrying her schoolbooks.

Jacob Dunn (1855-1924)
Dunn was a historian, author, and reformer. He was responsible for the secret ballot that we use in voting. And he was involved in the Indiana State Library and public libraries.

Booth Tarkington (1869-1946)
Technically named Newton Booth, Tarkington won Pulitzer prizes for two books that he wrote. He also was well-known for the numerous Broadway plays that he wrote, some of which ran simultaneously.

Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901)
President. Harrison is the only US President buried in the cemetery. He lies with his first wife, son, daughter, and second wife (who was the niece of his first wife).

Oscar McCulloch (1843-1891)
McCulloch was a pastor who originally believed in social Darwinism and that people were poor by genetics (!). (The latter belief is what led to the eugenics movement. Not a good period in Indiana or American history.) He later believed that it was possible to help the poor.

The McCulloch plot is shared with the Reynolds family. According to cemetery records, two of their dogs are buried in unmarked graves (Don and Rab). This was against cemetery rules but Reynolds was on the board, illustrating the age-old truth: if you are in power, the rules don’t apply to you.

Carl Fisher (1874-1939)
Crazy Carl Fisher is best known as the man who started the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a proving ground for testing cars. He began selling bikes with crazy promotional tactics and then moved on to selling cars (at the first car dealership) with crazy promotional tactics.

One tactic he used was suspending a car sans engine from a hot air balloon. As the story goes, Jane Watts saw him floating overhead and said, “I am going to marry that man!” (Jane was the first of several wives.)

Fisher was instrumental behind the trans-US Lincoln Highway, which ran from NYC to the West Coast. Fisher was also responsible for developing what is now Miami Beach and getting a highway built from Chicago to Miami Beach.

May Wright Sewall (1844-1920)
Sewall was a well-known reformer in education, women’s rights, and the suffrage movement. Interestingly, she and her husband were not religious but during her later years she became involved in spiritualism and wrote Neither Dead Nor Sleeping. Before her husband died, he told her that if he discovered that Jesus was real, he would find a way to tell her from the grave. A medium did repeat his words back to May and May became involved with communicating with the dead.

Eli Lilly (1838-1898)
The Lilly mausoleum houses a number of the Lilly family with others in nearby plots. Eli himself was a colonel in the Union Army and the founder of present-day Eli Lilly and Company. His mausoleum is a bit unusual as you can see into it and read the engravings on each slot where a casket lays.

James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916)
Riley, the beloved Hoosier poet of the late 19th century/early 20th century was laid to rest on the Crown, the highest spot in the original city limits (842 feet above sea level). He passed away July 22, but his remains were kept in the Gothic Chapel on the grounds until his final spot on the Crown was ready in October the following year.

We actually visited his site the day after the anniversary of his burial. His resting place was adorned with wreathes from a school group that visited on the anniversary of his burial. Of course, his headstone was covered with coins, a tradition started after his death by children who collected coins to help pay for his burial. These days any coins left on his tomb are gathered and given to the children’s hospital that boasts his name.

The view from his tomb overlooks the city. As our tour ended, we watched the sun set over the tree line.

The tour whetted my appetite to spend more hours wondering the cemetery grounds. I had picked up lists of famous people buried there, lists of the different trees growing on the grounds, and maps for both. I will be back. If not for more tours, then for self-guided wanderings among the dead.