30 January 2010

Alfred D. Taliaferro M.D. - Mt. Tamalpais Cemetery

A native of Virginia Alfred D. Taliaferro M.D. has the distinction of being the first M.D. in the Marin County area. He was widely respected and liked by many. After all who wouldn't want a doctor to like them? He was one of the first Europeans to settle in what is known today as Fairfax, CA. Fairfax was originally a land grant of around 6600 acres given by the Mexican government to Domingo Sais on August 10, 1839 in return for his military service to the Mexican government. Domingo then gave Taliaferro a large park like area of the land. Probably to try and sweeten up the doctor in case he needed his services. Upon visiting Taliaferro with his wife Charles Fairfax (also from Virginia) fell in love with the land and Taliaferro had the land transferred to him and his wife Ada who made it their home. Taliaferro also served in the California State Assembly and later went on to become a State Senator.

I happened to notice this bust on the way out of the cemetery and stopped to take a closer look. I found it a little creepy as I do most busts. This one had green moss growing on it's eye which gave it an even creepier look. I often wonder how much likeness an artist captures when they do these carvings. Then I think of Mt. Rushmore or something and realize that I'm most likely looking at what they actual person looked like before death. I think that's what creeps me out the most....

28 January 2010

That Thing Thursday

I got a chance to visit Mt. Tamalpais Cemetery in San Rafael, CA yesterday and I'm not sure who was more scared. We had a short standoff before this little doe made up her mind that I wasn't going to hurt her or try to eat her. She went on about her grazing in the grass and I went about my business of taking pictures. This cemetery was so full of wildlife and so peaceful. I think I may have found a new cemetery to add to my list of favorites. I'll definitely be visiting again.

East Sheen, the hand that rocks the cradle.

Large hand cradling a baby. This is a memorial is in the baby section at East Sheen cemetery in London. The first time I saw it I couldn’t photograph it because I thought it was too sad. On my second visit I felt it was ok to do so because the memorial it is both very moving and beautiful.

26 January 2010

A fungus among us.



















Lately I've been obsessed with these mushrooms you see growing in the middle of the grass at some cemeteries. Many people probably have them growing on their lawns or on trees around their house as well. Note: do not put these in your spaghetti. This one had an interesting shape so I decided to take a picture. Found at Galt-Arno Cemetery in Galt, CA.

Highgate Cemetery, London.

‘Gordon Bell middle name Ernest though he placed no importance on it’. This one always makes me smile; a take on Shakespeare’s The importance of being earnest.

25 January 2010

I wonder what will be on my tombstone

Some of the poems and sayings on stones don't get to me often. This one made me cry a little bit. I have seen it before but it is a really touching poem.

Gone - Manor Park Cemetery, UK.


Gone. All the monuments have been removed and ground up into a huge marble mountain as the space is being reclaimed. Manor Park cemetery Jan 2010.


23 January 2010

Small Stuff

I've been trying to take the time while I'm in a cemetery to stop and notice the small things. It seems that many times the things that catch my eye are on a larger scale so I immediately gravitate toward those. Recently I've realized that there are many things to see while I'm on my way there. Makes me wonder how many of these little things people have left behind and have gone unnoticed. This pic could have used some lighting enhancement but I've had a long wee and was too lazy to do it. Look for more small stuff since I've recently become aware of what I've been walking by. This was an interesting shot. Almost as if the little statue was posing for me even though the whole side was dirty from the nearby mud puddle...

Fred, Tower Hamlets Cemetery, London.


Fred, Tower Hamlets Cemetery, London. I adore this simple horse design. I often wonder if Fred kept horses or maybe he like to bet on them.

21 January 2010

Brompton Cemetery, London.

This large vault from Brompton Cemetery London depicts two angel ‘gatekeepers’.

20 January 2010

The Bed, Essex, UK





A bed monument from a small churchyard in Essex UK. This bed also depicts many symbols like a book, skulls, bones and an Ouroboros (a snake biting its own tail and forming a circle symbolising eternity.)

Wordless Wednesday

19 January 2010

Tombstone Tales: Resurrection Mary

Resurrection Cemetery in Justice, Illinois - made famous by the ghost story of Resurrection Mary. (Photo Wikimedia Commons.)
Resurrection Cemetery in Justice, Illinois,
made famous by the ghost story of Resurrection Mary. 
(Photo Wikimedia Commons.)



