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Qingming

Started: 2012-04-08 20:14:52

Submitted: 2012-04-08 20:51:21

Visibility: World-readable

As part of an attempt to broaden Calvin's cultural horizons (and our own), Kiesa has been checking out children's books covering other cultures. One of these books was Celebrating Chinese festivals, which seemed targeted at actual Chinese-Americans but Calvin (without any clear Asian heritage) seemed amused by it. I noticed that Qingming, the tomb-sweeping festival, was coming up in middle of last week and thought I'd take the excuse to visit the gravesites of my great-grandparents (who immigrated to Hygiene shortly after the turn of the last century to farm) and my grandparents (who lived many places, including a stint in Boulder in the middle 1990s, where my grandmother died). Both sets of ancestors are buried in cemeteries conveniently close to Longmont.

Last week the National Archives released the detailed 1940 census records. I looked through the census data for Hygiene (enumeration district 7-2, Boulder County, Colorado) and found my great-aunt and great-uncle John and Anna Weng on line 18, sheet 8A. They were 46 and 44 in 1940, and listed nine children ranging in age from 23 to 3. John reported working 90 hours on his farm in the past week; his oldest son Leon (who'd completed a year of high school) reported working 72 hours, presumably on his father's farm.

(Further muddling the perennial mystery in my family as to the true whereabouts of my family in Europe is the reported birthplace of my great-uncle: Simply "Germany". I did note that, as a sign of the times, the that the place of birth says, "If foreign born, give country in which birthplace was situated on January 1, 1937" -- prior to Hitler's expansion in Europe.)

On Saturday, we set out to visit my ancestor's gravesites. I first visited the Wengs in 2006, and I found Hygiene Cemetery essentially unchanged in the last five years. Calvin didn't seem especially impressed; he wanted a park where he could play, not a grassy field with a bunch of stones Mommy and Daddy wouldn't let him touch. I brushed some pine needles off the edges of the grave markers but they remained in good shape.

Calvin and Kiesa at the Weng gravesite in Hygiene Cemetary
Calvin and Kiesa at the Weng gravesite in Hygiene Cemetary

Our next stop was Foothills Gardens of Memory, north of Longmont on US-287. This was a newer cemetery, with all of the markers set into the grass to facilitate mowing. I found the marker I was looking for, a little south of the main entrance, and showed it to Calvin, who remained unimpressed.

Calvin and Kiesa at the Tramblie gravesite
Calvin and Kiesa at the Tramblie gravesite

The leaves on this marker were a little harder to remove, since the marker was inset, and the grass hadn't yet started growing in the spring. I did the best I could and called it good.

Tramblie grave marker
Tramblie grave marker

After celebrating Qingming, we took Calvin to real park for a picnic and let him run around on the playground equipment before returning home.

Well aren't *we* the superior ones? Reveling in our great awareness as we
march into the ocean, fully cognizant of the destination to which *our*
herd of lemmings plunges? ;)
- Bitscape, 23 May 2000