A couple years ago, Virgie Smith's fight to bring the body of her daughter, Anna Nicole Smith, back to their home town for burial seemed kind of excessive to many. The truth is, Virgie wasn't, and isn't, the only Texan who puts a startling amount of store in where her relatives are buried: it seems to this newcomer that burials in general are a statewide obsession.
For instance, I'm pretty sure that the 7,956 living people in McCulloch County, Texas, are outnumbered by graves in the (at least) 26 cemeteries scattered over the county's 1,073 square miles. Maybe this is normal for middle America in general, but it sure isn't the case in the areas from which I come.
Without doing a lot of research, I'm going to guess that the phenomenon is tied into a couple of other statistics. (1) Fifty percent of Texans live within 50 miles of their birthplace. (2) Mason County, Texas, which is next door to McCulloch County and probably is representative of both, boasts a population that is 85 percent Texas-born.
It doesn't make much sense to invest the time and money in a real dirt-type funeral if you aren't sure you will be in the same town two years down the pike. Leaving a lonely grave far behind seems more sad than having your loved one cremated and scattered.
Celebrating birthdays today: Bobby Fischer (1943, Chicago), Mickey Spillane (1918, Brooklyn).
Saints celebrating feast days today include Saint Catherine of Bologna (patron saint of artists), Saint Frances of Rome, Saint Bosa, Saint Anthony, and Saint Pacian.