Saturday, Dad and I made a quick run down to Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, on 111th Street outside the city, to visit some family graves (my mom, my brother, an uncle, my grandparents; there’s a bunch more of them out there we didn’t have time to see this time).
Then we went over to Oak Woods Cemetery, at 67th Street (Marquette Road) and Cottage Grove Avenue. Among reasons I might want to visit this place is the fact–I think it’s a fact–that Confederate prisoners from the Civil War prison at Camp Douglas are buried there. But what drew us yesterday was the presence of a future grave: that of “Senator” Roland Burris. Among the many quirks that distinguish him is that he has already had an elaborate memorial set up at Oak Woods. Maybe that’s not so quirky, but the listing of items from his curriculum vitae–for instance, that he was the first African American exchange student from Southern Illinois University to the University of Hamburg, Germany–has struck many observers as a little odd.
One wants to see for one’s self, so we went down to Oak Woods to take in the sight. We pulled up to the gate at 4:10 p.m. to find the entrance gate closed and a sign saying the grounds closed at 4:15. The exit gate was open, though, so I drove in only to be stopped by a caretaker who said, “Closed 4:15!” “We’ll be out in five minutes, I promise. By the way, which way to Senator Burris’s memorial?” We got the simple directions (take a hard right once inside the gate, then the first left, and it’s about 100 yards away, straight in front of you). We didn’t have time to savor the scene. Just a few quick shots of the Burris gravesite and one of the resting place of Olympic great Jesse Owens, whose stone is across the drive on the bank of the cemetery’s pond. Then back to the gate, as promised. “Did you see Harold Washington’s grave?” the caretaker asked. “No — we have to come back,” I said.
Next trip to Chicago, maybe.