John Cabell Breckinridge

(Originally visited 4 April 2005. The puppy mentioned below celebrated her 10th birthday this past weekend.)

John Breckinridge

We left the Frankfort grave of Richard Mentor Johnson and took a short but scenic route into Lexington. We did this despite knowing that there was a bridge out in between our car and The Lexington Cemetery.

Besides the beautiful rolling hills on a sunny spring day the thing we noticed first was how the apparent wealth of the landowners shifted dramatically at the county borders. On one side we saw large houses with vast lawns of manicured grass and on the other were shacks with broken toilets on the front porch.

The gap between the rich and poor has been widening in this country for the past generation but the county line is still as narrow as ever.

We found the detour at the Route 4 ring road. Trusting our not too detailed map we quickly abandoned the authorized detour and struck out on our own tour of north Lexington. I’m sure is was a little more colorful that they wanted us to experience, but we easily navigated to the cemetery.

Henry Clay’s monument dominates the entrance, rising high about tree tops. One of the cemetery employees gave me an informative pamphlet with a map which lead us right to Vice President Breckinridge’s grave.

John Breckinridge

What makes Lexington’s cemetery superior to Frankfort’s is that they allow dogs to visit as long as they are leashed. Since this was the last grave of the trip, we took Ceiba on a nice walk around the graves. She loved it.

My fiancée feigned annoyance at her puppy’s love of cemeteries. At least I hope she was feigning. She called Ceiba “her father’s daughter”.

It reminded me of a story my grandmother tells. My grandfather is a genealogist. Much of the work in my Dead Ancestors Collection is based on his original research over the past several decades. When they were young parents they would visit rural Indiana cemeteries to record gravestone information and they would bring their first-born son, my uncle, who was still a toddler.

For my uncle’s first birthday, his grandfather gave him some homemade wooden building blocks. Instead of building a little house or a tower of blocks or something normal, my uncle laid out the blocks in nice neat rows as though they were headstones.

My grandmother was not pleased.

Now my fiancée finds herself in similar circumstances, though I strongly object to being called Ceiba’s father. I am not her father. I have met her father, Ch. Janizona’s Hero by Homespun, and I do not claim his honor.

Though I must admit that I felt some paternal pride as she was romping through these Kentucky cemeteries with me.



About Bartholomew Barker

Bartholomew Barker is one of the organizers of Living Poetry, a collection of poets and poetry lovers in the Triangle region of North Carolina. Born and raised in Ohio, studied in Chicago, he worked in Connecticut for nearly twenty years before moving to Hillsborough where he makes money as a computer programmer to fund his poetry habit.
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