The Fool’s Graveyard

Most of us can’t resist engaging in one form of foolishness or another. Contrary to common

sense, doctors’ advice, and mothers’ naggings, we eat too much, exercise too little, drive too

fast, refuse to wear our seat belts and don’t floss our teeth. The same sort of willful disregard of

prudent behavior was prevalent at the turn of the century, with sometimes fatal results, as this

item from the Valentine Democrat attests:

“Take a walk through any of the cemeteries of the country, and you will almost believe that the

fools are slowly passing away. You pass the last resting place of the man who blew down the

gun to see if it was loaded. A little further down the hillside is buried the man who tried to see

how close he could pass in front of a moving train. In strolling about you pass the modest

monument of the hired girl that started a fire with kerosene and the grass-covered mound of

what remains of the boy that pulled the gentle mule’s tail.

“The tall shaft of the man who blew out the gas overshadows the boy who jumped from the

train to save a ten rods walk. Side by side lie the ethereal creature who always kept her corset

laced to the last hole and the intellectual idiot who rode a bicycle nine miles in ten minutes.

“Here reposes the doctor who took a dose of his own medicine, and just over there with the top

of a shoe box driven down by his head lies the old fool that married a young wife. Right over

yonder, in the northwest corner, the gentle breezes sigh through the weeping willows that bend

over the lowly bed where lies the fellow who told his mother-in-law that she lied.

“Down there in the potter’s field with his feet sticking out to the cold blasts of winter and the

blistering rays of the summer sun is stretched the earthly remains of the misguided regulator

who tried to lick the editor. The broken bones of the man who would not pay for his paper are

piled up in a corner of the fence.

“Over by the gate reposes the boy who went swimming on Sunday, and the old woman that kept

baking powder side by side with strychnine in the cupboard. These with others are quietly

waiting for Gabriel to blow his great awakening trumpet.”


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