Cemetery: Oakdale Memorial Gardens (established in 1856 as Oakdale Cemetery)
Location: 2501 Eastern Avenue, Davenport, Iowa
Active or inactive: Active
Notable graves: Civil War generals; jazz cornetist Leon Bismark "Bix" Beiderbecke, education pioneer Phebe Sudlow; Count Nicholas Fejevary (Hungary); author Alice French (aka Octave Thanet); Dairy Queen founder John Fremont McCullough; members of the founding family of chiropractic and Palmer College of Chiropractic (Mabel Heath Palmer and David D. Palmer); founder of Grinnell College Julius Alexander Reed
Remarkable markers: Dillon monument (large obelisk); Soldiers Orphans Lot; more than a dozen private mausoleums; various mourning women; white bronze markers
What else you can do in town ...
What else to see: The Quad Cities consists of Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa and Moline and Rock Island in Illinois. In Davenport, you can visit the Putnam Museum, Figge Art Museum and the River Music Experience. In Bettendorf, the Family Museum is a great time if you bring young children. In Moline, stop by the John Deere Pavilion (John Deere lived here and is buried here in Moline's Riverside Cemetery). In Rock Island, you try your luck at Jumer's Casino and Hotel. There are also riverboat casinos on the Iowa side. Just outside the Quad Cities, Niabi Zoo is located in Coal Valley, Ill.
Where to eat: Ross' Restaurant has been a local favorite for more than 50 years. It's located in Bettendorf at the base of the I-74 bridge. It's a diner with great food, and it's known for it's iconic Magic Mountain. Some famous patrons have included Bill Murray, Louie Bellson and Pearl Bailey, Bette Midler, Rachel Maddow (the owner and manager even appeared on "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC), and President Barak Obama.
For dessert, go to Lagamarcino's for the best handmade chocolates and old-fashioned soda fountain. The original store is in downtown Moline, and the second shop is in the East Village of Davenport. You also don't want to miss Whitey's Ice Cream. There are a number of stores throughout the Quad Cities. Whitey's is a QC original and has the best thick shakes and malts (known as "the best in the Midwest"). They have tons of gourmet and traditional scooped ice cream flavors, including Chocolate Peanut Butter Revel, Graham Central Station, Mississippi Mud Revel, Salted Caramel, Cup O' Joe Espresso, Strawberry Cheesecake and Coconut Joy.
There are a number of micro-breweries in the area, including Front Street, Blue Cat Brew Pub, Bent River, Great River and more.
I spent most of today prepping for and teaching a class on funerals and views on death. I didn't get home until 7 p.m., and that's when I heard about the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. I've been a fan of his for years. The first movie my husband and I saw together was "Magnolia."
He's not always been the most easy actor to watch--but that's part of what made him great. Even when his characters were dispicable, you knew you were watching a master of the craft.
But I'm not writing this post to discuss his talent. Or to moon over yet another lost celebrity. People die every day who get no fanfare. So why do we get so emotional about people we've never met? Because it's a reminder that we can and will die. Even the larger-than-life movie stars who seeming shine so much brighter than the rest of us.
A celebrity death is also a communal loss. We connect with the roles they play, and many of them become part of our lives by being present. Magazines at the checkout counter, on the movie screen and our TVs, throughout the Internet, singing our favorite music, writing our favorite books. Fans of someone who have never met have something in common.
Funerals are a public display of grief. The audience is limited by geography or by those who know the deceased personally or someone who wAs close to that person. A funeral allows for closure and connection with fellow mourners.
The Internet--especially Twitter--allows us a different way to connect with a world full of other people feeling the same loss. People expressing feelings of loss for famous individuals are not saying only the famous are worthy of their sympathy. They are sharing a moment, reaching out and connecting with people. They are not belittling the lives of everyday people; they're seeking meaning in something scary and final.
With all of this being said, I'd like to share my thoughts about death by drug addiction. I read an article tonight where a doctor said, "We don't tell someone with asthma to stop having asthma." Someone with a drug addiction had an illness. And the complexity of addiction is mental and physical.
Celebrities are far from the only people to suffer from drug addiction. But even though I don't know someone personally with this affliction, the loss of an untouchable gives me a glimpse into the pain that accompanies it.
