Article & photo by Kenita Gibbins
The Lady in the Cemetery
I no longer know what is truth and what I conjure up in my imagination. When I was seven or eight, the story of the lovely lady monument in Oak Park Cemetery in Chandler, Oklahoma, made me want to stay away from the very pretty graveyard. The tale as I remember involved a young girl dying at the foot of the statue late at night when the moon was full. She had come to the tombstone to honor the deceased and had been stung by a scorpion. I went through my entire adolescence fearing this one site.
As I grew older I started to be interested in the lady statue in the cemetery because she sometimes held a flower across her arms. No one seemed to know why the various flowers appeared or who placed them. It just happened for as long as I can remember, and even as long as my mother could remember. Suddenly there were no more flowers!
When I went back to my hometown for a funeral in the spring of 2016, I noticed the lady had a flower again. No one at the graveside service knew why. I still don’t know if the flowers are in honor of the lady of the monument or the girl who I think died at her feet.
My spirit of inquiry will not go away, It is not all my imagination.
The Second Story I Couldn’t get Right
I had taken a creative writing class at Emily Griffith Opportunity School. Our teacher Yvonne Tessler did a great job stirring up our critical thinking. I swear she told us a story about Mary Coyle Chase and her character “Harvey” the six-foot-rabbit from the Broadway play of the same name. Yvonne told us Mary Chase died in 1981 at the age of 75 and was buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Denver, Colorado. Yvonne went on to tell us that Harvey was buried behind her. The picture in my head had Mrs. Chase buried under a nice sized headstone and behind her in a corner was Harvey’s small grave marker. Both graves had a very nice little, short picket fence around them.
Years later I drove past Crown Hill, turned my car around and went to find Mary Chase’s grave. The information desk clerk couldn’t find the exact site, but described where she thought it was. I drove ’round and ’round. The next day I went back to the office with Mary’s full name and date of her death and asked for a map. Wikipedia information saved me. The receptionist found the location. I located two rather nondescript grave markers with the names of Mary and Robert Chase. I looked and looked for Harvey’s little marker and found nothing. I didn’t even see a rabbit hopping.
I decided to get down lower and take a picture since I had gone to so much trouble. I was astonished to see a marker sticking up behind Mr. and Mrs. Chase. In carved, bold letters I saw HARVEY. The Harvey family had been buried behind the Chases.
Yes, I will continue to tell stories of Crown Hill and Oak Park resting grounds. As to what my mind conjures up, I just don’t know. I have no control.