El Campo cemetery, San Diego

El Campo cemetery in the old town, San Diego

My nomadic ancestors have graves all over the world but I recently found out that some of them settled in San Diego as early pioneers.  This provoked my recent visit to San Diego.  Leaving the airport, I had a very personable Uber driver who took me to my hotel in the Gaslamp area, to drop my bag, and then straight to the oldest cemetery in San Diego, El Campo.  It is situated in what was once the old town and now has a replica pioneer town.  At first I was surprised at how small and basic the cemetery was but there was something haunting about the simple stone markers and recent wooden stakes.  Much of the cemetery was taken over when a new railroad was built and many of the residents were re interred in a different part of the city.

This plaque is in remembrance of my great-great-great grandfather Jesse or Julian Ames, a pioneer from Connecticut.  His daughter Matilda is my direct link to this very large family.  The Ames family has a very large family get-together every year – perhaps I will ask for an invitation?  He was born in 1807 and died in 1866.

This is the grave of my other great-great-great grandfather, Juan Maria Marron who was born in 1808 or 1809.  From researching historical records there were many people with very similar names born at the same time in San Diego.  The re interred graves caused some more confusion but my ancestors are there somewhere and more importantly their spirits live in the modern city of San Diego.   Juan and Julian’s children married and are my great-great grandparents.

Grave of an Indian Maiden

Of all the graves I looked at, this grave of an Indian maiden pulled at my heartstrings.  Did she die of a European plague such as smallpox or flu?  Or perhaps life was just harsh back in those days.  So many women died in childbirth although I think referencing her as a maiden means that she was without children.  Then my mind wandered to my Mestizo heritage.  Was this a maiden taken from Mexico or a local native?  Cemeteries are so interesting, especially if you have a personal link.  In those days, San Diego would have been paradise, good weather, fine farming and seas full of fish.

Zombies!!!

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I can’t take any more beautiful, tasteful, upscale, divine, sensational words in my paid job and need a bit of gore! This is a teaser for next week’s Walking Dead theme and regular addicts will know that this is the last time I can mention the Z word. I might talk about Roamers, Walkers or Lurkers but not the unmentionable. The Undead have fascinated me every since my crazy mum would frighten me with tales of Voodoo from when she visited Louisiana. She believed they were real but she also believed in fairies – enough said.

When I was young she would wait at the top of the stairs and then jump out at me snarling with witch fingers. She swears that I would beg her to do it. I do remember my Great Aunt Frances scaring me by taking her false teeth out and chasing me around the bedroom. Curiously, I love to hide behind doors and scare our poor elderly cats. Genetics are amazing aren’t they? I am howling with laughter as I write this with Addams family memories.

As a teenager, my best friend and I would go to see Zombie movies at the cinema. They weren’t as popular back then and one infamous occasion there was one showing at a seedy cinema called the Classic Grand – usually referred to as the Classic Gland because of the type of movies it showed. We naively thought we were just seeing the Zombie movie but it was the B movie. For young people reading this – in olde tymes you saw two movies at once with an interval in between.

The A movie started and it was a really bad but tame porn movie. Suddenly we noticed that we were the only women in the cinema and the men were all alone in different rows. It’s not a cliche – they were all wearing trench-coats that probably gave easy access to some fiddling about down there. They were getting a twofer because not only were there pretty young girls on the screen but there were two stupid but pretty girls giggling in front of them.

I don’t know if my friend still loves Zombie movies but this incident did not put me off and I love anything Undead…