If you find yourself questioning the sincerity of people mourning the famous, remember that this is a way of connecting with others and paying respect. It is an acknowledgement that someone lived and died. And that that someone's life meant something.
Due to the crazy weather, crazy schedules and the busy times of the upcoming holidays, the Mystery Cemetery Tours will begin in Spring 2014.
The Mystery Tours will be scheduled ahead of time, but participants won't know which cemetery we'll be visiting until the day of or at least not long before the tour date or time.
Suggestions for the Mystery Tours are currently being accepted. You may email your ideas to email@example.com.
How long have you been interested in cemeteries and why?
The answer lies--as it often does--in the music. As a young teen, I was influenced by my older brother who listened a lot to the John Peel Radio Show. And in the early to mid-eigthies, that meant it was full of Post-Punk, Gothic and New Wave. And that, naturally, leads to cemeteries. When I first saw the cover of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart," I wanted to see that angel for myself.
In the early 90s, my girlfriend (she's now my wife) introduced me to photography, and on a trip around south Europe, we visited a cemetery in Madrid. I guess that's where I caught the bug ....
What are your favorite cemeteries? (we all have more than one!)
The Camposanto Staglieno in Genoa, Italy springs immediatly in mind. Nothing comes even close. On second place comes the Cimitero Monumentale Milano. The best in Germany was--so far--the Melaten-Friedhof in Cologne.
This interview gave me the opportunity to dive again into my huge collection of cemeteries, and again I cannot help to recognize that cemeteries tend to be far more interesting and beautiful if they are Catholic. At least if you're after sculptures, which I am. I've visited 46 cemeteries since 2009 (the year I really took off) and made until today 6,843 pictures that are worthy to be kept (at least i think they are worthy). And of these 46 Cemeteries I've visited five in Italy. And made about 1,900 pictures there. That's how good they were.
What are your favorite monuments?
That is a tough one. I would distinguish between the monuments themselves and the pictures I've made. And since the list of my favorites changes all the time, I'll give you my all-time favourites that are not all-time at all but rather like a snapshot of favorites I have this time of the week .... (see pics below).
The first one is a sculpture of a naked beauty at the Staglieno Cemetery. It's an amazing piece of art.
The next one is, scuplture-wise, not very notable, but I love the photo. That's one I'm really proud of.
The third was taken in Verona, Italy. It's just unbelievably beautiful. That man is desperately clinging to his wife who is ascending to heaven.
My last selection is from Bielefeld, Germany, about half an hour from my home. I love her expression! And I'm quite proud of that photo ....
I can't tell you the name of the monuments because I mostly don't bother about facts like that. I try to make good pictures of beautiful and/or interesting monuments, regardless the owner. I'm not sure if this is unusual for a Tapophile, but then i've never met another in the wild to discuss this matter.
What is the farthest you've traveled to visit a cemetery?
I would say the Prazeres Cemetery, Lisboa, Portugal. It's about 1,400 miles from home. But it's a bit like cheating, because the main purpose of that trip was a family holiday. On second place would be Budapest, Hungary. That is about 600 miles from home.
What has been the most surprising thing you've seen in a cemetery?
The sign at the entry of the Cimitero Monumentale Torino that clearly depicts that taking pictures is strictly forbidden. That was not only surprising. It was shocking!!
What do you tell people if they think your cemetery infatuation is weird?
What's wrong with being weird? Everybody is weird. Some more, some less. I myself take pride to be bonkers.
What cemeteries are on your bucket list?
Every single cemetery in any city in Italy that has more than 30.000 residents is worth a visit. So the list is rather long. Then there's London: The famous cemeteries in London are called the "Magnificent Seven". I've seen three of them so four remain. On top on that list is a revisit to Paris. The last time i was there we only had an analog camera and not enough film.
Visit Martin's website.
Maybe you're not a trained cemetery preservationist, but you want to help your local cemetery anyway. Here are three things anyone can do to help out.
1. Keep it clean. Whether you make a morning or afternoon of it, or just take a plastic bag with you the next time you head out to take photos at your favorite cemetery, there's always trash to pick up among the headstones and trees. Speaking of trees, you can also pick up sticks and move small branches out of pathways and off gravestones.
