Locals are dying to get into this Fishtown cemetery.
On the plus side, you'll be billed nothing for your plot, though the digging will cost somebody $600 ($800 for a 10-foot deep grave, say, to make room for your due-to-arrive-someday spouse).
I'm getting all this from Daniel Dailey, a 30-year-old electrician who grew up around the cemetery and whose father is a member of Palmer's board of trustees.
"It's unique, a true neighborhood cemetery," says Dailey, who's both played and dug graves there.
Dailey says things typically work this way: Someone living within the boundaries kicks the bucket, and their family tells the undertaker that the goner wanted to end up in Palmer. The undertaker notifies James Weiss, president of the board of trustees, who either approves or shoots down the request.
If it's thumbs up, the family advises the cemetery caretaker of an area their loved one preferred, and the caretaker sticks an 8-foot spike into the ground around that spot.
If it doesn't hit anything, they're in luck.
"That's really how they still do it," Dailey says. "That's why there aren't neat rows or anything in Palmer. The people are just kinda here, there and everywhere."
How many are buried in Palmer? Dailey says nobody really knows.
"Jim [Weiss, now a nursing home resident] used to always say between 30,000 and 50,000," Dailey says. "But since there were no records before 1851, there's no way to tell."
Palmer's getting crowded, and Dailey says it's difficult to tell how many more corpses it can accommodate. Not that he's concerned personally; he and his wife moved to Lancaster years ago.
Milano, on the other hand, who's 46 and has lived on York Street his entire life, could develop a rooting interest in the coming years.
And speaking of the coming years, I just had a disconcerting thought: How will the board of trustees react if the family of one of Fishtown's new wave of young professionals someday requests a treasured spot?
Will the board find some justification to turn them down? Do the ground rules contain a yuppie loophole?
"No," Dailey answers. "Yuppies can absolutely be buried at Palmer. If you live in the neighborhood, you can be buried there. That's how it's always been."
That's how it's always been in old-school Fishtown, he might add, where some traditions are beyond gentrification.
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