This is the traditional cousin camp night where everybody gathers at the end of one day to walk about a half-mile in the dark with flashlights over the neighboring hillside to the old cemetery for Descanso. It seems that the older boys don't like to do this because they've 'already been there.' Right.
About thirty of us started off about in at night, on an old roadbed over a gravelly hillside of meadows and olive trees, eucalyptus trees and sagebrush. First we had to go through a barbed-wire fence, which was kind of daunting for us older people who kept getting stuck on the barbs, but the kids held the wires apart so we wouldn't have to live there forever.
We proceeded very slowly so nobody would trip in the darkness, until we got to the cemetery proper, which holds about 100 people. Now Cousin Jill, prepared beforehand, said a person's name who was buried there, and everybody scurried about with their flashlights to find that particular person's headstone. When the headstone was found, the finder received a one-dollar prize, then Jill told everybody about the person in the grave—like the dates they arrived in Descanso, why they came and where they came from, whatever other information she was able to find out about these pioneers. Then she said another name and everybody scrambled around to find that headstone as well. She did this about eight times which cost her eight dollars. The last two people had been killed, one by the other, so the ghost stories started and anybody who wanted to tell a frightening story could do so on the way back in the dark and through the fences.
As we looked up into the creepy trees we found a body hanging, swinging back and forth on his rope. It was a dummy that the big boys managed to hang in the tree to entertain us on our way back. That's when a small hand slipped into mine. Three-year-old cousin Joshua told me quietly..."I'm scared." Then the "body" dropped out of the tree on to the ground and his head rolled off, so I could show Joshua the body wasn't real and had been put there just to scare us. Then we found rocks with blood on them that Joshua was concerned about. But cousin Suzanna tasted the "blood" and announced it was fake so the little kids wouldn't have to worry.
We got back to camp about nine thirty, just in time for the campfire cousin Christopher had started so the big kids could sit around it and the ghost stories could get serious. The little kids all went to the big cousins and sat on them until they got carried off to their tents as they fell asleep.