taft pioneer cemetery
Quite simply put, an enormously awesome panorama. Other cemeteries promise an ocean view, but this one delivers, and delivers and delivers. Long after your mind screams, stop, I can’t take any more, the horizon sails on to the end of the earth. If you squint hard, you might see Hawaii. There are no trees, no bushes, no hummocks, no dunes, nothing between you and an endless expanse of sky and sea. The hill upon which the cemetery climbs is high enough that even Hwy. 101 and the Inn at Spanish Head shrink beneath ones feet. Pray to God that the wind doesn’t blow, because when it does, you’ll know why all the trees sweep back towards the mountains and bare their teeth to the gale. Try to visit here on a nice day, because it is exposed.

And be prepared to spend some time, as the grave markers keep pace with the prospect. Large, small, extravagant, or modest. each is more wonderful than the next.

Once you’re able to tear yourself away from the view, you’ll first be struck by the two “altars” built to commemorate the Fletchers: one for Herbert (1901-1991) and Stella (1900-1989), and one for, presumably, a grandchild, Colleen (1955-1992). The altars—one surmounted by a cross, the other by a statue of the Virgin—for some reason look Portuguese to me, although the ancestral Fletcher certainly made his arrows in an English speaking country. All the more interesting is that Colleen was a sergeant in the U.S. Air Force during Vietnam and is memorialized on the monument with a photo-ceramic of her in military headgear. She appears to never have married.

The Fletchers’ extravagances might catch the eye first, but the more one pokes around the ground, the more one finds, including a large number of handmade markers: a hand-cast and painted coastal scene complete with pelican; a blue mosaic sunset guarded by broken bricks; a simple wooden cross carved with the deceased’s name; a three-part marker honoring two male friends from Wisconsin; handmade and painted tiles surrounded by crushed white rock and blue boards; and the ubiquitous pvc-pipe cross.

There’s more; you’ll have to go find out for yourself.

Now, if they can only turn the Inn at Spanish Head into a hospice operation…

Directions:

Turn east of SE 40th St. off Hwy 101 in Taft., which is a couple miles south of Lincoln City. Fortieth St. is opposite the Inn at Spanish Head. The cemetery is at the end of the street.
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