ioof cemetery (coburg)
“I told him, you can’t fire a volunteer; and if you make them mad, they’ll quit.”

He was a middle-aged man with four days stubble and a plaid shirt. He’d arrived while I wandered the cemetery, and as he was leaving, he stuck his head out his car window and asked me if I was finding what I was looking for?

I told him I was finding more than I was looking for; and with that he hopped out of his car and came over to chat.

“It’s me and another guy, we take care of it. Nobody complains. Oh, sometimes they complain about the grass clippings blowing over their loved ones’ tombstones, but I say, hey, come on down and volunteer, if you want it done someway else. And you know? Sometimes they do.”

As cemeteries go, 1882 is young for an Odd Fellows endeavor; and at three acres it’s not terribly large, but it’s a pleasant diversion. It’s main drawback is that it backs nearly onto I-5, and the traffic noises are constant. It takes seven hours to mow the entire graveyard, and at that they don’t always cut the very back, which, according to our volunteer, used to be an entirely different, older cemetery. Railroad tracks separate the defunct cemetery from I-5, and it is rumored that during epidemics the dead were hauled out there on train cars and buried in large common graves. The rumors go on to suggest that the old cemetery was used as a pauper’s field, as well.

Many of the individual plots are planted with bulbs, which are also a gift from the volunteers.

“I go down to the plant store in the fall, when they sell big bags of daffodil bulbs for twenty bucks. I tell them it’s for the cemetery and they go ‘OOO,’ and give me a discount. I only get plants the deer won’t eat. They won’t eat daffodils.”

The IOOF still holds title to the cemetery and they’ve offered to help pay with the costs.

“I told them I didn’t ask you for money.” It’s the Odd Fellows that he told you can’t fire a volunteer.

Although Coburg sounds like it was named after an Ohio businessman, it was reputedly named after a horse. It’s always lusted after being a suburban Jacksonville, and it seems to be having its wish come true.
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