Latest News

Can a ‘graveyard’ and a ‘cemetery’ be the same thing?

East Porterdale Cemetery in Columbus, Ga. is one of three cemeteries either next to, or just across the road from, the old Georgia State Farmers Market.
East Porterdale Cemetery in Columbus, Ga. is one of three cemeteries either next to, or just across the road from, the old Georgia State Farmers Market.

Whistlin’ past the graveyard, steppin’ on a crack, it’s Monday Mail.

Tom Waits

Today’s opening is from a song by Tom Waits.

Groundhog Day

That it is the dead of winter will be evident this week as lows drop into the 20s, and evident again next weekend as we mark Groundhog Day, also called Candlemas, or among the Gaelic pagans Imbolc.

It is the middle of winter, halftime on the ground game to spring, which will arrive with the vernal equinox at 5:58 a.m. March 20.

Judging spring’s arrival by a burrowing mammal goes back to German tradition, and a cloudy Candlemas Day’s meaning an early spring is reflected in poems about the commemoration.

I ran across a Business Insider piece on the holiday, and it said the animal back in the old country folklore was not a groundhog. It was a badger.

We should go back to that. I like to imagine the guy about to wake a badger up in Punxsutawney, Pa., asking organizers: “Don’t I need like some thick work gloves, a padded suit and a face shield?”

Organizer: “Nope. You’re to wear only the usual dark coats and top hats.”

Guy: “But it’s a badger.”

Organizer: “And it’s going to be ticked you woke it up.”


Last week’s column on using the old state farmer’s market land on 10th Avenue to bridge a divide between Columbus’ Riverdale and Porterdale cemeteries erroneously quoted an amount of money the Riverdale-Porterdale Foundation would pledge to develop the property into a park-like area with a pavilion and walking paths.

The foundation has promised to help maintain the land, should the city get an EPA brownfield cleanup grant to clear the old buildings and underground storage tanks, but it has pledged no specific amount, as that would be premature without the city’s first getting the grant.


Apparently that is not the only correction. Here’s an email:


I noticed you used “graveyard,” and “cemetery” interchangeably in your article. A graveyard is always next to a church on the church grounds. A cemetery is not. Riverdale, Porterdale, and Linwood are cemeteries. I was told by an undertaker (funeral director), who sells coffins (caskets), that the definition of a graveyard is that it is located next to a church and associated with the church, and a cemetery is not next to a church but stands alone and is called a cemetery.


Dear Grover:

Well, Linwood has a church, now a chapel’s been moved to. Does the church have to be there first?

I looked it up, and does say, “a burial ground often associated with smaller rural churches, as distinct from a larger urban or public cemetery.”

Other definitions are more general: “a burial ground, especially one beside a church.” Eventually they’ll be interchangeable.

Fun real procession

Here’s an email from Steve Scott, in reference to his annual “Strut the Hooch” free comedy parade of volunteers through downtown Columbus:

Goooood morning Tim,

I hope you will consider mentioning us again in your excellent column. This will be our fifth year and we are growing! Last year, even with the threat of violent weather and the postponement of ArtBeat, we had over 200 participants. I counted another 130-150 who had planned to come. We hope to hit 350-500 this year. Not that numbers are important, but community awareness and participation are.

Our audience is growing also and I noticed last year that people, especially children, are beginning to dress up and wear costumes. Warms my heart!

I will be glad to send you any information you may need. We have a Facebook page, group (for participants) and a FB event page. DATE IS SATURDAY APRIL 6TH. Form up by 9, kick-off at 9:30 in front of the Springer.

Thanks for your kind interest and support the past few years.


Dear Steve:

OK. I will mention it in my “excellent” column.

Which one was that?