2. Volunteer at the office. If a cemetery has an office, there is always plenty of work to do. Potential projects may include photo databases, archival projects and data inputting. You can help out with cemetery events as a tour guide, staff assistant, etc. If gardening is your thing, you can offer to assist with gardening projects.
3. Research. You can research the history of the cemetery or the people interred there. Visit your local library or historical society to gather information. Search the Internet. Compile your findings electronically and share them with the cemetery.
Do you volunteer at a cemetery? What type of work have you done to help out?
Check out more funny signs at funkysigns.tumblr.com.
The Schlafly Brewery has branded one of their beers for the upcoming 2nd Annual Beer Baron's Tour at Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. I personally seldom drink beer (or much of anything really), but I would love to have a bottle of their R.I.P. Rye India Pale Ale, complete with winged soul art on the label. How cool is that?
If you are in the St. Louis area, the tour will take place on Saturday, Oct. 19, from 1-4 p.m. Tickets are $40, and the proceeds will benefit the Friends of Bellefontaine Cemetery.
I wish I could be there, but my daughter's Daisy Troop is going to be in our local Halloween parade that weekend. Even a cool cemetery event won't drag me away from that. :)
I am reading this book right now, and it's lighting a fire under my butt. During my day job, I manage social media for a college. So I'm immersed in social networks every day. Then when I get home, I try to do the same for TheCemeteryClub.com, my speaking career and author life. Try is the word here.
I've been cutting myself a break lately, though. It's not easy to be a mom, a wife (and the wife of an artist who has a hectic schedule, too), a full-time salaried gal, a Daisy troop leader, a speaker and a writer. Anybody who has a lot going on knows exactly how that goes. To create balance, things have got to give. And it certainly can't be your almost-7-year-old daughter! Though sometimes it feels that way--to me as well as to her.
It's hard. There is no doubt about it. I'd love to be independently wealthy and be able to focus on TheCemeteryClub and my writing full time. Who wouldn't want to be able to grab their dream and do it! But there's reality, and you do what you can when you can.
But Amy Jo Martin's book "Renegades Write the Rules" is inspiring me and reminding me that I've been neglecting part of what I do. And while I may not be able to do EVERYTHING all at once that I want to do, I can jump back in and do what I can. To get myself back in the swing of things, I'm tweeting more and resurrecting the "Featured Facebook Photos" on my site. A big part of the changes I'm making is thought processes. When I've been doing research on social media and networking, I've lately been putting the blinders on and only seeing how things can improve my day-job social media. I let TheCemeteryClub drop off! My reason is that I've been rejuvenated at work. It's an exciting time. So I'm not complaining. There's nothing like enjoying and taking pride in what you do.
On top of that, fall is a rejuvenating time for me. The weather gets cooler and welcoming for me. The leaves start changing, and there's no better time to take photos in the cemetery than in the fall. I LOVE fall! I loved fall as a kid. The start of school and the anticipation of new beginnings. And pumpkins and dark nights and bonfires. I can get out my sweaters and jackets. Ahhhh, it's great.
That's enough of waxing poetic about fall. I can write odes to it later.
All I ask is that you (my Facebook friends, Twitter followers, website fans and guests at my speaking engagements) stay tuned to see how I move forward from here. Even I don't know what all I'll be doing! But I'm excited about it.
Thanks again to everyone who attended my presentation at Oakdale's Victorian Day yesterday #omgvictorianday2013. Thank you especially to Patty and Roger who came all the way from Rockford. It was great to see you again after meeting you in Fulton a while back! I enjoyed speaking at the Windmill Center (real name of it?); it’s a really nice place. It was also great to hear about your involvement with historical groups. Keep up the great work!
It was also great to meet Taylor and her mom. I took a peek at your profile, Taylor, and the photos of you in the cemetery are awesome! What cemetery were you in? Thanks for buying an “I
And thank you all for understanding when I totally switched gears.
When you realize in the middle of things that you're just going in the wrong (boring) direction, you have to just stop, quickly take stock in the situation, and make it right. I had reviewed my presentation on Oakdale and the Civil War from last year and made some tweaks. It had made sense at the time because all the information was correct. But here's the deal. It was boring. Very boring. I don't recall it being boring last year, and I honestly don't know why. If you've heard me speak before, boring facts and figures are not my MO. My thing is to show people my passion for cemeteries and why they are so cool. And, boy, did I start flopping.
