|Michael Keith and his daughters in search of Tennessee Williams.|
No one in the group knew much about St. Louis, but Michael recalled that Tennessee Williams was buried there. Somewhere. The beautiful daughters agreed that finding the grave of America's greatest playwright was a perfect way to spend a sunny day in St. Louis. Out came the phones and consultations with Siri, the magical know-it-all who speaks from within the portable phones of the techno-savvy.
|Fifty years ago Michael made his first trip to||St. Louis for the wedding of his brother David to Sue|
|David with his axe, the tuba|
|Tennessee Williams with author Gore Vidal, among others, in a Manhattan garden in 1948 as his fateful adventure with fame began|
|Tennessee Williams house. 1431 Duncan Street, Key West|
|Tennessee, happy, at his home on Duncan Street, circa 1965|
After Tennessee's death Dakin claimed that the playwright had been murdered. The hows and whys of this intrigue were never quite clear, but Dakin traveled with bodyguards when he attended New Orleans' annual Tennessee Williams Festival, celebrated around the March 26 birthdate of Tennessee Williams. And Dakin always enjoyed being the last link to understanding the playwright's life. He relished the role and claimed himself to be a "professional brother." Toward the end of his life Dakin created a bizarre one-man show in which he dressed in drag to portray Blanche Dubois. The show went through various versions, but always ended with the final speech from "Glass Menagerie."
In spite of Tennessee's stated wishes, upon his death Dakin had his brother's body transported from New York City to St. Louis, Missouri. There the body laid in state for two days and was buried in Calvary Catholic Cemetery. Tennessee's body lies eternally next to his mother, Edwina, and his sister, Rose. When questioned on the matter, Dakin claimed that his brother's will contained no provision for a burial at sea. He added that he would have ignored it if it had.
|Williams family plot in Calvary Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri.|
And so, on an unseasonably warm and sunny St. Louis afternoon, the group set out to find the graves of Tennessee Williams and his invalid sister Rose. Both had once lived on the island of Key West in the not so distant past, a past that seems ever more hazy as this world speeds into a future where the genius of Tennessee Williams sometimes seems all but forgotten.
And Dakin? He's there too, with Tennessee, Rose, and their mother Edwina. But there are no words carved into a stone for Dakin, no way of knowing which grave is his. When you enter the Calvary Cemetery and they give you a map with red circles around the more notable denizens, Dakin's grave is not among them. Why isn't Dakin's gravestone marked? Who can tell us? Maybe someone should ask Siri.