Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Xenia, Ohio

Crossing Time:  Only five hours and fifteen minutes left in 2014. But in Tokyo, Delhi, and Monrovia, 2015 is already here. It takes a full 24 hours to upload the new year. The operating system of the universe might be slow, but it sure is reliable. Woodland Cemetery. [2013]

Monday, December 29, 2014

Adairsville, Georgia

Crossing Time: In a few days, we'll all be crossing off another year. In a few years, we'll all be crossing time in a different way. Let's hope everyone has spent the past year planting a few seeds that will bear fruit in the years ahead. Here, though, the planter has become the planted. It happens to the best of us. Eastview Cemetery. [2013]

Friday, December 26, 2014

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Christmas Comes to the Graveyard:  In military service, it's all about conforming to standards. It's no different in military graveyards. Even Christmas wreaths are standard-issue evergreen circles bedecked by standard-issue red ribbons. Chattanooga National Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Frederick, Maryland

Christmas Comes to the Graveyard. . .  just like Christmas used to come to the Cook farm in rural Frederick County, Maryland. In the farmhouse (see it?), a wreath of presents would encircle the base of the Christmas tree. Among them, always, would be some Old Spice. Today, in the post-departum world, the tradition continues, now under the watchful eye of a guardian snowman. Mount Olivet Cemetery. [2014]

Monday, December 22, 2014

Midway, Georgia

Christmas Comes to the Graveyard: Advent wreaths point to the coming birth, or advent, of Jesus. Wreaths have no beginning and no end; they are a symbol of eternity. Hence, they are a perfect symbol for cemeteries. First Presbyterian Church Cemetery. [2012]

Friday, December 19, 2014

Chloride, Arizona

Chloride Cemetery:  Chronology reconstructed from grave-top evidence: graduated from high school at age 18, spent twenty years in the U.S. Coast Guard, retired in 1976, lived twenty four more years at least part of which must have been in the Arizona desert near Chloride, died in 2000 at age 61. What's so geographically jarring about this propeller? You don't expect to find a Coastie so far from the coast. [2009]

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Chloride, Arizona

Chloride Cemetery:  Headstone design follows waves of popular preference. Here, though, the graphic elements are decidedly regional, not national. Do you get a sense of Chloride's place in the world just by looking at these cowboy silhouettes? [2009]

Monday, December 15, 2014

Chloride, Arizona

Chloride Cemetery:  Mining towns come and go, and that's exactly what happened to Chloride. The camp was founded in the 1860s for the sole purpose of mining silver. Other minerals followed, but fortunes sank, and Chloride became a ghost town. Then came the tourists, snowbirds, and retirees to revitalize the area. All eras of its history are found in the cemetery which is well over a century old. See the mines on the hillside? [2009]

Friday, December 12, 2014

South Wales, New York

Here's to Non-Conformists Everywhere!  For the conformists: granite (maybe marble), vertical (maybe horizontal). For the non-conformists: field stone (reminder of home). South Wales Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bloomfield, New Mexico

Here's to Non-Conformists Everywhere!  When life presents us with limited options, how many times do we want to just scream:  "None of the above!"  As you get ready to check out of hotel Earth, what kind of stone slab would you like to mark your exit route? Here is someone who just screamed: "None of the above!" Bloomfield Cemetery. [2013]

Monday, December 8, 2014

Thompson Springs, Utah

Here's to Non-Conformists Everywhere!  Where's he gone? "He's gone off to cast a Coachman fly, while Margie's spirit, on the breeze dances by."  No granite or marble here, just a solid piece of the high desert. To him, a solid piece of home, with the Book Cliffs in the background. Thompson Springs Cemetery. [2013]

Friday, December 5, 2014

Suffolk, Virginia

Dance is Sacred: "Dance is sacred. It is a prayer for the future, a remembrance of the past and a joyful exclamation of thanks for the present." So sayeth Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. So, that's why we dance at weddings! Now, read a final wish for the world and count up the number of souls still dancing because they have been given the gift of life by a generous stranger. Liberty Spring Christian Church Cemetery. [2012]

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Parkersburg, West Virginia

Dance is Sacred:  "To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful." So sayeth Agnes de Mille. And, where else can you be more out of yourself than in heaven? Dancing, of course. Mt. Olivet Cemetery. [2014]

Monday, December 1, 2014

Decatur, Georgia

Dance is Sacred: "Dance is the hidden language of the soul." So sayeth Martha Graham. Now, raise your eyes to the heavens! There, you might see this kinetic duo dancing in the clouds. Decatur Cemetery. [2014]

Friday, November 28, 2014

Laramie, Wyoming

Reflecting on Life ~ "End of Construction: Thank You For Your Patience":  There are two ways to understand his parting words. What words have you uttered daily that might throw a whole new light on the life you have lived? Green Hill Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Paradise, Pennsylvania

Reflecting on Life ~ "The Person That Has Lived The Most Is Not The One With The Most Years, But The One With The Richest Experiences": Their epitaph is a reminder to us all. Make every day an experience and revel in it. St. Johns United Methodist Church Cemetery. [2014]

Monday, November 24, 2014

Aberdeen, Ohio

Reflecting on Life ~ "Life: Helluva Party":  Survey time: Pick the verb that fills your void. Life ___ one helluva party.  (a) is (b) used to be (c) should have been (d) could have been, (e) never was. Charter Oak Cemetery. [2014]

