Friday, September 20, 2019

Stories Told and Stories Re-Visited: Grand Vue Storytelling Festival and Ikie's Tomb

I slept a long, long time last night/this morning.

Yesterday started early (4am) and ended late. It was a storytelling day and the venue was 3 hours away--and then we extended the day to do some exploring.

So much crowded into those hours!

  • A beautiful drive north along the Ohio River,
  • watching lights come on in homes and the night fade into day;
  • storytelling in a hilltop park with awesome views in all directions; the happy faces and voices of hundreds of school children all eager to hear stories;
  • seeing storyteller friends;
  • a stop at La Barista coffee shop in New Martinsville for a supper of their delicious sandwiches (we shared a tomato and grilled cheese, and a turkey-cheddar-apple--wow!) and coffee;
  • what we thought would be wild goose chase to find Ikie's Tomb again
  • a stop at our favorite place in Ripley for Larry to have a well-earned beer after all that driving.
  • home to pet the animals and sit out on the porch a little while to enjoy the cool night air.
  • And finally to bed around 11pm.
The storytelling event was the Grand Vue Storytelling Festival, organized by storytellers Tom and Judi Tarowsky, with the collaboration of the park and Grave Creek Mound staff (a huge Indian mound located in Moundsville, WV). The park is on top of some steep ridges just outside town, and the views are glorious. Schools bussed children to the event, and we told stories on shelters and meeting rooms in various locations in the park. It was such fun! I miss the West Virginia Storytelling Festival that ran for almost 25 years, where I told stories in a similar event each year. It was good to get back into that energy. I have no photos--Larry took naps while I was telling (a good idea, since he was the driver and it would be a long day) and I was right busy.

Larry and I decided that we could use the opportunity of this trip upriver to go to Ikie's tomb again, if we could find it. I am working on a slide show to go with the ghost stories I tell, and I needed to re-take photos I took when a friend took us to the tomb about 7 years ago. I lost those pictures in a computer crash. All I could remember of the drive to the graveyard was where to turn off the highway, and a vague mental image of the road up into the remote cemetery.

Fortunately, Larry remembered a little bit more. He recognized a few things, like the bridge over Middle Island Creek, but neither of us could remember much more, except that it was on a gravel road. So we drove and drove for what seemed like miles (actually only 12 miles) and were wondering if we'd ever even find our way back when we came to the Meadville Mall. This place we remembered! It is pretty far back in the country, and you'd sure need to know where you were going to find it. Talk about your oldtime country store--this is it. I didn't take a photo of the outside--this is from their Facebook page.

But I did take pictures of the inside, and it's just what you might think such a store would look like.

This is the kitchen, where they serve meals and offer pickup orders.

The young man working at the store looked puzzled when I asked for directions to Mount Welcome cenetery, but when I mentioned a tomb there, his eyes lit up. "You mean Ikie's Tomb!" Yes! He knew exactly where it was and drew us a rough map of how to get there. We had a great conversation about the story of Ikie and he added a few details I had not heard before. "You need to talk to my Dad," he said, "he knows all about it." Indeed I do! We got two of the biggest ice cream cones I've ever seen, packed full of Rocky Road (fitting for where we were going) for me and Dutch Chocolate for Larry. Yum. We will be back, for sure, and soon I hope.

The young man's directions were spot on. The gravel road was rough and narrow, with grass growing in the center, but with the map and our memories we finally found what we were looking for. The rutted dirt track leading to the cemetery meant getting out and walking up.

Along the way...

and finally the cemetery. How sad and maddening to find that almost all the stones were knocked over! Who would do such a thing??  Four-wheeler tracks gave evidence to how it was done. Made me so angry.

Fortunately, the graves of Ikie and his grandparents and other family were undisturbed. There, looming in the background, is the tomb. You can read the story of this unusual grave on my past blog--just click here.

The tomb had a window, which was later knocked out by vandals,

and a door which was closed up at some time. I'm not sure when or why.

A date over the door is hard to read, but I believe it said 1906, the year Ikie died, or possibly 1907, the year the tomb was completed and his body moved into it.

Inside the tomb--the roof was deliberately collapsed years ago, after Ikie was re-interred in his new grave, to prevent Satanic and other weird rituals from being performed in there. Apparently there had been some of that previously.

Inside the tomb.

Larry looking in the window, standing on broken rubble from the collapsed roof.

The shards and pieces on the ground show that the roof must have been quite elaborate. I would love to see a photo of the tomb as constructed.

Inside the tomb:

The trough into which Ikie's body was laid and covered with formaldehyde, then covered with glass--so you could look in the window and see him floating there:

The sun was sinking fast as we made our way back to the van.

Goodbye, Ikie. I'm sorry I didn't have flowers, but now I know the way we can go back again to visit.

It was one of those days that went on and on, and that I didn't want to end. When we finally went to bed, sleep was immediate and deep. The kind that comes of a day well and happily filled.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Interesting. I went back to your earlier post: a sad story.

I think people who are afraid of things like cemeteries, especially young people, feel justified in destroying these "scary things." Sadly, adults have their own versions of destroying what they fear instead of working to be rational and compassionate.

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