Requiem for a Nomadic Digger.

I once had a friend named JT Patton. Somewhere, along the way, I lost touch with him, and it’s been over five years now since he’s shown up on my doorstep, half drunk, and full of tales of the world of the nomadic archeologist. For those of you who don’t know much about archeology, it’s a discipline that is sometimes fueled by alcohol as much as sweat.  JT Patton was eminently qualified to be a nomadic archeologist.


The last Great Dig I heard about was his adventure in Connecticut where a hospital was building a new Cancer Hospice. As they began excavation dead bodies began to issue from the earth as if some hidden fountainhead of bones had been ruptured. As it turns out, once upon a time, there had been a massive cemetery there, and the hospital frantically sent word out they needed a dig, and they needed one yesterday.  All the roaming Diggers began to ascend, and the work began.


The graves were mostly from the 1850’s and before that time, and the people buried there were mostly the poor underclass of the city. Irish immigrants, the drinking poor, and lower class citizens who could not afford proper burials were found here, and the irony of the poor migrating Diggers which were digging the poor back up was not lost on those doing the digging. But irony was not to be of short supply, and as soon as the crew got wind they were moving the cemetery to make way for a Cancer Hospice, the official motto of the dig became, “Moving the Dead to make room for the Dying.”  The supervisor of the dig tried to kill that motto, and so it rose from the grave, to live again.


The dig’s best find, in my opinion, and in the opinion of most there, was the artificial leg found still attached to a skeleton. The leg was that part just above the knee, and of course all below it, but it had springs, pulleys, gears, and would have mimicked a real leg incredibly well. It was thrown together by a man who had built the leg out of spare parts, and everyone there was amazed. Well, not everyone. The two headed man got all the local attention.


The two headed man wasn’t really a two headed man, but in those days, the poor buried the poor on top of the poor due to the lack of space. Two bodies, one grave, and when it was be excavated, it looked for all the world like a two head man. Well, it did to one photographer to took the photo and published it in a local newspaper.  That was all anyone could talk about then, and the amazing man with his artificial leg was soon forgotten.  The Diggers still loved him, of course, but the local media...well, you know how they are.


One thing they found that is still a hard core mystery was the burial shroud of a five year old girl. It was made of a very thin cloth of some sort and woven together with a thread made of pure silver. This little girl was buried amongst people who were sometimes buried naked because their kin kept their clothes. Why she was so honored no one will ever know.


All in all, funerals and cemeteries are a waste. They waste space, resources, and they do little good for anyone. Left up to me, we would all be turned into mulch, and mixed back into a farm somewhere. Cremation is the way to go, if you cannot find a “Green Cemetery” that will bury you in a pine box, out in an open space, so you may make your way back to the earth as you ought to do.


You will never have to worry about anyone ever digging me up and wonder who I was. I will leave my earthly remains in print, in text, and in the hearts of those who love me. If I am not remembered that way, I do not deserve it.


Take Care,


PS JT Patton, if you're still alive, call me.

JTP   JTP wrote
on 7/21/2009 1:12:23 PM
Mike- aside from a few details- it was Dela-Where, not Connecticut, -you nailed it. Archaeologists drink because of ticks and poison ivy. Stress has nothing to do with it. It's medicinal. We can't hold a candle to Active and Retired Military, or Congressmen, or Judges and Lawyers in the drinking department, but we try! Only difference is that most of us wait until after working hours.

Mike Firesmith   Mike Firesmith wrote
on 5/18/2008 8:28:26 PM
Kristina, Sometimes it happens the way that it happens, and if we tell of it, then all we have done was tell the truth of it. That's what writers do, you know.

Wundrmom44   Wundrmom44 wrote
on 5/18/2008 8:05:11 PM
I don't know if I should comment.... My sis and I cremated our mother and split the ashes between the two of us. My mom is sitting just above me right this minute next to a picture of her when she was about 13. Sort of a developmental connection between the two of us if that makes any sense. The whole experience is so unreal... I had expected high pressure sales tactics... not what happended. It was very ... ummm ... easy and surreal. My husband and my sister were the ones who went to the memorial homes refrigeration facility??? To verify Mama's body... I couldn't do it. You want to know something sick and twisted Mike... Somehow she is closer to me now than she has ever been... Should I say that???

Mike Firesmith   Mike Firesmith wrote
on 5/17/2008 8:46:51 AM
Victoria, I suspect that it has a lot to do with creativity. The creative mind demands a lot of play, and sometimes, that play gets too hard, and too habit forming.

vwhitlock   vwhitlock wrote
on 5/17/2008 8:25:29 AM
I wonder why the most interesting of occupations and the most interesting of people usually involve a need for rehab at one point or another? Most people assume it's job related stress or just stress in general but I think it has more to do with bravery and a need to be different from the norm. Really enjoyed the read!

Mike Firesmith
Special Interest
writing Mike Firesmith
I write
Bookmark and Share

You must log in to rate.
Rating: 10.0/10

Digging for the truth