Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Charlottesville, Virginia

Professor Buried Here:  Forty-three years as a professor at the same university. What would the millennials think? Perhaps a visit to a cemetery like this would give them a different perspective on the world of work. Today, the average length of time spent at any job is 4.4 years. University of Virginia Cemetery. [2014]

Monday, July 28, 2014

Grand Forks, North Dakota

Professor Buried Here:  The University of North Dakota must have been his universe. The seal would suggest he had administrative responsibilities, too. He lived until he was 95. Don't you wonder when he retired? Do you agree with contemporary pop psychology that says: Don't let yourself be defined by your job? Or, in the case of this professor, scholar, and veteran, was the job the main ingredient in bringing him to nonagenarian status? Memorial Park Cemetery. [2012]

Friday, July 25, 2014

Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Artist Buried Here:  She lived as an art aficionado. She also lived as a proud member of Pi Beta Phi, the nation's first national women's fraternity. These two things have been chosen, by her or her survivors, to epitomize her life. What is unique about this headstone, though, is the repetition of the name. Chestnut Hill Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida

Artist Buried Here:  Here's a complete tableau: a portrait of the painter with palette and easel, plus the subject she is painting: her husband's trawler. He is not on board, though; he is buried at sea. She outlived him by 36 years but never got over her Skipper's loss. Even as an elderly matron, she memorializes his life at sea and his death so long ago. Bosque Bello Cemetery. [2009]

Monday, July 21, 2014

Auburndale, Florida

Artist Buried Here:  Being creative is good therapy: those who succeed at it are able to breaks the constraints of space and time. Here, a pictogram from the other side delivers advice to the living: Use art as self-prescribed therapy. And, what a great name for an artist! Auburndale Cemetery. [2014]

Friday, July 18, 2014

Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

Kennett Square ~ Mushroom Capital of the World:  You are likely to find a break of mushrooms in shady areas of cemeteries all over the humid regions of the U.S., but few will last as long as this one (from 1988 according to the inscription). The story it has to tell is the story of Kennett Square's economic base and the story of at least one person who worked in the fungus industry. Union Hill Cemetery. [2014]

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

Kennett Square ~ Mushroom Capital of the World:  If you happened to stumble upon the Quaker Meeting House in Kennett Square, you would have a clue about the origin of the region's mushroom industry. The followers of George Fox were the original entrepreneurs. But, mushrooms have always required lots of labor for harvesting. The first wave of immigrants to work for the entrepreneurs were Italians, immigrants who came to the U.S. as stone cutters. They eventually made the mushroom economy their own, as you can tell by the name on this headstone and others. Guess what immigrant wave now provides the hand labor needed to keep the industry afloat. St. Patrick's Cemetery. [2014]

Monday, July 14, 2014

Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

Kennett Square ~ Mushroom Capital of the World:  Although 'mushroom capital of the world' might be a bit of promotional hyperbole, it is true that half of the US mushroom harvest comes from the countryside around Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, right outside of Philadelphia. In fact, as the industry was getting started in the 1800s, the horse manure on which the mushrooms grew would come out from center city. (No cars until the 20th century, remember!) It was perfect for agaricus bisporus, which isn't a green plant and needs to get all of its nutrients from the medium in which is grows. So, where would you go to see how deeply mushrooms have penetrated local culture? St. Patrick's Cemetery. [2014]

Friday, July 11, 2014

Franklin, West Virginia

Expressions of Grief:  Some grandchildren will go to the cemetery to meet their grandparents. They may even bring a picture they have just colored in Sunday school. For the parents, it's a grieving ceremony; for the child it's a family ritual: nothing less, nothing more. The picture? Jesus cleanses the lepers. Cedar Hill Cemetery. [2014]

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Plymouth, Massachusetts

Expressions of Grief:  A young girl's dad died when he was only 32 years old. Nine years later, in the place where he lies buried, a daughter that hardly knew him expresses her grief and lets the world know: "Dad, you'll be in my heart always and forever." Plymouth Cemetery. [2008]

9 Years without You

Monday, July 7, 2014

Itasca, Texas

Expressions of Grief:  Post-it Notes are the ultimate in ephemera, but feelings of grief last a lifetime. Fifteen years to the day after someone's mother was whisked away on the wings of time, this Post-it was placed on her headstone: "Miss Yu. Love Yu. See Yu When I See Yu." Luke Tipton Cemetery. [2012]

Friday, July 4, 2014

Prattville, Alabama

Let the Methodist New Year Begin!  In fact, let the new year begin with fireworks. That's one way of thinking about the Cross and Flame: as a fire cracker, an explosion of the spirit, a celebration of freedom in Christ. But, unlike a firecracker, this flame burns forever, just as the love of God and the love of  man, her man, burns forever. To make that clear, she has borrowed a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning: "I shall but love thee better after death." Memory Gardens. [2013]

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, -- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! -- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Rainelle, West Virginia

Let the Methodist New Year Begin!  Perhaps the cross-and-flame is this couple's way of saying thank you to a church that saw them through a family tragedy. It looks like their son passed away long before he should have. Wallace Memorial Cemetery. [2010]

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Maysville, Kentucky

Let the Methodist New Year Begin!  But beware: each passing year puts stress on the United Methodist Church. So many of the Baby Boom generation have been loyal Methodists, including these two. When their generation passes away, however, expect a demographic earthquake in the church. The baby boomers had fewer children, and the ones they did have are not as devoted to organized religion as their parents. Maysville-Mason County Cemetery. [2013]

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Athens, Ohio

Let the Methodist New Year Begin!  As the New York Times reminded readers of its front page last week, the United Methodist Church has 7 million members in the United States. When it was formed in 1968 (in its latest American incarnation), however, total membership totaled 11 million. Why the drop? Here, in one of the most Methodist areas of the country, lies at least part of the explanation. West Union Street Cemetery. [2014]