Merry Christmas! I hope you all are having a wonderful day.
I feel bad about kind of abandoning the blog for the last couple of weeks. I just get so frazzled around the holidays, it’s hard to find time to do anything. I mean, I love the Christmas season and everything, but it does get tiring. I’m sure at least some of you know the feeling. I made some half-hearted attempts to write about the new ballpark EIR, the Climate Action Plan, the MacArthur BART Transit Village, and I think something else that I can’t even remember now, but I just couldn’t find the time to do any of it right. Alas. Maybe next week.
So instead, I want to tell you today about a fun thing to do tomorrow if you’re spending the holidays in Oakland.
Mountain View Cemetery
So. A couple of months ago, I went on one of the free docent tours at Mountain View Cemetery. I have to admit, until like a week before I went on the tour, I didn’t even know that they offered such a thing.
I’d been to Mountain View Cemetery lots of times before, of course. It’s a beautiful place with stunning views, and I love to just go for long walks around there. Sometimes I’ll take a little picnic and a book and just hang out there for hours. Occasionally, I’ll wander around looking at the names on the gravestones and seeing if I recognize any of them.
Or if I see one that catches my eye, I might go look up on my phone to see if there’s an entry about that person on Lives of the Dead, Michael Colbruno’s Mountain View Cemetery Bio Tour. A couple of times, I’ve tried to locate Ina Coolbrith’s grave, but I have never been successful in that endeavor. I’ll find it someday, I’m sure. I know it’s in there somewhere.
Anyway, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from a guided tour of the cemetery. It turned out to be super cool! The tour lasted about two hours, and we just walked around the cemetery and stopped at the graves of people who were either some kind of noteworthy historical figure or just had an interesting story about them. It was a really good mix of people they talked about, and also a really excellent combination of informative and entertaining. That can be a tough balance to strike sometimes, but our docents got it perfect, and also did a really good job making everyone they talked about sound very real. Like, so you could imagine them as an actual person instead of just a name with a bunch of facts and dates attached.
They also talked some about the design and history of the cemetery itself, which was something I had honestly never really thought much about before at all, but I ended up finding really fascinating.
Anyway, the whole thing was just great, and I left eager to return for another tour. They do these free tours twice a month. On the second Saturday of each month, they do a general tour, which is what I went on. People tell me that it’s worth going on the general tour more than once, though, because there’s always different docents leading them and so the tour is always a little different.
On the fourth Saturday of the month, they do a tour on a specific subject. They have tours focused on important women in the cemetery or the architecture there and stuff like that. In February, for Black History Month, they have a tour about African American community leaders buried in the cemetery. There’s one about doctors in the cemetery. I was looking at the calendar after I finished the tour I went on, and saw that earlier in the fall, there was one about all the Mayors of Oakland that are buried there. I totally want to go on that one next year. And like a dozen different people have raved to me about the Memorial Day tour that local author Dennis Evanosky does of the civil war veteran plots, so if I’m in town then, I’m definitely going to go to that.
I’m sad to say that I haven’t actually made it back to another tour since the one I went on, because I have been out of town every time they’ve had one. But one of these days I am sure it will work out for me.
Anyway. The reason I bring this all up today is because they also do a special tour the day after Christmas: Mountain View Cemetery from the Beginning (Special Sunday: Founders Day Tour). The one tour I went on made me very eager to learn more about the history of the cemetery, so I think it sounds super cool, and if I were in town, I would totally go. But I’m in the mountains with my family, surrounded by snow. Which I have to say, is a pretty awesome way to spend the holidays, even if it means you have to miss the cool Mountain View Cemetery history tour.
But if you’re around, you should totally go. Have family in town and can’t think of what to do with them? Take them to this. It’s free, it’s interesting, it’s something different, it’s beautiful, the views are spectacular, you can go stroll down Piedmont Avenue afterwards, which is also really fun, and so on. According to weather.com, there’s a 40% chance that it will rain for you guys tomorrow morning, in which case I guess the cemetery tour would probably not be such a great idea.
But if the weather’s good, go for it! The tour starts at 10 AM tomorrow, Sunday, December 26th at Mountain View Cemetery, located at 5000 Piedmont Avenue.
Okay, that’s all for today. Have a great Christmas, everyone!