Monday, June 26, 2017

Brunswick, Georgia

Commemorating Historic Cemeteries:  The nineteenth century saw the rise of industrial economies and the concomitant expansion of city populations. That meant more people were dying in cities, too. So many, in fact, that the old church yards soon ran out of space. Voila! The rural cemetery, or garden cemetery, was born. The first was on the outskirts of Paris. By 1838, the rural cemetery movement had reached Brunswick, Georgia, making Brunswick a little more like Paris! Buried here were "over 100 Civil War Veterans," including Capt. Douglas Risley, who went on to found the city's first school for African Americans. The next question, however, is not answered by the historical market: How many of the students who attended his school were actually buried here with him? Oak Grove Cemetery. [2010]

Friday, June 23, 2017

Richmond, Virginia

Commemorating Historic Cemeteries:  Six cemeteries (associated with different burial societies) are to be found on Barton Heights. The earliest dates to 1815. Compare that date to the year this historical market was erected:1998. It took until the late 20th century for historical markers to begin commemorating the peoples and places of African-American history. Before that, the only history worth noting was what happened during the Civil War! Whit Monday is seven weeks after Eastern Monday; it is the second day of Pentecost. Barton Heights Cemeteries. [2014]

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Franklin, Tennessee

Commemorating Historic Cemeteries:  With the American and French Revolutions as his models, a slave named Toussaint L'Ouverture led the rebellion that resulted in Haiti's independence in 1804. Of course, he is not buried here, but his memory is kept alive by virtue of a Tennessee historical marker. Who is buried here? People of African descent, many nameless, who, by virtue of the segregated society in which they lived, needed a burying place of their own. Toussaint L'Ouverture Cemetery. [2010]

Monday, June 19, 2017

Austin, Texas

Commemorating Historic Cemeteries:  People buried here may be of historical significance, but so is the cemetery itself. That's why it has a historical marker of its own. This plot of land was acquired in the 1920s by a private cemetery corporation, then by the city of Austin. Since then, chunks have been sliced off for other purposes, like the building of a rec center. Who's the most famous person buried here? Author James A. Michener.  How would we know such things if it were not for the historical marker? Austin Memorial Park Cemetery. [2015]

Friday, June 16, 2017

Sissonville, West Virginia

Pets at Peace: "Your paws left prints on our hearts." Yes, they did, Stretch! In fact, we still make sure there are flowers at your grave. What a Christmas present you were! Floral Hills Cemetery. [2017]

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Sissonville, West Virginia

Pets at Peace:  Merrill Fisher wrote the verses that welcome visitors to the pet precinct of Floral Hills: ". . . He is sadly missed, but we are so much better for his having shared his life with us. We can think of nothing, and perhaps no one, that has better taught us to give and receive love openly, unselfishly, and unashamedly, as this one small furry friend." Mr. Fisher must have had Tobby in mind. Floral Hills Cemetery. [2017]

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sissonville, West Virginia

Pets at Peace:  A cat with a first, middle, and last name: Another example of anthropomorphism. And, if you ask yourself if pets have souls (anthropomorphism once again!), the answer here would be yes. The butterfly is usually employed to symbolize the soul. Floral Hills Cemetery. [2017]

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sissonville, West Virginia

Pets at Peace:  Meet Moonpie! Or, at least a life-sized effigy. "Our Angel" must have been very much a part of the family, so beloved his masters couldn't quite let go. Now, imagine a cemetery for humans where life-sized statues of the deceased stood at the foot of every grave. Floral Hills Cemetery. [2017]

Monday, June 12, 2017

Sissonville, West Virginia

Pets at Peace:  Squint a little bit and you might discern that this is no human grave. Rather, two beloved pets are buried here. Ever hear of anthropomorphism? Here's an example. A section of the cemetery has been set aside for pets. Floral Hills Cemetery. [2017]

Friday, June 9, 2017

Charlton, Massachusetts

Say Goodbye to Your Pastor:  That doesn't mean send him or her off to the cemetery; it just means that your old pastor may have to move on this month to a new charge. In the United Methodist Church, ministers serve at the pleasure of the Bishop. They are assigned to churches, not hired by them. The minister buried here would have served under the same rules, even though he served the Methodist Episcopal Church. Itinerating is a deeply-embedded Wesleyan tradition. As for the medallion: It proclaims the preacher buried here to be a Veteran of the Cross. Union Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Lewisburg, West Virginia

Say Goodbye to Your Pastor: Horses helped the early Methodist church in America adapt to a rapidly expanding rural frontier. Horses gave circuit riders the mobility they needed to become more like their mentor, John Wesley, who famously said:  "I look upon the whole world as my parish." See the grid of latitude and longitude in the medallion's background? It symbolizes the world. Rosewood Cemetery. [2016]

