Friday, January 30, 2015

Windsor, Connecticut

Minimalist Memorials:  Name and dates engraved in fine-grained granite: Only four facts remain to tell the story of this octogenarian's life. It's a simple style of memorialization that is part of every graveyard. Why? (a) Personal preferences. (b) Financial constraints. (c) Cultural norms. (d) Cemetery restrictions. Whatever the reason, memorials like this seem to underscore the role of death as the great equalizer. St. Joseph Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Minimalist Memorials:  Minimalism on cemetery memorials did not begin with memorial parks after World War II. Grave markers are expensive and, therefore, often small. Sometimes, there is room for only a name and years of birth and death. The lone mark of status on this headstone is the use of embossed letters rather than engraved ones. Embossing like this is rare, if not completely gone, from memorialization as it exists today. Mt. Calvary Cemetery. [2013]

Monday, January 26, 2015

Oak Hall, Virginia

Minimalist Memorials:  Name, year of birth, year of death:  That's the least you can put on a grave marker. Forget the middle initial, month, and day. For several decades after World War II, there was little attempt to turn cemetery memorials over to the narrative arts. The spirit of the times was captured in The Organization Man, "the book that defined a generation." It was originally published in 1956 and called attention to the suppression of individuality in favor of serving 'the organization.' Conformity was at a peak. The principles outlined by William H. Whyte are evident in the cookie-cutter suburbs and the overly-organized cemeteries of the era. Downing's Cemetery. [2013]

Friday, January 23, 2015

St. Simons Island, Georgia

Keepers of the Light:  "St. Simons Lighthouse was my home."  That's the one fact about her life that Lucile S. Osborne wanted everyone to know. If the lighthouse was her home, that would have put her at the station during the tenure of Carl Olaf Svendsen, who may be her father.  (Note the middle initial.) It looks like she married a grandson of an earlier keeper, Frederick Osborne, thus uniting the families of two keepers of the light. Christ Church Cemetery. [2009 and 2007]

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

St. Simons Island, Georgia

Keepers of the Light:  J. Harold Svendsen was never a keeper of the St. Simons Island Light. Nevertheless, he has a light tower on his headstone. Judging from his year of birth, he is probably the grandson of keeper Carl Olaf Svendson. Christ Church Cemetery. [2009]

Monday, January 19, 2015

St. Simon's Island, Georgia

Keepers of the Light:  There was a time when every lighthouse needed a keeper, someone to replenish the whale oil and, later, the kerosene. Carl Olaf Svendsen was one of the keepers of the St. Simons's Island Light Station. He began in 1907 and served until 1935. The portrait below shows him as a young man on the left, with his brother and father. The body stone does a good job of defining the geography of his life:  He was of Norwegian origin, was born in Wales, and died in South Carolina. Christ Church Cemetery. [2009 and 2007]

Source: South Carolina Lighthouses
by Margie Willis and Kim McDermott

Friday, January 16, 2015

Pennsville, New Jersey

"Chase the Shades of Night Away": Here's a lighthouse that should probably be called a light tower. It's tall enough to scrape the heavens. Just compare it to the height of the palm trees and the position of the clouds. The stairway inside is going to keep the climber climbing forever. St George Episcopal Church Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Plymouth, Massachusetts

"Chase the Shades of Night Away":  You should be worried. Here's a lighthouse too close to the edge of an eroding bluff. This landform, which was created by glacial deposition, will soon succumb to the forces of erosion originating with wave action, especially that which accompanies high tides during storms. Soon, wave-cut notches will undermine the exposed edge of the moraine, gravity will take over, and downslope movement will result. At some point, the lighthouse itself will become a victim of the mass wasting, and its skeletal remains will ultimately become part of Neptune's domain. Enough physical geography for you? Or would you like to add rising sea level to the prognosis? Vine Hill Cemetery. [2008]

Monday, January 12, 2015

Wellsville, New York

"Chase the Shades of Night Away": Copy art comes to the graveyard. The idea that the vertical edge of a tombstone can make a lighthouse look almost three-dimensional inspires others to want the same thing. Soon, supply follows demand, and variations on the theme proliferate. Woodlawn Cemetery. [2013]

Friday, January 9, 2015

Frederica, Delaware

"Chase the Shades of Night Away": One lighthouse chases away the shades of night. Two seagulls soar in synchronized flight. Put them together and what to you get? Eternal life, but for one, not yet. Barretts Chapel Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Tampa, Florida

"Chase the Shades of Night Away": Here is proof that perpendicular lighthouse DNA can be impregnated with granitic cemetery DNA. Like the family name it carries (see it?), this lighthouse looks like it has decidedly New England roots. Myrtle Hill Cemetery. [2014]

Monday, January 5, 2015

St. Pauls, North Carolina

"Chase the Shades of Night Away": Lighthouses have become entrenched in popular culture and also in cemetery landscapes. The concept of eternal light has deep roots in Christian teachings. Here's a hymn from 1817 that lays the groundwork:  "Holy spirit, light divine, shine upon this heart of mine; chase the shades of night away, turn the darkness into day." Thanks for the inspiration, Andrew Reed! Oak Ridge Cemetery. [2012]

Friday, January 2, 2015

Norfolk, Virginia

Crossing Time:  Here lies a horologist, a dedicated professional right to the very end. Now, may he Rest in Peace, no longer governed by the clock. What was (or should have been) his sign-off line? 'Horologically Yours,' of course. Forest Lawn Cemetery. [2014]