They say I am no more
than a ghost, just passing by -
but did you see me
grasping the iron bars
of the Resurrection Cemetery?


Did you see me pulling them apart
and blackening them with the scorch marks
of my infuriated fingerprints,
sealed in the green bronze?




The Scorched Gatebars of Resurrection Cemetery. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons.)
The Scorched Gatebars of Resurrection Cemetery. 
(Photo via Wikimedia Commons.) 




17 January 2010

St. Catherine of Siena Cemetery Martinez, CA

I've been sitting on this post for well over a week now. You may remember some time ago there was a cemetery nearby that I was having trouble getting in to. After several attempts lasting about 6 months I was finally able to get in. Please read the background story. Now that you've done that here we are 6 months later. I wrote the deacon again just after visiting and I was all ready to come here today and write a scathing article after giving him a week to respond to my email. At first I wasn't going to send an email at all but decided it was best to find out the details before launching into a bunch of accusations. It seemed to me that the cleanup and/or restoration project I spoke about 6 months ago had stalled. Since this cemetery is on a hill I decided I'd start at the top and work my way down. It was then that I noticed the huge piles of rocks and leaves that were supposed to be cleaned up were sitting at the back of the cemetery hidden from the view of the nearby street. As you can see in the second picture here one of the piles appears to be covering someone's grave. And I couldn't tell due to the size of the pile if there were more under there? I thought to myself how careless the people cleaning the cemetery must have been to allow this to happen. The landfill is not too far from here. Couldn't they have just taken it there? Well of course that would probably cost money. Money that maybe the church didn't have at the time. I am still trying to understand the situation without being too upset about it. There is so much work to be done here it seems overwhelming. My emails have now been forwarded to the cemetery maintenance committee. This is where my correspondence stalled last time. My plan is to not let this issue go. People are still being buried here. When I visited there was a fresh grave that still had the funeral flowers on it. Another problem plaguing the cemetery is rampant vandalism. This I cannot point blame at the church, although there are several holes in the fence that could be repaired in the back. It's disheartening that people would come to a cemetery and do this level of destruction. I tried to lift a couple of the stones to see how heavy they were and there's no doubt that this vandalism has been done by a group of people. Most likely young adults or a group of teens that have nothing better to do than destroy history. The cemetery dates back to around 1860 and for somebody to destroy history on this level or at all is beyond description. I have added more pictures of the destruction to my photobucket account. I would also like to end this post with the correspondence between Deacon Albert Dizon and myself. I'm also asking anyone concerned to please email the Deacon (dcnadizon@yahoo.com) and express your concerns if possible. I think if we don't let this issue drop we will get something done here...

Deacon Dizon,

My name is Joe Dallmann and I wrote to you some 6 months ago regarding the state of the cemetery. Yesterday after many months of trying to obtain keys from the police department I was able to finally visit the cemetery itself. I'm not sure if you've personally had a chance to visit it. I was very sad when I visited. There has been a ton of vandalism there and it seems the dead branches and trees I saw them cleaning up on my last visit when I wrote my story on it have been piled at the back of the cemetery. I don't wish to take an accusatory tone as I did in previous emails without knowing the full details of what's going on there? Is there something preventing people from hauling this debris off? I will attach a couple pictures to show what I'm talking about. It seems the piles in the back actually cover some of the graves. No doubt vandalism has plagued this beautiful place. It troubles me to think that people are capable of such destruction in a cemetery. Last time we spoke I volunteered my assistance in helping out here and I can probably get a few others to assist as well. I would again like to extend that invitation and hope that someone will contact me regarding assistance. My company owns a truck and trailer and although it's small we can assist in clearing some of the wood piles and possibly the concrete debris in the back of the cemetery. Originally I intended to write a scathing article regarding the state. And yes I understand that most of these plots are purchased with the intent that the families will take care of cleaning. But what do we do when some of the plots are more than a hundred years old? I can't lift the stones by myself nor do I want to risk damaging them further. I am asking for your help in correcting this problem. Please look at the pictures in case you don't already know what's going on there. Here is the article I wrote 6 months ago... http://cemeteryexplorers..blogspot.com/2009/07/restoration-project-at-st-catherine-of.html

His response:

Hello Mr. Dallmann,
I am so sorry that I did not respond to your email right away. The truth is, I did not open this email until today. I have forwarded your email and pictures to our maintenance committee and our cemetery maintenance coordinator Mr. Pete Carpenter. I am sure he will contact you soon to take you up on your offer.
Thank you for brining this up to our attention and being so understanding with the situation.
God bless you.

