Showing 1 - 10 of 15 posts found matching keyword: cemetery
Tuesday 14 November 2023
Questions from Hannah, part 2:
Why do you like cemeteries so much?
Because they are awesome. You can keep your forests and "grand" canyons. I'll take a cemetery any day.
Cemeteries are a reminder that the world wasn't built for me, that life only has the meaning we give it, that the journey is always more important than the destination. Memento mori!
When built right, the Victorian way, cemeteries are a delightful combination of storybook and park, usually filled with a bunch of spectacularly crafted art. As a bonus, most living people treat cemeteries with a serene reverence you don't find anywhere else, so cemeteries are simultaneously full of people and very quiet.
Truthfully, I think the idea of burying people in boxes in the ground is kind of ridiculous, but I love, love, love the stone monuments left above ground to mark their territory. If nothing else, those tombstones say "I was here," and that sort of yelling into the void of eternity speaks to me. What is a tombstone but a very succinct and enduring blog post?
And why do you call them cemeteries instead of graveyards?
Because that's what they are.
In the modern Western tradition, a graveyard is a type of cemetery that is on a church grounds while a cemetery is a community's common burial ground not necessarily connected to a specific church. For example, my town's local burial ground (established 1833) is officially Oak Hill Cemetery, though there are plenty of churches around here with their own much smaller graveyards. It's my experience that cemeteries are often more welcoming to visitors (and usually contain more delightfully ostentatious monuments) than graveyards, but I've been in plenty of delightful graveyards, too.
Personally, I can't say as I like the word "graveyard." A yard of graves sounds so very bleak, while there's almost something celebratory in a "cemetery." I like both of those much more than I like the euphemism "memorial park." The government should make you explicitly declare if you have a park full of corpses.
Looking at Online Etymology Dictionary, it would appear that both "graveyard" and "cemetery" have historically referred to more or less the same thing, so their use prior to the 19th century probably derives from whatever languages were spoken by a region's ancestors. And I suppose that maybe you live somewhere where "graveyard" has remained the preferred term, which is fine by me. Regional differences are fun!
You often mention the fact that you work at night and sleep through the morning; is your brain really more alert in the middle of the night?
I do think I do my best coding and most often find myself "in the zone" between 1 and 3AM, but I don't know if I would say that I am especially more alert in the darkness than I am in sunlight — I'm no vampire. I really like the late night because everyone else is asleep. For one thing, it's useful for my work: coding is easier without distractions, and it's easier to update websites, databases, and video game files when they aren't being as widely used. But I chose my occupation, not the other way around. I just like being the only person around. It's like the entire world becomes a cemetery, and you already know how I feel about that.
Wednesday 24 July 2019
Forest Lawn Memorial Park is just around the corner from my Dad's new house. It's been there since 1956, which means it was there when I was in high school. I must have passed it hundreds of times, but I'd never been in. Not until this week when the beautiful weather made a side trip necessary.
I've never liked it. Oak Hill is the older cemetery closer to town. As previous posts on this blog prove, I like it fine. Forest Lawn, on the other hand, has always seemed to me more like a small, sterile golf course than a cemetery. Now that I've been in, I'll second my own first impression.
I've never been a believer that cemeteries should remain solemn and unused plots of ground. If you can't celebrate the lives of the dead, why remember them at all? Besides, a tiny metal plate with a stack of fake flowers is hardly how I'd want anyone to remember me.
The rules are posted by the entrance. The first one is no kids (living ones, I assume). The second is no recreational equipment (read: no fun). The third is no pets ("Leashed Or Unleashed": even fish are out). That sounds awfully exclusionary, but read to the bottom and you'll see that "Properly Attired Walkers And Joggers Are Welcome Except During Funeral Services." Thanks for that offer, but I think we'll keep on passing by.
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Sunday 18 March 2018
Walking through Oak Hill Cemetery last week with Mom and the girls, we passed the burial plot for J.W.A. and Zippora Rowland. As you can see, only one of them was buried there.
You'll note that there is no death date for Zippora, though the engraver presumed it would happen sometime in the 20th century. That marker visible on the bottom right isn't for her, it's J.W.A.'s. Why is his body on Zippora's side of the bed? That's just the tip of the iceberg of what I don't know about Zippora. Who was she, and why isn't she buried along with her name? Of course this made me curious, so I did a little Googling.
