By John Marlowe
On Page 13 of a home improvement magazine, I came across an article featuring those “tiny” houses that are becoming popular. The article featured lots of photographs of the homes, which are often no larger than a backyard tool shed.
Some of the designs amazed me. One tiny house had a loft, and could accommodate a family of four –– hopefully small –– children. Another even had room for a pool table! Granted, the pool table served as the dining room table, laundry folding table and child diaper changing table. But, that’s the whole idea behind tiny houses.
The normally single room homes contain bedroom, bath, and kitchen all wrapped up into one petite living space. Tiny houses were popularized in the 1970s by Allan Wexler, who challenged the convention of large, often unaffordable housing that frustrated people without deep pockets. Today, there is a resurgence in tiny houses for those seeking to separate themselves from the norms of society.
In Wexler’s time, it was called “getting away from it all.” In our time, we call it “living off the grid.”
There is a lure to these tiny houses, some no more than 10 by 15 feet in dimension. They symbolize a certain “permanent freedom.” Permanent, in that you actually live in a home and not a camper; and freedom, because you can put a tiny house almost anywhere –– barring places where codes disallow them.
In the perfect world, one would erect his tiny house in the middle of 200 acres of pastoral paradise somewhere. Hopefully, your land is complete with snowy slopes, babbling brooks and wondrous woodlands. However, homeowners know that chances of finding those kinds of places available are remote. And what about people who prefer to live in expensive cities?
I think I have the solution.
All around the world there are millions of acres of unused real estate going to waste. Most often, this unused land comes complete with beautiful vistas, convenience to shopping and schools, and in most cases, is already being landscaped, mowed and groomed with beautiful flowers.
I’m talking about leftover cemetery plots.
Think about it. Through divorce, remarriages, relocations, burials at sea and the untimely taking of the room temperature challenge, millions –– perhaps tens of millions –– of individual burial plots are going, and will go, unused.
Take my family for instance. Years ago, the local cemetery association salesman sold our family four adjoining plots in the local “planting” field, just in case –– I suppose –– we were all simultaneously wiped out by the Black Plague.
Dad divorced Mother, and he is now buried next to his third wife’s plot, about 30 miles away –– which I imagine for my Mother, still isn’t far enough. My brother, moved to Houston, got married, and I’m sure he will remain –– or his remains –– will stay down there.
See? There’s two plots right there that I will gladly deed over to you for you to build your tiny house.
Grandaddy’s plot is just over there, but he is buried in Mobile, Alabama next to his second wife, Polly, who outlived two previous husbands. Next to him on the right is Cousin Phyllis, who met a sad, early demise. On Polly’s left is her daughter Bobbie, who met a similar fate. That left no room for my Aunt Betty, who always wanted to be buried next to her Dad. So Betty had herself cremated –– I’m not sure how that’s done –– and she lies next to Grandaddy in the little void in-between.
There’s six more pieces of empty land, right there!
Do the math. I’m just guessing here, but if you took all empty graves and combined them, I’ll bet you’d have enough acreage to equal the land mass of Uganda.
I’ve done it! I think I’ve singlehandedly solved the world’s housing crisis! Build tiny houses on unused burial plots.
I do have one warning, however. I suggest not going down into the basement.
John O. Marlowe is an award-winning columnist for Sagamore News Media.