Deacon Albert Dizon
St. Catherine of Siena Parish
1125 Ferry St.
Martinez, CA 94553

http://stcatherineofsienamartinez.org/

16 January 2010

City of London Cemetery.



This is one of my favourite monuments from the City of London cemetery. A full size angel with a large dove on her shoulder. The City of London seems to have a lot of memorials which feature doves, they are so beautiful. Doves of course represent the Holy Spirit or peace.

15 January 2010

Deez the Professional Mourner

(Click the picture to enlarge)
I came across this memorial while walking through Galt-Arno Cemetery in Galt, CA. Where is Galt? It's just south of Sacramento and the only reason I've heard of it was because we have this crazy guy at work that's actually from there. Anyway I'm not usually affected when I go to cemeteries but the inscription on this stone was written by a husband to his wife of just 4 years. I could tell it was written straight from the heart by a husband that loved his wife more than anything in this world. I had to take some time and step away after reading it and couldn't even look in it's direction for a little while. It was all I could do to come back and take a picture of the front of it. As I stepped back to take a picture of the front it had a picture of the husband and wife on the front of it. There was no date of death for the husband and I thought to myself that if his love went that deep how he must still be grieving. I had to keep wiping my eyes because the flood of emotion was terrible. There were other people in the cemetery and I kept thinking they must think I know these people. The must have thought it was strange that after I was done that I got up and visited several more stones, dusted leaves off the one you couldn't see and stood fallen flowers upright. But I still couldn't shake the thought of the husband as he wrote this letter to his wife after death. It could use some cleaning and one day I hope to make the hour plus drive back to do just that...

Solider, Elmers End Cemetery


I love this solider from Elmers End Cemetery near London, alas he has lost part of his nose to the elements.

13 January 2010

Woman & dog. Pere Lachaise, Paris

I love this monument of a beautiful 1930s style woman depicted with her dog. The dog often has lipstick on it's face as it gets kissed a lot!

12 January 2010

Elsie Singmaster Lewars (1879-1958)


You don't hear much about the Pennsylvania Dutch anymore. It's a shame. It's a way of life and a language that seems to be falling to the wayside. However, with my first trip to Solomon's in Macungie, PA, I got to see a real old tombstone that I just seem fascinated with. I saw Lydia Singmaster's grave and had flowers on it.

Of course, this made me wonder. Was it family or was it a famous person? So I did some google searching and I found out that one of her descendants was Elsie Singmaster Lewars. She is a Pennsylvania Dutch author.

Elsie was born in 1879 in Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania. She was the daughter of Rev. John Alden Singmaster and Caroline Hoopes Singmaster. She live in Macungie, PA (known as Millertown at the time) from 1882-1885 while her father was pastor of the Saint Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church. When she went to publich school in Macungie, her teacher spoke Pennsylvania German.

In 1887 her father left Macungie to minister in Brooklyn, NY and then in Allentown, PA. Of course, the family followed but Elsie and her brothers would return to Macungie, PA during the summer.

In 1900, the family moved to Gettysburg, PA, when Dr Singmaster became a professor at the Lutheran Theological Seminary. She returned to Macungie for many visits but Elsie's home was on the campus of the seminary. However, she did return to Macungie in 1959 for her burial in Fairview Cemetery on Route 100. She is buried with her husband, her infant son, and her mother and father.

Tombstone Tuesday

I realize that everyone is waiting for my post on the Catholic cemetery I finally had a chance to visit but I'm holding off pending further information. So here I bring you the weird dog we saw at Stockton Rural Cemetery the other day. It appeared to be a stray since we could not verify that anyone else was actually in the cemetery at the time. It just made us wonder why the dog chose that particular grave since the people buried there died a long time before the dog was even born. We left the window rolled up and the doors locked. I'm not sure at all why I locked the door because to my knowledge dogs don't know how to open a car door. I guess I watched Cujo too much as a kid.

11 January 2010

a small piece of Sacramento Historic City Cemetery.