Monday, June 5, 2017

Macon, Georgia

Say Goodbye to Your Pastor: The Methodist year ends this month. That means a slew of United Methodist churches around the country will be saying goodbye to their old pastors and welcoming new ones. In the past, they would have departed and arrived on horseback, and on Sundays the circuit-riding preachers would have galloped from sanctuary to sanctuary bringing the word of God to multiple congregations on a single "circuit." The symbolism of the circuit-riding preacher is deeply embedded in Methodist tradition. Riverside Cemetery. [2015]

Friday, June 2, 2017

Laurel Hiil, Florida

Defined by the Regional Economy ~ Logging:  Here's a  logging truck made of a log. This one isn't on the road in Florida's Okaloosa County, however. It's on a "short haul to heaven." But, if the truck doesn't quite get him there, a pair of boots is on call for a sprint across the finish line. Almarante Cemetery. [2017]

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Andalusia, Alabama

Defined by the Regional Economy ~ Logging:  Here's a headstone that puts someone in his place: the Southern pine forest that is the source of an income for so many people in rural Alabama. Yet, we also know something about the person himself: He was "a friend to all both near and far." Stone Lake Gardens. [2017]

Monday, May 29, 2017

Appleton, Alabama

Defined by the Regional Economy ~ Logging:  Here lies a truck driver, and a proud one at that! Now you know what he did for a living. What did he do in his spare time? Went fishing. What else? He tended to his family: "Beloved husband, father, son and brother." Weaver Cemetery. [2017]

Friday, May 26, 2017

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Spring Comes to the Cemetery:  White gives way to green just as winter gives way to spring. In South Central Pennsylvania, it happens in mid-May. Winter is, for sure, over; summer is, for sure, coming. The dogwood marks the transition. Resurrection Cemetery. [2014]

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Wilmington, Delaware

Spring Comes to the Cemetery:  Azaleas, buttercups, and dandelions: a perfect palette for springtime, a perfect complement to a refreshed verdure, a perfect way to celebrate May Day. Americans may ignore May Day, but it's one of the most important holidays for those from the Slavic east. Lombardy Cemetery. [2017]

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Jay, Florida

Spring Comes to the Cemetery:  Wildflowers do such a wonderful job of bringing the golden orb to earth's surface. Every cemetery should have a cover of color to welcome the high-sun season. The green will last for the next six months, but the yellow will last for only a few weeks. Whether you are alive or dead: Enjoy it! Jay Cemetery. [2017]

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Guymon, Oklahoma

Spring Comes to the Cemetery:  Late April brings the redbuds to life in the Oklahoma panhandle. It may be the region's most popular ornamental tree. That means, of course, that it is a common component of cemetery landscapes as well as front yards, thereby making last resting places more like life resting places. Elmhurst Cemetery. [2017]

Monday, May 22, 2017

Glassboro, New Jersey

Spring Comes to the Cemetery:  Cemeteries are at their best in spring and fall, the colorful seasons. Blue skies are part of the palette year-round, but spring brings renewed green, with torches of pink, and speckles of yellow. Manahath Cemetery. [2017]

Friday, May 19, 2017

Jay, Florida

The Holy Estate of Matrimony ~ Wedding Bells Ring:  Wedding bells usually indicate a church wedding, but the day they got married was during the Great Depression, so it was probably a simple ceremony for family and friends. He was three years older than his bride, so it looks like he may have waited for her to graduate from high school. Jay Cemetery. [2017]

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Earth, Texas

The Holy Estate of Matrimony ~ Wedding Bells Ring:  He was a veteran of World War II. She was a veteran of forty-three years of marriage. With three sons, their family must have been the best on Earth, that perfect post-war household of the 1950s. She saw to it that he was honored when he passed: "Strong, faithful, loving, and kind. What wonderful memories you left behind." Who will see to it that she is honored when her time comes? We probably know the answer to that question. Earth Cemetery. [2016]

Monday, May 15, 2017

South Charleston, West Virginia

The Holy Estate of Matrimony ~ Wedding Bells Ring:  Bells rang on February 8, 1949, the day they were married (love birds that they were!). They made it almost fifty years. Wedding bells usually suggest a church wedding. Sunset Memorial Park. [2015]

Friday, May 12, 2017

Montgomery, Alabama

The Holy Estate of Matrimony ~ No Rings:  What confidence is exhibited here: confidence in their marriage, that is. They have been married since 1976, and felt the need to record that date on their memorial. They will remain married until one is put beneath the sod, and, judging from their ages, that may be well into the future. Their expectation: to be together forever. Alabama Heritage Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Key West, Florida

