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]

Monday, October 20, 2014

Arcade, New York

Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Cemetery:  Peter and Paul Cemetery is located in the Diocese of Buffalo. The Hudson Valley is located on the other side of the state. But, it seems to have been the Hudson Valley school of nineteenth century Romantic painters who set the tone for the scenes seen in Arcade's burial ground. The Romantics excluded humanity and focused on idealizing the natural environment. With that in mind, take away the house and fence, and you will find an awfully romantic setting for one family's memories. [2013]

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Heaven as the Old Farmstead:  The barn, a typical Pennsylvania barn, looks authentic, so maybe this is a realistic glimpse of the farm where she grew up. In fact, that might be her in the pasture, along with three different barnyard species. Do you get the idea that the goats must have been her favorite? Mechanicsburg Cemetery. [2014]

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

McDonough, Georgia

Heaven as the Old Farmstead:   Look familiar? It should, right down to the setting sun. Copy art can be so useful to monument makers. But, in this scene there is not a living soul around. So, who's going to milk the Holsteins? Eastlawn Cemetery. [2014]

Monday, October 13, 2014

Batesville, Indiana

Heaven as the Old Farmstead:  Judging from the mountain in the background, it may not have been the one they owned, but it functions as a reasonable stand-in. Southern Indiana is flat farming country and many headstones in the area memorialize (and idealize) life on the land. Quiz time: What breed of cow? St. Louis Catholic Cemetery. [2013]

Friday, October 10, 2014

Alexandria, Kentucky

Heaven as the Old Homestead:  These are the Baby Boomers. They loved living in the suburbs and making the most of mobility. In this case, they look pretty isolated, so it's good they had a few vehicles at their disposal. Do you recognize their nearest neighbor? He appears to be a welcoming sort who lived right up the road. "Come in," said Jesus. "My house is now your house." Alexandria Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Little Genesee, New York

Heaven as the Old Homestead:  These are the folks who begat the Baby Boom Generation, the high fertility epoch that followed World War II. To remind us how they also changed the landscape, they have chosen to memorialize their single-family detached home. It must have been at the center of their lives. Why else would it be at the center of their headstone? And, why else would the lawn surrounding their house match the lawn surrounding their grave? Wells Cemetery. [2013]

Monday, October 6, 2014

Wellington, Colorado

Heaven as the Old Homestead:  The Swift Family Homestead was established in Angelica, New York, in 1908. Mr. Swift would have been born there less than a decade later, and it seems to have provided him with a lifetime of fond memories: of warmth, love, security, adventure, and maybe even romance. He and his wife are now with the angels, but their remains are not in Angelica; they are in Wellington. If memories are strong enough to follow us across a continent, can they also follow us into heaven? Highland Cemetery. [2013]

Friday, October 3, 2014

Sturbridge, Massachusetts

Obelisks as Memorials: The definition of obelisk is provided by Merriam-Webster (headquartered in nearby Springfield): "a tall, four-sided stone column that becomes narrower toward the top and that ends in a point." Look carefully at this memorial pillar. Is it an obelisk? Or is it a daughter product of stimulus diffusion? A tapering hexagonal prism crowned by a hexagonal pyramid. North Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Obelisks as Memorials: Along the Nile, obelisks honored the sun god Re. In fact, that seems to be why they point skyward. Some see them as representing rays of the sun. In the American context, however, all anyone can think of is the Washington Monument. If George Washington has one, all great men must. Mount Calvary Cemetery. [2013]