I took a trip with Kathy and Patti, to the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery, where we spent the whole day driving through (yes, driving, the cemetery covers approximately 44 acres!), taking pictures till our batteries were exhausted and our cards were stuffed, all the while "oohing" and "aahing" over every single thing in there. The cemetery is beautiful beyond words. But before my battery took it's last breath, I found a plot with a statue in it that I immediately fell in love with, and snapped a couple shots. It was only after catching a piece of a show on PBS that I learned the history of the people resting there, and I fell in love all over again. After some research on the internet, I found the clip of that show on YouTube, and figured that they would sum it up better than I could, and besides, the Cemetery wants to add it's own plug too right? The whole cemetery is practically run on volunteer manpower! So here it is:



This Cemetery is one of those places everyone should visit. The art, architecture, history, combined with so many cultural influences, makes this a place anyone could appreciate. There are sections devoted to Military, Masons, Firemen, Politicians......Among their 25,000 plus residents, they have Civil War Veterans, the burials of hundreds of deaths due to the 1850 Cholera Epidemic, Donner Party Survivors and probably their most famous resident, John Sutter.

Lagarde Gueret Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.










At the entrance of this family vault you are greeted by a hooded female figure/gatekeeper. Far from being sinister I always like to hold hands with her when I visit. The decoration on the vault also depicts owls representing watchfulness and wisdom.

10 January 2010

Victorian Mourning Traditions & Fashions


Story by: Victoriana Lady Lisa Lewis

Memento Mori means Remember you will die, Remember you are mortal.
Funerals at the turn of the century were still held at home, in the front parlor, and were by invitation only. If you were invited you attended, it was simply rude and ill mannered to refuse a funeral invitation. Embalming was not practiced before the Civil War so funerals were quick affairs. Once President Abraham Lincoln was embalmed and lying in state did people then accept the practice. When funerals became a business early in the 20th century they were appropriately called Funeral Parlors. Urban growth and crowding made way for the growth of the funeral industry.
Queen Victoria started the rituals of mourning when her beloved husband of 21 years Prince Albert died. She mourned him for over 40 years until her death. The year Albert died was 1861 and as was custom, black drapes hung over all of the mirrors in the home of the deceased. The Victorians were extremely superstitious, especially where death was concerned. They believed that if you looked into a mirror while a body lay dead in the same home you could be the next one to die.
The queen started wearing a widow cap with a veil covering her face. The tradition was adopted because the Victorians believed that a grieving widow should not allow the outside world to see her emotions of grief. These feelings were to be kept private, out of honor and respect for the deceased love one.
There were two strict years of mourning for Victorian women. For first year mourning it was mandatory that she wear all black. Most wore black crape, a silk material that is crimped in appearance, much like crepe paper, as we know it today. Bombazine, a wool blend, or broadcloth was also permissible. No jewelry or trim on clothing was allowed and a widow cap with veil was required. Handkerchiefs were white broadcloth trimmed with a black border and often a black monogram in the center.  If she could afford them she would purchase her mourning clothing and undergarments. If she could not afford them she would dye her items black. Once her two years of mourning was up then she would have to bleach everything white again.
The pungent dye odor permeating the towns during the Civil War gave a distinct Smell of Death as so many women were in mourning. The horrific odor was the reason all of the clothes dying was done outside the home at that time. The dying process itself was tedious. An original account from 1887 describes the process. Garments to be dyed, black in this case, must first be clean, to prevent spotting. Steep items in soap lye overnight and rinsed out well. For silks, work items in bichromate of potash, just below boiling heat. Next dip garments in Logwood, wash in suds, then rinse and hang to line dry. For woolen goods, take six ounces of blue Vitriol, boil for a few minutes then dip the items for ¾ of an hour, airing them often. Next make a dye with 3 pounds of Longwood, and boil garments in this for a half hour. Start dipping items again for ¾ of an hour, air goods, then dip ¾ of an hour more. Finally wash all dyed garments in strong suds, rinse and line dry. This dye will not fade in the garments from sun exposure.
The black crape mourning pieces have an interesting story. Someone started a superstitious rumor, perhaps the crape manufacturers, that it was bad luck to have any crape in your home ay the end of the first year mourning. Everything crape was to be thrown away, lest someone else should die. How convenient for the crape industry, each time there was a death an entire years worth of crape had to be purchased again!
Second year mourning was not as strict. The veil no longer had to be worn over the face, and colors worn could be black with touches of mauve, gray or white. Jewelry was allowed, particularly a black coal like stone named Jet, a favorite of Queen Victoria. Photo brooches of the deceased and hair work jewelry were also very popular. In fact these pieces are quite an art form and very collectible today.