So instead of continuing down that path, I decided not to torture the nice people in attendance (and they were really great). I took a whole new route and showed them photos from my Bonaventure Cemetery visit (in Savannah, Ga.) and talked to them about the wonders of that park. I think I redeemed myself--I hope I redeemed myself. :) At least they got to see some wonderful sculptures, especially those by artist John Walz.
After a marathon of old Cartoon Network shows thanks to Netflix, I've been watching "Death and the Civil War," the PBS documentary I've been wanting to see since it was first broadcast in September 2012 (you can find it on Netflix now). Fascinating and very sad. They read from lots of letters sent by dying soldiers and those about to go to battle who believed they would not be coming back. While a number of images and B-role cover shots are repeated (and lingered upon a little long), it's a powerful piece that is definitely worth watching. It was directed by Ric Burns, so you pretty much know what to expect from his style.
So many documentaries and books on the Civil War focus on the battles and strategies or the politics and political figures of the time. This film highlights the effects of the war regarding the dead, and it is eye-opening as well as very interesting. I've done a lot of reading on the Civil War and Lincoln and, of course, cemeteries, but I learned quite a few things from this documentary. I think we've all seen the photos of dead soldiers on the fields, which are heart-breaking. But I don't recall seeing the images of skeletons and skulls on the battle fields. Those solders were left on the fields, unburied, so long that all that was left were bones and the tatters of their uniforms. That was shocking, though it is understandable. When there was no plan for caring for the dead--and thousands of soldiers died during any given battle--what would you do? You couldn't put the war on hold to properly care for the dead. How deeply and horribly sad.
I think the reason so many of us are compelled to keep reading and researching the Civil War is because there are so many human layers to it. The reasons the war was fought ... the fact that we fought against ourselves ... that brothers fought brothers ... that women assumed the identities of men in order to fight ... that black men weren't allowed to fight for the longest time in a war that was truly about them and the rights they should have had all along ... the extreme losses this country and our people suffered ... the most brilliant president our country has known ... how women, who would have even fewer rights that free black men, stepped up during the war and after it ... how the war changed views on death ... how it changed views on life.
As a review, I give "Death and the Civil War" 4 out of 5 stars. I definitely recommend it.
Nothing makes you feel more awesome and professional that looking back at a book you've written (and published) and noticing a big ol' glaring error staring at you off the page. Gargh!!!!
Contrary to popular belief (uh huh), I'm not perfect (noooo!). Okay, maybe it's popular belief. Regardless (do I get points for knowing "irregardless" is not a word?), I feel like a big moron.
As I was prepping for my walking tour of Chippiannock Cemetery yesterday, I noticed a mistake in my book "Images of America: Chippiannock Cemetery." On a page where I'm talking about Rock Island pioneer John W. Spencer and an interesting anecdote about him, I discovered a goofy mistake. How nobody caught this in the proofing stage is beyond me, and now I have to live with the dunce hat.
Back in 1827, John Spencer was paid $5 to walk the 100 miles from Rock Island to Galena, Illinois, in the winter over the frozen Mississippi River, as Galena was the nearest post office. When he returned to Rock Island, he brought with them the news of who was the new President of the United States ... Abraham Lincoln. Yes, Lincoln. Gargh!!!!!
Granted, it would have taken John Spencer a REALLY LONG time to get to Galena and back on foot, but I doubt it took 40 years. What a maroon! The presidential announcement was of Andrew Jackson, a.k.a. "Old Hickory."
So, please, when you get to page 29 in my book, please understand that I was temporarily insane when I wrote that or that my editor was. It's just that I LOVE Abraham Lincoln so much that I want him to be President at all times, past and future. He's just that awesome.
I, on the other hand, am not. Gargh. Please forgive my crazy error and enjoy the rest of the book.
Minda (more like Min-DUH!)
I'm the founder and editor of TheCemeteryClub.com and Epitaphs Magazine. I love cemeteries and sharing the art and history of them with anyone who will listen!