It seems J.W.A. Rowland lived most of his life not in Newnan but in Bowdon in neighboring Carroll County. I don't know what he did for a living, but the Carroll Free Press of the late 19th century reports that he was the initial vice president of the Carroll County Chorus Choir Association. (That meeting appears to have been in the Shiloh UMC building which still stands halfway between Carrollton and Bowdon.) Still in Bowdon in 1892, he was witness on a U.S. Patent application for Ocran D. Bunt's plow fender (patent #467853). "James W.A. Rowland" appears as a 72 year old man living in Newnan, GA by the time of the 1920 census. Nearer his death, he was a co-plaintiff in a 1921 lawsuit against the Central of Georgia Railway Company in which he won $250. (They were riding in a buggy "when the mule drawing it ran away and threw them out," causing injuries. It's not clear what role the railroad played, but the court said they were guilty.)
None of those references mention Zippora.
Zippora Rowland does show up in the 1930 census as a 62-year-old woman living in Newnan, GA. "Zippora" was never a popular name, but I don't find any reference to her in the local papers of the era.
So whatever happened to Zippora? Did she remarry? Did she die somewhere else, and no one knew to bring her back to Newnan where her marker was waiting for her? I like to think she's still alive somewhere, enjoying the good life on her sesquicentennial birthday. Here's to you, Zippora!
Friday 8 July 2016
Okay, now that I'm rested, let's continue the vacation!
Day 4 (June 30): National Portrait Gallery
- National Portrait Gallery
- Smithsonian American Art Museum
- National Gallery Sculpture Garden
I loved the portrait and American art museums. Loved 'em. I could have spent the whole week in there.
America's Sweetheart, Myrna Loy
Day 5 (July 1): Newseum
- United States Capitol
- Library of Congress
- Supreme Court
The Newseum is the only museum we paid admission fee for. It was worth it. I must not have been the only person to think so; it was pretty crowded. The one exhibit that was totally empty was the section investigating journalistic ethics. I wish that was a joke.
Library of Congress Great Hall
Day 6 (July 2): Back to Virginia
- Arlington National Cemetery
- Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
- Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
- Thomas Jefferson Memorial
- George Mason Memorial
- National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial
- Air Force Memorial
- US Marine Corps Memorial
Udvar-Hazy is the satellite campus (ha, ha) of the Air and Space Museum located 30 minutes away from DC in Dulles, Virginia. Like all Smithsonian museums, admission is free. Parking will set you back $15. This museum is home to the Enola Gay and the Space Shuttle Discovery. It also has a Concorde and some foreign military aircraft, but otherwise, I didn't find it as impressive as the Warner Robins Museum of Aviation. At least in Warner Robbins, parking is free.
Remember the Maine
Day 7 (July 3): Lexington, VA
- Lee Chapel & Museum
- Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery
Lexington is home to Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Academy. No surprise it also has the final resting place of General Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Brian was very excited to stop here because it meant we'd completed our pilgrimage to the graves of all three men on Stone Mountain. (Lee and Jackson's horses, Traveller and Little Sorrel, respectively, are also on Stone Mountain, and both buried in Lexington as well.) Mission accomplished.
We returned home in the wee hours of July 4, and that was all right with me. I enjoyed the trip, but there's no place like home.
Wednesday 6 July 2016
Brian said, "Let's go to Washington DC," and I said, "Sure." That means its time for vacation photos! Yay!
Day 1 (June 27): Richmond, Virginia.
- Stonewall Jackson Statue
- Jefferson Davis Monument
- Robert E. Lee Memorial
- Hollywood Cemetery
- Historic Tredegar
- American Civil War Museum
- Virginia State Capitol
Richmond was the capital of the Confederate States of America, and it has a bit of a split personality. On one hand, they worship George Mason and Thomas Jefferson and their Declarations of rights. On the other hand, they've got serious monuments to General Lee and Jefferson Davis. Highlights in Richmond include the capitol building (designed by Jefferson) and Hollywood Cemetery (final resting place of Generals George Picket and J.E.B. Stuart, Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, and, or course, Jefferson Davis).
Day 2 (June 28): South side of the Washington Mall.
- Smithsonian Castle
- Smithsonian Sackler Gallery
- Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
- Hirshhorn Museum
This happened to be the week the Air and Space Museum celebrated its 40th anniversary. The years are beginning to show. To their credit, they are making an effort at updating their exhibits, including a newly refurbished USS Enterprise model (which I must admit I found way, way cooler than the Apollo 11 control module and the Wright Flyer).
Day 3 (June 29): North and west side of the Washington Mall.