Gentlemen in mourning simply tied a black crape armband around their left arm to show that they were in mourning. Even in wealthy households the servants wore mourning. Babies and children alike wore mourning the duration depended on the relationship to the deceased.
Mourning jewelry was introduced in the popular magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1850. Hair work jewelry was one type. In this craft women used the hair of a loved one to fashion brooches, bracelets, earrings and watch chains. Hair work jewelry symbolized the need for wanting the deceased one close by. An even greater dimension of this craft began when women assembled intricate designs of hair in large shadow boxes and oval glass frames. The designs were mounted on silk in unique frames, made for the memorial pieces. Inscriptions to the loved one were also included in the framed piece. These are highly collectible and fetch a good price.In America, mourning jewelry was popular during the Civil War due to the death of so many soldiers. Often the soldier would leave a lock of hair in the event that he did not return. Materials such as gutta-percha, jet, black glass (French Jet), black enamel, hair work, pinchbeck, (a metal that looks and wears like gold but isn’t) and gold were commonly used in the creation of mourning jewelry.
The Relique by poet John Donne (1571-1631) an early reference to a hair bracelet:
"When my grave is broke up againe
Some second ghest to entertaine,
(For graves have learn'd that woman-head
To be to more than one a Bed)
And he that digs it, spies
A bracelet of bright haire about the bone,
Will he not let us alone,
And thinke that there a loving couple lies"


Some examples of mourning jewelry are Jet, a coal type black stone. Jet was a favorite of Queen Victoria for mourning jewelry and German Jet was especially coveted for its quality.French jet (shiny black glass) was of lesser quality than jet.Stewart Crystals, from the Elizabethan age, was the first mourning jewelry. These pieces are extremely valuable and quite lovely, found in brooches, pendants and rings.Vulcanite is a rubber like compound that was pressed and made into black mourning brooches.Red Bohemian Garnet mourning jewelry is exquisite in how the deep red stones sparkle. These pieces are especially beautiful and elegant looking in brooches and drop earrings.Gutta Percha comes from a tropical tree in South East Asia. The sap, a latex type of product, was used for mourning jewelry, especially in brooches.Georgia Sepia Miniatures on Ivory are exquisite examples of mourning jewelry from the Georgian to mid-Victorian period. Many popular designs included weeping willow trees, a dove, urn, hearts, a wreath, ivy, angels and Georgian ladies.Photo brooches of the deceased loved one were also popular. In 1839 there was the daguerreotype photo, in 1850’s to1880’s the ambro type and finally the tintype in 1850 to 1940. One unusual type of brooch was an eye miniature brooch. These were popular during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. These are highly collectible pieces with an eye painted in the brooch.Other items include mourning pins, used to hold ribbons and braided hair of the loved one. These were commonly worn on the children of the deceased.
In an 1849 mourning scrapbook we read this endearing poem:
This lock of hairI once did wearBut now I trust it to your care.Look oft at thisAnd think of meWhen I am far away from thee.

Here is a not-so-subtle poem from 1851:
When I am deadAnd in my graveAnd all my bones are rotten,Look at thisAnd think of me,Lest I should be forgotten.
Another highly collectible Victorian mourning tradition was the post mortem photo. These are regarded by most people today to be morbid, yet they were quite common cherished sentimental pieces to the Victorians. This was especially true if an infant or child died. Often the post mortem photo was all that the family had to remember the child, so it was a precious keepsake. These photos helped keep the memory of the lost loved one alive. It was a symbol of comfort to the Victorians. Believe it or not, in the coal mining regions of northeastern PA in the late 1800’s the coffin had to be checked before burial! It was necessary to make sure that the deceased was inside. Revelers would often remove the body in order to sleep off their inebriation in the comfort of the casket instead of on the floor! This is probably one of the strangest of the Victorian mourning traditions.

