Grave Situation

Ashley and Kathryn paid us a visit beginning Sunday night. I thought they were going to stay until tomorrow but they wanted to get back to see his half-sister who is ill.

We laughed and ate dinner on Sunday, chicken pesto (I had tofu), new potatoes, and asparagus with lemon ice and cookies for dessert.

On Monday we journeyed to Saybrook where we spent five hours mostly getting blown around by the wind as Ash shot film for the documentary about Mother. He captured the seagulls hunkered down facing the wind and swooping around the Dock ‘N’ Dine. Kathryn and I took a short walk up past the fast food shack that used to be Clark’s Fish Market and past the Inne at Saybrook Pointe.

That’s not its real name, but the place used to be a semi-grubby “boatel.” Now the rooms go for $300 to $400 a night, and that’s in the off season when you can’t even dock your boat. Well, I guess you could, but there wouldn’t be much of anyone to care for it.

Then we walked up to the fort and train junction where Ash immortalized ol’ Indian killer Lion Gardiner looking out toward his island. He’s looking awfully green these days. Then we visited the cemetery where my grandparents and various other relatives are buried. Kathryn and I found the grave of Rose Jackson, the one that so infuriated my mother because it was segregated from the other graves and facing away from them. What we discovered was that mother had indulged in a bit of creative license. Rose Jackson’s grave is indeed facing away from the others around it, but it has the best of things with an unobstructed view of the South Cove. Also there are other graves around it besides the small pox victims and Indians.

Phillis Jackson, who was seventeen years older and also a slave of the Hart family rests next to Rose. We decided they were probably Mother and daughter. Phillis’s grave had been repaired within the past several years with three metal plates bolted into the marble. Next to Phillis is a stone for someone named Ransom. I have no idea who he was.

A bit later I discovered that the cemetery association had planted a tree in memory of Margaret Gilbert for all of her work to maintain the place over the years. She was a terrific lady – a great friend of my mother’s, one of those old Yankees who could do just about anything she turned her hand to. Continued to garden, shovel her own walk, etc. until she was about ninety and the family moved in one of the grandsons to keep an eye on things. It broke Mother’s heart when she died.

We came out of the cemetery, and Ash filmed the Yale College stone. It’s truly amazing what happens when one looks at a familiar object after a long absence. I noticed for the first time that the marker, which commemorates the founding of Yale College, never mentions the destination to which the school “removed” after it left Saybrook. As we were waiting for him to finish, a woman walked by, stopped, and did a double take.


“Yes.” I thought I recognized her but I wasn’t sure.

“It’s Dawn.” It was my high school classmate Dawn Rochette, now O’Dell. We’ve friended on Facebook but haven’t seen each other in person in years. So we had a mini-reunion right there on the sidewalk. She looks great, still has family in the area, works locally. We promised to get together for lunch. She confirmed for me that Kathryn should satisfy her desire for a lobster roll at Lenny & Joe’s Fishtale.

We made a quick trip to Westbrook where we lunched on extraordinary portions of good food: lobster roll (Kathryn), clam roll (Ash), crab cake (me), all served with coleslaw made to perfection with almost no mayonnaise, lots of carrot and purple cabbage, and just the right flavor.

Afterward we drove back to Saybrook so Ash could finish up in the late afternoon light. It was blowing worse and getting colder because the sun was setting. My California cousins are not used to cold so while we saw folks in shorts and T-shirts, they sported hats, heavy coats, gloves, scarfs, etc. For me it was light jacket and baseball cap, the latter to keep the sun out of my eyes. We tried catch some sun-going down shots on the way home, but between the angle of the sun and my nervousness about getting rear-ended because Ash said I had to drive at 4 mph, we did not succeed.

Ran back to home, where I finished making the jambalaya (See “Jammin’ Jambalaya”), which I served with salad made superior by exotic California orange vinegar that Kathryn and Ash brought. The rest of the meal consisted of fresh Italian bread served with California olive oil, also provided by our guests, followed by lemon ice and cookies.

To be continued …

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