In Texas, we used to wander through cemeteries, looking for the oldest dates.
The instigator was Mike Kearl, a three-decade sociology professor at Trinity University and an expert on death and dying.
In many big cities, a cemetery is full of life, a little oasis of sanity in the midst of a bustling metropolis. In Munich, my favorite is Old North. This one’s for you, Mike.
In the 1930s, the Nazis ended burials in shaded, cool and calm Old North to make room for a broad thoroughfare that never materialized because the war started. The cemetery, in the northwest of the center city, was badly damaged during WWII and never reopened. At least for burials.
Today, reading and sewing are just the kinds of occupations that visitors prefer at the cemetery.
It’s also space for a beer. Nobody becomes disrespectful of the residents all around.
The Old North grass is always mowed, perfect for low-level exploration. Brick walls surrounding the cemetery’s rectangular plot keep everybody safe from cars careening by on surrounding streets.
Time out. The cemetery is surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a busy big city. But inside the walls, time seems to slow down and there’s time to just be together.
At the west end, an annex has been replaced by a children’s playground, which has turned into ground zero for competition among local chess enthusiasts. For the rest of us, just inside the brick walls, there’s a half-mile path for a jog.