Thomas Sayers Highgate Cemetery London


Thomas Sayers was a pugilist (bare knuckle boxer.) During his career he was only defeated once. His fighting career lasted from 1849-1860, when a match billed as the "World Championship" ended in disarray. An unprecedented public collection funded his retirement, but he died five years later at the age of 39 of diabetes and tuberculosis. Such was his fame that his burial at Highgate cemetery was attended by ten thousand people. His friends again subscribed for the erection of a large tomb, bearing a statue of his beloved dog Lion who attended Thomas' funeral wearing a black ruff around his neck.

08 January 2010

Peoria Cemetery, where my addiction started.


I started doing genealogy years ago, and in doing so, found many wonderful websites that had whole cemeteries transcribed and photographed for people all around the world to see. It helped me immensely, and being able to view the resting spots of my ancestors was amazing. My Mom and I decided we should do the same thing for our area. The amount of history in Yuba County cemeteries is something to be recognized.

Peoria Cemetery, it was then decided, would be our first attempt at transcribing and photographing a whole cemetery. We picked a day, loaded up my car with cemetery supplies (broom, little shovel, flour, camera, notebook and pens) and took off. I started photographing, and Mom, with her ever quick writing skills, did the transcribing. When the batteries died, we went back to her house, opened Microsoft Excel, and started creating a transcription for use on the internet. We repeated this process until we had everyone accounted for. Then, we had the problem of putting them on the internet. A quick google search led me to Kathy, who was doing the same thing in Yuba County at other cemeteries. I decided to contact her and see if we could make this a group project, and using Kathy's favorite saying "why try to re-invent the wheel", we became fast friends, and started to transcribe and photograph as a group.

Kathy had already established a website on her own, Yubaroots.com, which she has dedicated to the history of Yuba County, transcribing every record she could get her hands on, down to voter registration books, biographies, marriage/birth/death records......you won't believe the amount of information she has on her site. And on her site, there is a section for cemeteries, with every cemetery in Yuba County documented and photographed, with the exception of two.

My Mom passed away in 2005, and her ashes were buried with her husband Joseph's in the same plot. Mom was the one who started this love of cemeteries that I have, so in turn, my first blog is dedicated to her.

Lone Tree Cemetery Hayward, CA

I had to go to Hayward, CA the other day for a meeting and hadn't taken lunch. I decided I could eat or see what the nearest cemetery was. Of course I'm going to the cemetery. Lone Tree was a medium sized cemetery that I would have never found without the help of my handy GPS on my cell phone. There were a couple stories here and one I'm still doing a little research on. The other is this firefighters' memorial you see here. I thought this was a great way to memorialize firefighters. Sometimes I'll see a fire bell or something to that effect but never had I seen fire hydrants randomly placed throughout the section. I'm sure someone is going to ask what that big set of hands is in the background of this picture. Did you think I missed that? Not hardly. It wasn't a grave marker that I could tell but somebody did scratch a fish like the one that is said to represent Jesus and J. Muir '94' on the bottom. I would think it is a reference to John Muir but haven't done the research to verify it. It could also be the artist that carved it now that I think about it. It seems that work gets in the way of a lot of my research. And since I don't get paid to do this I have to put that first sometimes. This carving was still incredible. It had lines in the fingers and everything. Just like real hands would. I stood there looking at it for a good 15 minutes. Either way it was a treat to be able to stand there and touch the hands and inspect them for a little while. I just wish my lunch break had been longer. I don't like feeling rushed through a cemetery...

Pere Lachaise, Paris.

A rather unusual design from Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris. I love the shape and the beautiful turquoise mosaic flower detail.

07 January 2010

Snow in a cemetery makes you colder


I was walking around in Egypt Cemetery, Egypt Pennsylvania trying to get some new pictures. That was a bit of a mistake with the snow. I did get some nice shots of the cemetery.

I didn't get anything that caught my eye. What did creepy me out a bit was when I got to the car to go to work, the church bells began to sing. I took a video of it. If you do play it, please be careful with the sound. It was very windy and it might take your ear drums out for a spin.

06 January 2010

Weeping bottles / Tear jars


Tear bottles were common in the first few centuries AD. Small tear shaped bottles were placed as a tribute at the base of a tomb. Sometimes professional mourners were hired to supplement the bereaved family’s tears and extra compensation was paid to those who cried the most and were loudest! Tear bottles reappeared in the 19th century and are strongly associated with Queen Victoria. Some women used tear jars in the customary way, crying into them after the death of a loved one whilst others used them to cry into after their loved one left for the Civil War. A tear bottle known also known as a tear vial, tear catcher or lachrymatory are very collectable items nowadays. This one is from St Pancras and Islington cemetery in London.

