cemeetry

HEADSTONES
By David Allen

I’m torn on the idea of graveyards.
Oh, I’d roam through them as shortcuts
And use them as playgrounds as a kid;
They were great for hide and seek.
Much later, I thought they were
Fitting reminders of those who came before us;
Some who died in battle,
Testaments to lives, lived and lost.
But for family grave plots?
Maybe for a generation or two
Some relatives or descendants  
Would place flowers, say a prayer,
Or maybe just meditate on memories.
But, what then? As the generations pass
How many headstones are forgotten?
How many graveyards abandoned?

Let me tell you about one.
Headstones were discovered not so long ago
Stacked against a fence in the backyard of a home
In Great Neck, Long Island,
A place settled by Allens in the late 1600s.
On what was then called Madnan’s Neck.
(Mad Nan was an earlier settler
Who struck her family and friends as a bit loopy.)

The headstones were in a small family graveyard
Started sometime by Daniel Allen in the early 1800s.
In 1938, his great-nephew died and left $500
For the upkeep of the cemetery.
The money was never used.
The family moved on,
Spreading throughout Long Island and points west.
The headstones stood alone and lonely
Then a subdivision fenced the cemetery
Into a small triangle between two backyards.
Sometime early this century the headstones were moved
To make room for a new shed and swing set.

News accounts are not clear on how
The headstones were rediscovered.
But studies of old records were made
And a search of the nearby grounds
Unearthed seven crumbling caskets
Forgotten during the busy decades
Since their, no-doubt, well attended funerals.
They were moved to a corner lot
And reclaimed by the town.

It might be interesting to visit one day,
Out of curiosity.
I am torn. I didn’t know the interred;
I heard no family stories about them.
And why should it matter?
Maybe a part of them lies within me
Perhaps that’s the only memorial
That really counts.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

From the Great Neck Record:

Cemetery Project to Move Forward
May 24, 2014

There’s renewed hope that plans for the restoration and preservation of the Allen Cemetery, a 20-foot by 10-foot abandoned property nextled between the backyards of two homes on Pearce Place in Great Neck Plaza can soon move forward. ed property nestled between the backyards of two homes on Pearce Place in Great Neck Plaza can soon move forward. 

The optimism for the project’s completion came from the Town of North Hempstead’s historian Howard Kroplick during his appearance last week as a guest of the Great Neck Historical Society. “We’re going to be meeting with the Great Neck Plaza people, probably, within the next month,” said Kroplick, “and really come up with a plan. We’ve been working with them for about a year-and-a-half.”

“We’ve been working not only with the Plaza but with the Great Neck Historical Society on it, and with the Allen family, too,” he added. “We had to get all of our legal documents together.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s