- National Archives
- National Gallery of Art
- Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
- Smithsonian National Museum of American History
- National WWII Memorial
- 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence monument
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- Lincoln Memorial
What a disappointment the American History museum was. I remember loving it as a child, but it seems like most of what they have on display now was purchased from flea markets. I might as well have walked through my aunt's attic. On the other hand, the National Archives was even more awesome than I remember from 25 years ago. Its exhibits are truly historical and awe-inspiring.
That's a lot of sightseeing. My feet are tired. This tour will resume the day after tomorrow. Don't be late.
Friday 5 June 2015
Vacation Final Day: Road Trip
Brian works for a certain giant hotel conglomerate, so we thought we'd get a great rate staying in a hotel in North Charleston. Turns out he can't specify what kind of room he wants when he travels, so they tried to stick us with smoking. We politely declined.
That meant we had to find new digs somewhere else. This apparent fiasco turned out to be a boon. If you remember the first post in this series, you'll see we couldn't have been luckier in finding a room near Dairy Land.
We began the final day of our trip exploring this picturesque small town where it turns out the Tuskegee Airmen had received their final training during World War II.
Lest you think I'm just being a camera hog and that my big head is obscuring the full name of this glorious town, here's proof of what they put on their own trashcans.
Once Brian had finally had enough of Walter taking pictures of Walter, we hit the road. We chose to take the back roads home and drove through several small towns. You see the strangest things that way. Like this sign advertising a real restaurant in Bamberg, SC:
We drove through the practically deserted Blackville, SC and passed the Oliver Hardy Museum in Harlem, GA. We saw the smoldering ruin of the historic Sparta, GA courthouse that burned down mysteriously last August. Quite by accident, we found ourselves driving past Rock Hawk in Putnam County. Though both of us had visited Rock Hawk's bigger brother, Rock Eagle in Eatonton, neither of us had heard of Rock Hawk. So we dropped in for a look.
After climbing the observation tower, I'd love to tell you that I got some breathtaking pictures of an magnificent unexplained effigy, but my simple digital camera wasn't up to the task. You'd need a wide angle lens to take a picture that looks like anything other than a loose pile of rocks.
However, the Rock Hawk Effigy, Education Trails & Park contained much more than just the effigy itself. It was once the homestead of the slave-owning Little family, and they have two overgrown cemeteries hidden in the woods on the property. That was worth a brief hike through the tick-filled woods.
And that just about wraps up my vacation. I look forward to my next trip, wherever it might take me.
(Hopefully, it will take me back to Dairy Land.)
Wednesday 3 June 2015
Vacation Day 4: Charleston and Beaufort, SC
By day 4, Brian and I had visited almost everything we knew we wanted to see in Charleston, so we were looking for things a little off the more beaten paths. We decided to start the day by paying a visit to the only thing in Charleston that had lived through the American Revolution.
They estimate at the Angel Oak may be 400 years old. It looks it.
The thing that I wanted to do next was visit Magnolia Cemetery. Newnan's Oak Hill Cemetery is older, but Magnolia is much, much larger and, though I hate to say it, it's also much, much prettier. (What's with naming cemeteries after trees, anyway?)
Magnolia is adjacent to a complex of cemeteries, including St. Lawrence and the Lutheran's Bethany Cemetery filled with tombstones inscribed in German. The area is full of many stunning tributes to the dead.
Naturally, being a cemetery in Charleston, SC, it is chock full of monuments to dead Confederates. The men who died testing and running the world's first submarine to sink a ship, the H.L. Hunley, are all buried here (the ill-fated ship killed more Confederates than Yankees), as are many other C.S.A. officers, soldiers, and officials. There's even a monument to all the Germans who fought for the South.
As you can see, there are many spectacular monuments here, I couldn't stop snapping pictures. I took nearly 200. (Thank you digital camera technology!) Brian gave up trying to follow me and sat in his car playing with his smart phone. I tell you, kids today! Who'd rather look at digital pixels than fine statuary like these?