05 January 2010

Tombstone Tales: Highgate Gothic

Highgate gothic







Twelve o'clock and where once
the groom and his bride 
were murdered,
it's pitch black now and every
room is deserted.


Except the one where
a grand piano is playing
Variations on a French Cancan
- do you see the pianist?


Night after night
caught in a web of white light
he's playing the same
Very Slow & Spooky Tune
over and over again
- do you see him?


The keys are touched
by invisible fingers when
a ghostly band joins in on this
Orchestral Music Made by Spirits

and disappears
into the fog,

forever


until the groom and his bride
return to Highgate and the clock

strikes midnight again.







04 January 2010

Hells Angels Motorcycle Club Oakland, CA

"When we do right, nobody remembers. When we do wrong, nobody forgets." That is said to be the primary motto of the group known as "The Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club" (HAMC). As I was strolling through Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland California last week I was walking far away on the hill toward the back. I noticed what appeared to be a series of black grave markers that looked rather new. I decided I'd make my way back around that way on my way back to my car. Once I got closer and saw what I had been looking at I got as excited as a kid in a candy store as I usually do when I come across something special. There in the cemetery stood the graves of 9 members of the Oakland chapter of the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club. The Hell's Angels are known as a notorious biker gang and crime syndicate by some and by it's members as just a group of guys that have banded together for the love of motorcycles who are involved in fundraisers, group rides, parties and motorcycle rallies.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing for me was their nicknames. Here you see Doug "The Thug" Orr. To me this was an awesome nickname. I mean if you're going to have a tough name I think "The Thug" pretty much sums it up. And after looking at his picture I figured Doug was not the one I'd want to meet in a dark alley. I had to remind myself that Doug probably had a family who he was probably really nice to. He was probably nice to his friends as well. But I wouldn't want to get on his bad side that's for sure...





Another one of my favorites was one Mr. "Mouldy" Marvin Gilbert. Not that I would like to have the name Mouldy myself. I again found myself staring at his picture and wondering what life must have been like for Mr. Mouldy. I would like to believe that the Hell's Angels just got a bum rap for a few members being involved in illegal activities and the rest of the guys were guilty by association. Sort of the way a Pitbull biting somebody makes the news whereas a German Shepard does not.







Another interesting figure I found was Lee Moran. He didn't have a nickname listed but at the bottom of his marker was a small plaque that read "81" Lee Moran Record 1003lbs Squat July 8t, 1984. Yes people I said 1003lbs. This man lifted just over half a ton. Here is an excerpt I found regarding Lee's Record attempt.
Courtesy http://www.strengthtech.com
Lee wanted the 1003 on his third, a weight he's been priming for all year. One of the most spectacular event to ever occur in our sport began to unfold as Lee stood with this awesome load. The bar whipped terribly, and as Lee tried to steady himself for the signal, one collar popped off the bar, almost as if it were shot from a gun. Hundred pound plates flew off of that end, stressing the other collar, which popped loose as well, releasing plates in that direction and causing spotters and officials to run for cover. The bar, now overloaded to one side rocketed up off Moran's back and flew through the air, a deadly missile which splintered the stage as it landed. Miraculously no one seemed to be injured and Lee was more unaffected than anyone else there. I grabbed him and asked, "Are you okay?" "Ken, what the hell happened?" He was totally non-plussed, and mainly concerned that whatever had happened wasn't his fault and would he get another attempt at it. With another 3rd attempt granted as a matter of course, he asked "Can I do it?" "You can do it." "You're right coach, I can do it." Announcer Tony Carpino whipped the audience to a roar as the bar was again secured. Moran stood with the half a ton, and sunk it. I mean he hit the bottom with at least and inch to spare and shot it to the top. History was made as three white lights greeted the effort, setting off pandemonious celebration.

In all there are 9 total stones. On the back of a couple of them are the names of a few women but I wasn't sure if they were actually buried on the other side of the men or not. I attempted to get someone from the chapter to give me a story to no avail. Oh well maybe next time or maybe someone will read this one day and contact me with more information.

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