This happened mid-October 2007. I enjoy walking down Alhambra Boulevard, mostly prompted out of fitness and because I love Autumn! The cool nights reacting with chlorophyll change the leaves to every shade of red and yellow you can imagine. It was twilight and the schoolyard seemed empty. The evening chill seemed to chase away nearly everyone, leaving just a smattering of cars, me and the susurrus of trees.
Then something caught my eye. Standing by on old oak on the west corner of the playground I saw what looked like a stock-still person staring at me. This would not be too surprising, the homeless abound in downtown. As I strolled closer the figure failed to fill in, but I am a little near sighted. This was most obviously a woman, she had bowed shoulders and large hips. Then within just steps the figure, just as I was getting ready to say, "Hello", it disintegrated into nothing.
When I got right next to the tree I couldn't find any thing that might have caused an optical illusion. This simply was not a shadow thrown by light/twilight, or anything tangible. When I got home I decided to investigate. I would not have taken the time to look into the history of this place if it was explainable, or if I had a hunch that it was. I was surprised to learn how my eerie encounter seems to correlate with the disturbing history of the site.
Where Sutter Middle School now sits, the bodies of 4,685 people were exhumed. The dead were transported in the 1950's to their new home at East lawn cemetery, across town, but this begs the question, "Did they get everyone?"
Over a hundred years ago when John Sutter, the founder of Sacramento, was alive, he donated that area as a permanent graveyard eventually called the New Helvetia. In the early days, of the New Helvetia Cemetery, many interred bodies were signified by a wooden cross only. I wonder, do we know the names on those wooden crosses? I bet the records have been lost for many and their crosses have long ago dissolved into grave dirt, leaving some dead anonymous, and unaccounted for, bodies behind.
Just pouring a playground over the cemetery may have been enough to wake the forgotten dead. I would be upset to! What was intended to be a final resting place became a casualty in the unsentimental march of progress.