Friday, November 21, 2014

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Philosophy of Life ~ "We Took The Road Less Traveled": The epitaph speaks for a husband-and-wife team: They took the road less traveled. And, then, the road ended. Lakeview Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Woodford, Virginia

Philosophy of Life ~ "I'm a Living Testimony": Through her music, she apparently made her life a testimony to her faith. From the afterlife, she continues to inspire just because someone, maybe her, designed the perfect headstone. Mount Lawn Cemetery. [2012]

Monday, November 17, 2014

Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Philosophy of Life ~ "I Lived My Life My Way":  The family name fits the epitaph, doesn't it? It's the type of declaration that answers some questions and raises others. Don't we all want to live our lives our way? But do we? Cedar Rest Cemetery. [2014]

Thursday, November 13, 2014

James Island, South Carolina

Flying the Flag after Veterans Day:  Faithfulness and patriotism go together on so many memorials. This headstone appears to have been designed by the pre-dead. Presumably still alive, this couple has taken the opportunity to shape the narrative that will shape the world's view of them long after they are gone. Sometimes that task is left to survivors. Presbyterian Church Cemetery. [2012]

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Flying the Flag on Veterans Day:  It's the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month: the moment in time when, 96 years ago, the hostilities of what we know as World War I came to an end. When this 'veteran's veteran' was born, the day was still called Armistice Day. After World War II, however, it became a day to honor all who served. Judging from the list of accomplishments on his eternal resume, it looks like this Pennsylvanian should have been nominated to be the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He lived and loved to serve. [2014]

Friday, November 7, 2014

Xenia, Ohio

Flying the Flag for Veterans Day:  Flags on granite last forever, but they lack color. The solution: Plant a real flag in the contiguous zone, perhaps in a bronze flag holder that acknowledges the last resting place of a US veteran. This veteran looks like he might have been a little too young for Korea and a little too old for Vietnam. Nevertheless, he was prepared to sacrifice his life for his country; two flags honor his valor. Woodland Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Griffin, Georgia

Flying the Flag for Veterans Day:  Another veteran, another American flag. He (Dad and Granddaddy) gets the seal of the U.S. Army over his name. As a "great army wife," she (Mother and Meme) gets the stars and stripes. Need this couple add "Proud to be Americans"? There is something unique about one symbol on this headstone: rings of different sizes to symbolize their marriage. New Oak Cemetery. [2014]

Monday, November 3, 2014

Montgomery, West Virginia

Flying the Flag for Veterans Day: Veterans Day is coming up next week. It's time to honor the fallen by visiting their burial places and saying thank you for their sacrifice. Many of their grave markers will have an American flag etched into the granite. The holiday was initiated in 1919, one year after the end of the Great War, when President Wilson proclaimed every November 11 to be Armistice Day:  "to be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory." This soldier was born in the year World War I ended; he "died in the service of his country" in the last years of World War II. Montgomery Memorial Park. [2010]

Friday, October 31, 2014

Shrewsbury, Massachusetts

Let's Learn About Accordions:  The piano accordion is the the official musical instrument of San Francisco, California, home of the nation's oldest accordion club. Did you know that any squeeze box, no matter the brand, is extremely good at playing Happy Birthday? Mountain View Cemetery. [2012]

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Greeley, Colorado

Let's Learn About Accordions:  You are looking at Tejano music memorialized on a headstone. Its origins are not simply Hispanic, but also German, Polish, and Czech. Guess what instrument the central Europeans contributed to the blend. The accordion. What was the most popular brand? Gabbanelli. The family has custom made accordions in Houston since 1961. Linn Grove Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Worcester, Massachusetts

Let's Learn About Accordions:  Let's unpack the story. The name on the headstone sounds like it has origins in Central Europe. The engraved flowers may narrow down the choices: the rose is the national flower of Czechia, which is (or was) a Roman Catholic country. A hundred years ago migration from central and eastern Europe to the U.S. was at its peak. Although that generation is largely gone, they undoubtedly brought with them an affection for the accordion, which happens to have been invented in the Austrian Empire (Czech lands included). Notre Dame Cemetery. 2013.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Woodville, Wisconsin

Let's Learn About Accordions:  The accordion must have been popular among the northern Europeans. Ellefson is a name of Norwegian origin and quite common in the Upper Midwest. That would include not only Wisconsin, but also North Dakota where America's most famous accordionist was born. His name was Lawrence Welk, and he died in 1992. It would be 'wonnerful' if he had an accordion on his headstone (but he doesn't). Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery, 2012.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Durango, Colorado

Let's Learn About Accordions:  The name on this headstone sounds Italian, so he might have called his instrument of choice the fisarmonica.  Nevertheless, his brand of choice seems to have been from Germany.  Hess was a well-known maker of accordions, located in Klingenthaler on the border with the Czech Republic. Greenmount Cemetery.  2013.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Arcade, New York

Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Cemetery:  From all the homesteads and farmsteads in SS Peter and Paul Cemetery, you might conclude that the locals loved their place on earth so much they wanted to take it with them into the afterlife. Good ideas spread and often transform landscapes: In this case, someone had the idea to memorialize home on their headstone. Lots of others thought it was a good idea and did the same thing. One small cemetery; one big idea. [2013]

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Arcade, New York

Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Cemetery:  The barn is large; the house is small; both are off-center in deference to portraying what German geographers would call landschaft, and what Americans would call landscape. Read as a sentence, what does it say?  'We didn't live in the house; we lived on the land and we put it in the center of our lives.' [2013]