Jeanpaul Ferro

There are notable people buried in Swan Point Cemetery.  Thomas Dorr of the Dorr Rebellion.  Four Congressional Medal of Honor recipients.  Aunts and uncles and cousins of Presidents, celebrities, black sheep that inhabit every family. The fathers of American horror, H.P. Lovecraft and C.M. Eddy, Jr., battle for tourist attention.  Painter Robert Henry is near them, too.  There are the six-hundred men who fell at Bull Run, at Fredericksburg, at the Battle of the Seven Pines.  An Olympic runner.  Twenty-three Rhode Island governors scattered about like stones on a beach.  The grave of Elizabeth Chace, whose Central Falls home was one of the last stops along the underground railroad.

Walking from grave to grave I saw the names of thousands of children.  Not one had made it to  seventeen.  Back in the 18th and 19th Century entire families were lost in weeks.  Consumption took five from this one family.  Six from another.  You can see they all died close together.  Eliza: 1 year; 6 months.  Thomas: 4 years; 2 months.  Edwin: 3 months; 4 days.  Row after row of names.

There are 40,000 names carved into those marble headstones.  Strangely, this Providence graveyard has become a mecca to all those haunts looking for H.P. Lovecraft’s ghost.  Many of them come on Halloween, where they stand around together smoking French cigarettes, drinking Bourbon, and making toasts like they somehow knew the guy and would have liked him, even though nobody in real life ever did.  They bought Lovecraft his own headstone once.  It reads, I am Providence.   Yet when they come here to find him, they find themselves looking at another grave, looking at a marble tomb of a lost brother and sister whose arms are wrapped around one another.  A white tomb the color of snow.

This is the grave everyone is drawn to.  Maybe the two of them hadn’t accomplished a thing in life.  Maybe they never said or wrote a word that mattered.  But years later, decades after they were gone, strangers come to mourn them.  People come from all around the world to place pebbles, copper colored pennies, bracelets, and mementos like they knew these two kids.  That morning someone left a teddy bar and placed it atop their tomb, just before the snow began to fall.  There was a trail of footprints that lead away from the grave.