Friday, May 10, 2013

17972. Strangers Corner


I took my own bait. I visited Hull, my hometown, and began touring a cemetery of which I give tours from time to time. Usually to kids. Usually on Halloween. Usually in the dark. It's freakier that way.

So I know the folks here well, or at least many of them. There are some of whom I know nothing at all, because it's impossible to do so. Hull was a town of shipwrecks, an incongruous stretch of sand jutting menacingly into Massachusetts Bay, forming a southern boundary against approaching ships - be they friendly or enemy - and causing many of them to wreck; or, at least, offering them a convenient place to do so. Hull's lifesavers became nationally famous in the 1800s, because they had so many lives to save.

Oftentimes, when ships wrecked they left behind entire crews with naught but their skin and clothes to identify them. A tattoo here, a seawater-soaked letter stuck in a pocket there, might be all there was to make an identification. Many, like here at Strangers Corner, never had such luck: "Interred herein are approximately 100 men, women and children known only to god. Victims of shipwrecks on our shores, nearby islands and shoals, from 1860 to 1898." Thank the Hull Historical Society for its placement.

I could go on about this stone and the stories connected with it, of nude Swedes, of vampires, of premature burial, but do yourself a favor: catch my tour.

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