River world exploration: visiting the cemetery

Saturday was a warm and sunny day. I decided to walk to the cemetery, where my dad has been buried. It has been almost four years since he passed away. Sometimes, it seems like yesterday and, sometimes, it seems as if he had been gone for years and years. I chose to take the “scenic route,” along the river so that I could see life and joy out on the water.

I left the house and headed toward the river. The flowers were still blooming, despite the drought. A mile later, and I was at the river. The water looked very placid, reflecting the radiant blueness of the sky.

Saturday morning on the Niagara River.

Toy parking area.

Sunflowers growing along the side of the road.

attracting bees.

Relaxation spot for families of ducks.

There are many docks along the river. I once had a gardening customer who lived in a house across the street from the river. She had a boathouse and a dock on the other side of the street. She was not in the best of health so she had a home health aide who helped out around the house and monitored the lady’s medication. She took a large number of prescriptions. Anyway, as turned out, despite having lived near the river for many years, my customer never learned how to swim. One day, the home health aide told me that there was a tipped over flower pot at the end of the dock. She said, “Do you know how to swim?” “Yes,” I said. She asked me to take care of the flower pot because, like her patient, the home health aide also had never learned how to swim. Both of them were afraid that they would fall in the water. It was a hot day. I was hoping to fall in the water, but it didn’t happen.

Unfortunately, the home health aide had to retire because she was in poor health. My customer had a terrible fall three years ago and passed away. She was described as a “great character.” She was born in the same year as Queen Elizabeth II, but “my hats aren’t as good,” she told me. She was buried in the same cemetery as my dad.

See that smokestack in the water? That is all you can see of a ship called the Corona. The ship burned at the pier at Edgewater on November 18, 1898. The smokestack still juts out of the water. The pier, however, is mostly gone. There are a few pieces left in the water.

The ship was a “sidewheeler.” It transported people from the mainland to a hotel, called the Edgewater Park Hotel. There was also a park there, sort of like an amusement park. It had a bowling alley. Activities at the park including something called a “razzle dazzle,” a carousel, a ferris wheel, and more. People came with large groups, such as church and civic groups, and held picnics and parties at Edgewater. The amusement park was closed in the 1940s, and the hotel was closed to overnight guests. It continued to operate as a restaurant until 1974, when the building collapsed. For more detail about the Edgewater Park Hotel and the amusement part, take a look at the page that’s marked below as “Edgewater.”

Gun Creek, near the Niagara River. Gun Creek is one of several tributaries of the Niagara River located in Grand Island.

On my way to the cemetery, I stopped at the home of Jim and Trudy, who gave me a glass of water and showed me some of the plants in their back yard. 

Closeup of the flower.

I’ve arrived at the cemetery. This is the Whitehaven Cemetery, and it dates back to 1865. This is one of two planters that are part of my dad’s gravesite.

Some of the people buried at the cemetery never had much of a chance to experience life.

John Nice was Grand Island’s first town supervisor. He was originally from Bavaria. Grand Island had previously been considered a part of other towns. In 1822, Grand Island was part of the Town of Buffalo. By 1836, Grand Island was considered to be part of the Town of Tonawanda. Before Grand Island was incorporated as a town, it was known as a collection of separate towns, including Grand Island, Whitehaven, Buckhorn, and Beaver Island. The cemetery is one of the last reminders of the town of Whitehaven. 

One of the key features of Whitehaven was a sawmill. The sawmill processed white oak that were to be made into masts for ships. The company that owned this sawmill, which included a saw described as the largest steam-powered saw of its time, was the East Boston Company. It purchased 16,000 aces for five dollars per acre, and then it engaged in clear cutting the slow growing white oak trees. The removal of these trees was a tragic loss for Grand Island. In recent years, white oak have been planted in various town parks and along right of ways. It will be a number of years before these trees are big enough to provide shade.

Spicer Creek is another one of Grand Island’s tributaries. Here is a bird sitting on a log in the water. I’m thinking that this bird might be some sort of heron?

Sunflowers along East River Road.

It was a lovely summer day. The water was full of boats of all varieties. People were outside working in their gardens. As I was walking, I saw Daryl, who was trying to dig up some crabgrass that had taken over a good chunk of his lawn. The grass had become brown, due to long-lasting drought, and the opportunistic crab grass took over. I saw other people, getting ready for barbecues and parties. Everyone looked happy.

It was a good day to walk to the cemetery. It was good to see so much life on the route. It was a good adventure.

How do you go about remembering a loved one who has passed away?

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