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Metropolis / Passing Through

We See Dead People

October 27, 2002|MICHAEL T. JARVIS

The Living History Cemetery Tour may sound like an oxymoron, but $17 tickets sell out for the fall event in which earthly mortals portray inhabitants of the Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery in West Adams. Incorporated in 1884, the graveyard on Washington Boulevard was the first in Southern California open to all races and religions. In "residence" are many civic pioneers and film stars such as Hattie McDaniel and Anna May Wong. We asked participants what they dug up.

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Steve Shaw

40, sound designer/actor, Valley Village

Who was your character?

Dr. George Emery Goodfellow (1855-1910). He was a Wild West doctor in Tombstone, Ariz., coroner of Cochise County and surgeon for the Arizona Eastern and Southern Pacific railroads. He fought in the Spanish-American War. He was a wily visionary, a bit of a braggart.

Do you believe in ghosts?

I don't, but sometimes things happen that I can find no explanation for.

What is your spookiest experience?

One time I was in a sound-mixing booth. Somebody rapped on the windowsill beneath the booth and called my name. No one was there. It happened twice.

What era would you like to live in?

The Roaring '20s sound like a lot of fun. New inventions were becoming popular.

Which do you prefer, burial or cremation?

Cremation seems more final. It puts a period on it.

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Evan Pleger

11, student, Los Angeles

Who was your character?

Willie Cook (1893-1903) died at [age] 9. He was run over by a streetcar near 44th Street and Central Avenue.

What was your character like?

Much like me: creative, polite. His grave is so cool: They spelled his last name with hand signs for sign language. His mother was deaf and mute.

How did you end up in the role?

My mom is [an organizer] of the tour. She likes to put us in costumes.

What's the spookiest part of L.A.?

The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb at Universal Studios really creeps me out.

What era would you like to live in?

The Renaissance. We went to a Renaissance festival. I was in a costume contest and lost to two younger boys because of the "cute" factor.

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Joyce Albers

57, librarian, Los Angeles Central Library

Who was your character?

May Knight Rindge (1864-1941) and her husband bought a ranch of 13,000 acres that became Malibu. Her daughter was Rhoda, and they used her name backward for Adohr Stock Farms, the area's largest dairy producer.

What was she like?

Feisty, stubborn. She came from a very determined family.

How did you get in character?

I went to the Adamson House in Malibu. The docent there is marvelous, and I spent a day with him. Practicing at home, I put on the costume and it helped a lot.

Should people be afraid in cemeteries?

No. Cemeteries are wonderful. I like reading the headstones and the history.

What era would you like to live in?

I have this affinity for the 1940s, the style and the postwar optimism.

Which do you prefer, burial or cremation?

I don't care if I'm buried or in an urn but I want a marker in the cemetery in Angeles, Kan., near someone I'm related to.

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Evan Beaumont

17, student, Los Angeles

Who was your character?

Myron Wilson Sr. (1916-2001) was my grandfather. He was [with] the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. He was fluent in German and Japanese. My grandfather died last year and my uncle's buried here and my brother.

What was your grandfather like?

He lived in Pearblossom. He was animated but set in his ways.

How did you get in character?

I knew him. I'd impersonate him when I was younger.

How do you resemble him?

My humor. All his children have it.

Do you believe in ghosts?

I believe in the spiritual world that's different from our world.

What's the spookiest part of L.A.?

I heard there's a home in West Adams where some Jesuit priests lived. The Manson family used it and someone was killed there.

What era would you like to live in?

I'd like to live in the future. What the future holds is what interests me.

Which do you prefer, burial or cremation?

Burial. I don't see any reason to be cremated.

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