Friday, January 29, 2016

Quartzsite, Arizona

Focus on Hi Jolly Cemetery:  Somebody's Dad is buried here. His inscription says "Lost 8-24-2014"; his obituary says "he used his wings to fly on August 24, 2014." His wings are etched into that metal plate you see on his body stone. We know he is missed: "Happy Father's Day Love You." But, we don't know the full story. What's the lesson? Even if we lead a full life, we never leave behind the full story. It's one of the laws of fatality. [2015]

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Quartzsite, Arizona

Focus on Hi Jolly Cemetery: In 1987, only a few years after it was erected, this windmill celebrated the power of the desert wind and, also, the life of a World War II veteran. By 2015, the blades had fallen off like the petals of a flower at the end of summer. But, the wind continued to blow. [1987 and 2015]

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Quartzsite, Arizona

Focus on Hi Jolly Cemetery: A miner, right? Just hoping to find those veins of gold in all that quartz (or all those washes). In the almost thirty years between photographs, the essence of this grave has remained pretty much unchanged. Most of the grave goods have disappeared, but not the gold pan. [1987 and 2015]

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Quartzsite, Arizona

Focus on Hi Jolly Cemetery:  Here are two wooden markers. Mike's is recent. Jose's, below, is not. Mike speaks to us from the grave: "I flew through the clouds as a skydiver, and explored the bottom of the sea....I traveled our land in an old Dodge van. But the only thing I never found....was me." From Jose's grave, no voice emanates; all we know is recorded on the small plaque provided by the town (name and year of death, 1883). So, what's the lesson Mr. Loquacious can learn from Mr. Taciturn? [2015]

Monday, January 25, 2016

Quartzsite, Arizona

Focus on Hi Jolly Cemetery: When people died in the desert, they were buried in the desert. In Quartzsite, Arizona, that meant a simple grave with a wooden marker or a block of quartz. (The latter captures the spirit of place so much better.) A modern plot like this contrasts sharply with the oldest graves, which date back to the 1800s. Hi Jolly himself is buried by the pyramid that honors his role in trying to get a "camel-express" service going across the Sonoran Desert. [2015]

Friday, January 22, 2016

Killeen, Texas

Cemeteries as Flag Charts ~ Cuba:  What's the score?  Baseball 5; Cuba 1. For this American, it was baseball above all, but still a decided nod to his cultural identity. You know he must have played baseball himself, and he must have been inspired by all the Cubans who threw off the shackles of their homeland to play for American teams. Killeen City Cemetery. [2015]

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Miami, Florida

Cemeteries as Flag Charts ~ Cuba:  Just about half of all Cuban Americans live in Miami, making them one of the most geographically concentrated ethnic groups in the United States. Not surprisingly, Miami's cemeteries are full of Cuban flags: symbols of a culture and revolutionary spirit, not the regime from which most of them fled. Woodlawn Park. [2014]

Monday, January 18, 2016

Springfield, Massachusetts

Cemeteries as Flag Charts ~ Cuba:  Cuba's national flag first flew over Morro Castle in Havana in 1902. Today, it flies over graves in cemeteries all over the United States: wherever Cuban immigrants have made their homes. The U.S. flag inspired the design. The American stars and stripes were born as a revolutionary flag and that is exactly what was needed in Cuba: a flag to commemorate a revolution, a revolution against Spain that brought the Cuban people long-overdue independence. Oak Grove Cemetery. [2013]

Friday, January 15, 2016

Oxford, Pennsylvania

History of Aeronautics ~ Chapter 6:  In our imaginations, we boldly go where no one has gone before. In our lives, we trek through each day as if aiming for a distant star. In our actions, we make each enterprise a symbol of our worth. In our soul, we shape our values to please our god. If we keep extending the domain of earthbound humanity, will we eventually discover heaven? If we do, we might hear every Earthing utter the same command: "Beam me up Scotty." Oxford Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Grand Forks, North Dakota

History of Aeronautics ~ Chapter 5:  Everything points heaven-ward: the granite marker, the streamlined jet, and, of course, the departed soul. There's going to be no crash landing here. And, in this position, the airplane becomes a cross, an empty cross: no human pilot needed. Memorial Park. [2012]

Monday, January 11, 2016

Windsor, Connecticut

History of Aeronautics ~ Chapter 4:  How do you symbolize the golden age of aviation? With a biplane, of course. It takes you right back to the first decades of the 20th century and that cadre of pilots that made God's domain our domain. The early masters of the open cockpit were called Early Birds. You qualified if you piloted an airplane before December 17, 1916. The Early Birds were in their prime when he was born just a few years later. St. Josephs Cemetery. [2013]

Friday, January 8, 2016

Lyndon Center, Vermont

History of Aeronautics ~ Chapter 3:  Aerodynamic principles were successfully applied to air transport in 1903, only three decades before these two were born. When they were children, the era of commercial passenger-carrying airplanes began, and the era of commercial passenger carrying airships ended in its infancy with the Hindenburg disaster. The two competing technologies are portrayed on the headstone here. [2009]

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Greeley, Colorado

History of Aeronautics ~ Chapter 2: Early hot-air balloons were nothing more than kites carrying lanterns. But in the late 1700s, during an era when all good things came from France, the Montgolfier brothers sent the first human beings into the air in defiance of gravity. A ceiling on human occupance of the earth had been broken and imaginations soared. What would you like for your ascent into heaven? A hot air balloon, perhaps? Linn Grove Cemetery. [2013]

Monday, January 4, 2016

Lacey, New Jersey

History of Aeronautics ~ Chapter 1:  The age of aeronautics began with the kite more than 2000 years ago in China. The conquest of the heavens had begun. Kites have always lifted our spirits wherever we fly them, but here's a boy who thought the beach was best. Then, one day, his buddies watched as his spirit was lifted beyond the clouds to become a part of the heavenly domain that he once had challenged from the shore. Good Luck Cemetery. [2015]