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  • I live in University City.

    A suburb of St. Louis, one of the dozens of municipalities that make up St. Louis County. Of which but one is the now world-infamous Ferguson.

    It's a strange town, University City. It straddles Delmar Avenue, one of the more noticeable divisions that splits the population into African-American and White segments. South is the white population, north the black population.

    It's not a 100% division. Small numbers of whites - including myself - live north of Delmar, small number of blacks south. But it is enough of a division to give the Delmar divide credibility as a racial fault line running through St. Louis.

    Driving through my home municipality, along, say Hanley Boulevard, takes me from mansions and well-kept subdivisions to the south through to rental properties, small homes and scattered foreclosures to the north. You can almost sense the wealth evaporating as you move along. Once you're there, onto and past Page Avenue, you're in a strange scattershot land. The land of Pagedale and Hanley Hills, Bel-Nor, Normandy and, yes, Ferguson. A land of open spaces and small homes. Most of the open spaces are cemeteries. The UMSL campus of the University of Missouri occupies another. Golf courses and small forests.
  • I find myself drawn to this strange area. There's an aura of abandonment and stasis. Of frozen time.

    One place that seems to embody this feeling more than most is the Laurel Hill Cemetery.

    An open, comparatively treeless, series of plots on the cusp of a rise. Compared to other local cemeteries, sparsely populated. Not unkempt, but not polished either.

    Most of the graves are marked by flat ground level markers. None of the grand monuments that you'll find in the Bellefontaine and Calvary Cemeteries, resting places of the great and famous.

    However, once in a while, you'll come across an exception.
  • Such as this crumbling mortar and concrete memorial.

    Decorated with relief carvings of saints. Neglected and unloved.

    Look to the north, and a rural aspect of trees and bushes greets your eye.

    Look south, and a derelict factory looms impotently behind electricity pylons.
  • The land, particularly in deep winter, looks blasted and exhausted. Only strong enough to bear the dead.

    Looking again at the decaying monolith, I find myself caught up in an anesthesia of thought. If the the Four Horsemen themselves were to ride onto that wasteland, I believe they would give up all dreams of apocalypse and sink into an unyielding sleep.

    Slowly subsumed into the brown earth, covered perhaps with a flat stone marker, and left for the ages.

    For the ages seem paramount here on Laurel Hill Cemetery.
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