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Sunday, August 5, 2012

I Look for America

"They've all gone to look for America
All gone to look for America
All gone to look for America"

(Paul Simon, America)

In the last three weeks I have driven over 4000 miles back and forth across the United States of America.  I had plenty of company. As Paul Simon wrote, it sure looks like everyone was out on the freeways and highways looking for America. Here are a few observations on American and traveling:

1. There sure are a lot of cemeteries. After driving 1300 miles in two days from Provo, Utah to the Mississippi River, the first thing we did was go see a cemetery. It is the Galland Cemetery, just north of Keokuk, Iowa in Lee County, overlooking the Mississippi River. This small cemetery has a gravemarker for my wife's Great-great-greatgrandfather and grandmother, Jesse and Mary Pettit. They both died in 1842 leaving six young children. Their son, Edwin Pettit, walked across the Plains to Utah as a young boy, with only his older sister to care for him. The place where they were originally buried is now under the waters of Lake Cooper behind the Keokuk Dam (Dam No. 19). Their graves were moved up on a hill to the Galland Cemetery, but the actual locations of the graves were lost. A few years ago, a group of Edwin Pettit's descendants raised a fund to establish a gravemarker. There is something sublime about standing in these small, almost unmarked, cemeteries and reflecting on the lives of those buried there.

2. There are even more cemeteries. If you live in the Midwest you have your projects all outlined for you. There are hundreds of small cemeteries scattered all over the countryside. I only feel a little bit sorry that I don't live in the Midwest to help.

3. The U.S. is dry enough to blow away in the next windstorm. We saw hundreds of miles of mainly corn crops that were killed by the drought.

4. I like back roads a lot more than freeways until I am really tired of driving, then I like going 70 mph instead of 45 or 50 mph.

5. All in all, the U.S. is showing very definite signs of the recession. There are a huge number of deserted business buildings.

6. I really like visiting with the genealogists across the country. What a great group of people!

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