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[whitespace] Columbarium
Derek Jackson

A Ghost Story

By Mark Ewert

EMMITT WATSON is the heart and soul of San Francisco's only cemetery for cremated remains, the beautiful Columbarium. Entering the building each morning with a rousing "Good morning, y'all!" Emmitt is clearly on familial terms with the dead.

"My purpose in life is to take care of these people," he says. "I adopt them. They in turn adopt me--they're part of my family."

Like all good griots, Emmitt is full of stories. "Once," he says, "I was on the scaffold painting, and I heard this little girl talking like she was talking to herself. I bent down to get a look at her, but from where I was, I could only see her from the waist down. I could only see these white legs. And I thought, 'Damn, she gotta go get her some sun!' "

The white legs, it turned out, belonged to a little girl named Viola who had died from drinking polluted water after the big earthquake. Viola's oldest living relative was so impressed by Emmitt's experience, she gave him a picture of the girl that he keeps on his desk.

"As time goes by," Emmitt says, "I believe more spirits are going to reach out to me. The older people are more scared, more distrustful; it's going to take them more time. But children, you know, they aren't shy, they just come right up and start talking to you."

Seen something unusual or even supernatural that the kids should know about? SFupernatural welcomes your story. Send leads to: SFupernatural, San Francisco Metropolitan, 1776A 18th St., San Francisco, CA 94107. Or email us at [email protected]

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From the November 16-29, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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