In a cemetery this size, the statuary is only part of the pleasure. There are a nearly endless variety of entertaining monuments. For example, C.S.A. Captain John C. Mitchell, who died during the Yankee siege of Fort Sumter in 1864, has his last words: "I willingly give my life for South Carolina. Oh! That I could have died for Ireland!" The tombstone for Corporal Allan Jackson explains that he survived being shot at the Battle of Fredericksburg only to die of Typhoid Fever in Richmond. And don't forget such great names as Harry Brotherhood and Dr. B.A. Muckenfuss. But my favorite tombstone of all:
After Brian finally dragged me from the cemeteries, we headed into downtown Charleston to visit the Charleston City Hall. Originally built as the Charleston branch of the Bank of the United States, it now houses the mayor's office and an absolutely stunning council chamber containing several original commissions of famous southerners like George Washington, Andrew Jackson, and John C. Calhoun. (Flash photography was prohibited, but I'm sure no pictures could do it justice.)
Looking for one more thing to see before turning in for the night, we drove an hour to Beaufort, SC. We got there just as the sun was setting, and barely had enough time to photograph the Hunting Island Lighthouse before they closed the park gates.
Given how little light there was, I think this picture came out really well.
One more day to document. More to come.
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Sunday 24 May 2015
Vacation Days 1 & 2: Charleston, South Carolina
The first day of my vacation was mostly a travel day. We got a late start and only had time for a brief orientation drive through Charleston before they closed the bridges. ("Bridges closed for maintenance," according to the local news. Nearly the whole town shuts down at 5PM, so I guess they figured anyone not out by sundown was getting what was coming to them.)
On the recommendation of my old friend Jason, we took dinner at Ye Olde Fashioned Cafe & Ice Cream. Their chili dog was worth the drive into South Carolina. Good call, Jason.
Tuesday morning, my traveling companion, Brian, and I set out to see some old stuff in historic downtown Charleston. And we found it!
For all the old buildings in town, the thing that stood out most was the presence of a telephone booth. They literally don't make these like they used to.
Of course, the town is chock full of history. We started in the Charleston Museum ("oldest museum in the United States") and worked our way south down Charleston's "museum mile." We didn't spend much money on admission on the historic houses because I spent all our time in church graveyards.
Desire Peronneau does not have the best tombstone at Circular Congregational Church, just the best tombstone in a picture I took. (The best overall tombstone belongs to "The mortal part of" Mary Smith, "Who after happily exemplifying the Conjugal and Maternal virtues for upwards of 37 Years Was fuddenly arrefted by the hand of Death to the no fmall grief of her numerous Relations and Friends" in 1795.)
Charles Town became Charleston in 1783. That didn't do much to help Mrs. Jackson, whose final resting place remains a mystery.
Quick history: Pinckney's opposition in those presidential elections were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Obviously, Pinckney lost both times. Badly. John Rutledge remains the only man ejected forcibly from the Supreme Court. John's brother, Ed, youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence, is buried in the only graveyard in town I didn't find the entrance to. I had to leave myself at least one reason to go back.
After the town closed on day 2, we trekked over to Sullivan's island to take a look at Fort Moultrie, the location of the battle that gave South Carolina its nickname and flag. But as it was after 5PM, the place was locked up tighter than a... well, a fort. Day three would give us a closer look at Charleston's military history when we took the boat to Fort Sumter.
More to come.
Wednesday 21 May 2014
Taken on Mother's Day while driving through the cemetery with my mother:
What? Doesn't everyone go for rides in the cemetery with their mother?
Monday 4 November 2013
"Why haven't you posted the pics of the cemeteries yet," Mother asked me yesterday.
"Because I didn't think anyone else would care about that," I replied. "That's the sort of thing only I find interesting."
"You're the only one who finds anything interesting about your blog," she said.
She's right. So here are some pics I took of the Georgia and Chattanooga National Cemeteries last month.
The Georgia National Cemetery is on top of a mountain in Canton. It opened in 2006 and has plenty of room, though judging by the number of tombstones it has picked up in just the last 7 years, it sadly might be full before I'm dead. It is beautiful and quiet and would be a great space for a picnic if the Veterans Administration allowed that sort of thing.
While I agree that cemeteries are not the place for littering (that's what the side of the highway is for), I think banning all "boisterous actions" takes it a bit far. I understand their reasoning, but I disagree. Maybe I'm an old-fashioned Victorian, but I think cemeteries should celebrate life, not death. I politely suggest that the VA should spend more time trying to heal the living and less time trying to police the dead.
If the Georgia National Cemetery seems like a beautiful place, it's got nothing on the Chattanooga National Cemetery just a few hours up the road. It's 139 years older, and has its monuments encircling a picturesque hill that overlooks the surrounding region. Among many other, it is the final resting place of the 8 Union soldiers executed as spies for their participation in the Great Locomotive Chase of 1862. As final resting places go, this one is hard to beat.