The Holy Estate of Matrimony ~ No Rings:  "Childhood sweethearts. She was eleven and he was twelve." They got married as teenagers (probably right after she graduated from high school), and it lasted for 47 years. In life, they had a story to tell. In death, they continue to tell it. Key West Cemetery. [2014]

Monday, May 8, 2017

Frederick, Maryland

The Holy Estate of Matrimony ~ No Rings:  Here's a leap-year wedding, and just one day before the 29th of February. Maybe she proposed to him. That was the old tradition: During leap years, the woman could propose to the man. She brought to the marriage an Irish heritage; he brought a German heritage. What else can you tell from this headstone? They were Phillies fanatics. They were immensely proud of their hometown (see the spires?). They were Christians. Want to know more? Just Koogle it. Mt. Olivet Cemetery. [2014]

Friday, May 5, 2017

Grand Forks, North Dakota

The Holy Estate of Matrimony ~ One Ring:  Wedding dates are often inscribed on the hoop's inside. This couple was married in June, still the most popular month for weddings in the United States (though September and October are catching up). Any issue after the wedding? Yes, they are named in the footnote. Memorial Park. [2012]

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Ellsworth, Wisconsin

The Holy Estate of Matrimony ~ One Ring:  Why do so many wedding rings, replete with wedding dates, show up on headstones? Here's one theory: To remind him not to forget their anniversary (like he did so often when they were alive)! Maple Grove Cemetery. [2012]

Monday, May 1, 2017

Shippensburg, Pennsylvania

The Holy Estate of Matrimony ~ One Ring:  If getting married means that "two shall become one," then one ring is all you need on a headstone. On the other hand, maybe there are two rings on this headstone, but all you see is one. It might be an optical illusion. After all, you see only one cross even though it is made up of two parts. Now: How many love birds do you see? Spring Hill Cemetery. [2013]

Friday, April 28, 2017

Knapp, Wisconsin

The Holy Estate of Matrimony ~ Two Rings:  Why do people throw rice at wedding? It's nothing more than a fertility ritual. "May your marriage be as fertile as these grains of rice!" The gain could be wheat or corn, but the message would be the same. The triumph of rice as the traditional grain is probably explained by the color of the milled kernels: White matches the wedding dress, and in both circumstances symbolizes purity (which the couple is are about to "throw away"!).  Forrest Hill Cemetery. [2012]

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Boone, North Carolina

The Holy Estate of Matrimony ~ Two Rings:  Genesis 2:24: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Mark 10:7-8: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh." 1 + 1 = 1 Not very scientific, but true! Mountlawn Memorial Park. [2012]

Monday, April 24, 2017

Portales, New Mexico

The Holy Estate of Matrimony ~ Two Rings:  How times have changed! When they got married in 1927, he was 20 and she was 14. Contrary to the conventional wisdom that prevails today, their marriage lasted until death: 73 years. Even though she was younger, she passed away just a year and a half after he did. What happened? She died of a broken heart. Portales Cemetery. [2017]

Friday, April 21, 2017

Decatur, Ilinois

The Holy Estate of Matrimony:   It looks like they loved the great outdoors, their horses and pets. It also looks like they loved each other. On her wedding day she got a kiss that lasted a lifetime. And then, she was gone. And now, he remembers. Boiling Springs Cemetery. [2015]

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Valle Crucis, North Carolina

The Holy Estate of Matrimony:  They were married at the Naval Memorial Chapel in Norfolk, Virginia, and are eternally proud of it. Lots of tombstones announce the date of marriage, but few announce the place of marriage. If the pastor here at Holy Cross Episcopal Church ever forgets his Bible, all he has to do is head outside to the graveyard. Eight Bible verses (presumably his and her favorites) are there on this headstone and ready to be quoted from the pulpit.  [2012]

Monday, April 17, 2017

Cynthiana, Kentucky

The Holy Estate of Matrimony:  She was born in the spring. He was born in the summer. They decided to get married in the fall. Nicely balanced holidays! Of all the images that could have been etched into the 'rock of ages,' they chose one from the first hour of their marriage, when they posed together in front of the alter as man and wife. The words that were just spoken from the pulpit:  "and the two shall become one flesh." Battle Grove Cemetery. [2013]

Friday, April 14, 2017

Rincón, Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands

Focus on Rincón Cemetery:  Nase in 1912 and muri in 2000, she just made it into the third millennium. That's Papiamento, but no translation needed. There are two other Papiamento phrases: (1) Aki Ta Drumi, and (2) Sosega Na Pas. The first translates as 'Here Sleeps'; the second as 'Rest in Peace.' Then, there is the three-syllable 'mother': mamama, which sounds so much more mournful than mama. [2017]