On a recent trip returning from a funeral in Texarkana, Texas, my friends and I stopped in Paris. My initial reason for taking the scenic route home was to see the town’s own scale model of the Eiffel Tower — with a cowboy hat on top.
But that picture and story are for another day.
Tipped by a friend at the funeral, we walked into the visitor center near the Eiffel Tower to ask someone where to find the grave featuring Jesus wearing cowboy boots. We got much more than just directions.
Down one of the corridors, a heavy wooden door opened and various people filed out of what appeared to be a conference room. It reminded me of the dispersal following a construction bid meeting back when I was a business reporter. Nobody was very excited.
“Hello,” I said to one of a few men wearing matching blue Polo-style shirts emblazoned with a logo over the left pectoral. I was carrying my DSLR camera, so I’m sure to some of them I seemed a bit like a reporter, nosing around a meeting during business hours.
“May I help you?” said the man. He had brown hair and was in his mid-40′s.
“We had heard from someone that there’s a gravesite in town with a Jesus wearing cowboy boots. Do you know what I’m talking about?”
One of the other men, probably about 20 years older than the first, perked up. “Oh, sure, come on in here and take a look at this.”
I followed him into the conference room. There on the back wall hung a charcoal drawing of a grave marker topped by a man shouldering a heavy wooden cross. We could see his left foot, and clearly it wore a cowboy boot.
“This must be a bigger deal than I thought,” I said.
“Well, you know, the man buried there was an atheist. Look closer here, at that upside-down torch. That’s a sign of the anti-Christ.”
“Wow, interesting,” I said. I had never heard of that particular symbol.
He continued. “I told them they ought to take this down when I first saw it. You can see how much they listened to me.”
I did listen to him when he gave me directions, and followed them to one of the tallest grave markers in Evergreen Cemetery. I saw nothing on it indicating that Mr. Babcock had any anti-Christian proclivities, but I suppose I just wasn’t well-versed in such things. My religious upbringing focused more on the “for” than the “against.” (click pic to enlarge)
I’m sure there are those who find the boots themselves sacrilegious. I remain unsure, because in the last photo I saw of Jesus, the photographer had cropped out his feet.
I have read about this grave marker now on several web sites, and saw no mention of Mr. Babcock’s spiritual tendencies. Apparently he was an influential person in the railroad, and may have been the Paris fire chief at one time.
If nothing else, his unusual grave has ensured that many strangers would come to see it. In that, I suppose, Mr. Babcok has achieved a measure of immortality most of us never will, regardless of what comes next.
Camera: NIKON D50
Shutter Speed Value: 1/800 sec
Exposure Program: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 105 mm
Metering Mode: Spot