Do you know the stories or histories of interesting graves in your areas? Perhaps there are local legends you'd like to share.
There are plenty of books out there with the well-known stories of cemeteries out there. But what about the lesser-known stories? They're often the ones that are even more moving ... and likely more true!
Share your stories with me, and you may be part of an upcoming project. You will receive full credit for any submissions that are used.
Email your stories or questions to me at:
TheCemeteryClub.com is seeking ACEO (Art Cards Editions and Originals) or ATC (Artist Trading Cards) art by cemetery-inspired artists. ACEO or ATC art is 2.5 x 3.5 inches (trading card size). They're pocket-sized masterpieces!
If you would like to promote your art for pennies, donate an ATC print of your work (prints only; keep your originals) to TheCemeteryClub.com to be given away to a random winner (one per month or more often, depending on how many we get). Learn more about Artist Training Cards here.
Donated ATCs will be showcased on this website as well as on our Facebook group with information about each artist, including a link to the artist's website, Facebook page or contact information.
- The art must be original to the person submitting it.
- The art must be cemetery-related.
- Send only reproductions for the give-away. (Keep your originals)
- Email an electronic version for use on the site and Facebook group. You are encouraged to add a watermark to the electronic version.
- Include your contact information, website, Facebook page URL, etc. We want to be able to promote you!
- Your artwork is yours, and you will get full credit for it. We just want to promote artists and other inspired souls.
- You don't have to be the most skilled artist in the world--or even consider yourself an artist. ATCs are about expressing yourself through painting, drawing, collaging and general creativeness. Primitive/folk or outsider art is welcome.
- Deadline: First run of submissions must be post-marked by June 30, 2014.
- Email for mailing information: firstname.lastname@example.org
The ACEO above was created by ebay user acatnamedfrank. I purchased the original a couple months ago. Love it!
On Sunday, June 22, I marked off my number one cemetery on my Bucket List: Hollywood Forever in Los Angeles. It did not disappoint. It's actually even more beautiful in person. And my expectations were high. I'd been wanting to see it for years.
First stop, the Fairbanks memorial. It's larger than life and made of gorgeous marble. It has a reflecting pool in front of it. It didn't have much water in it and it was green and a bit mucky, but it's still impressive and stately. Surrounded by palm trees and sunshine, I was able to pay my respects to silent film star Douglas Fairbanks and his actor son, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
The stars abound in this beautiful cemetery at 6000 Santa Monica Boulevard. But even if there weren't Golden Era Hollywood celebrities buried here, it would be worth a visit to see this amazing park.
It was established in 1899 and was originally named Hollywood Memorial Park. For many years, it was the place to be buried. According to Interment.net, the cemetery had 100 acres, but 40 of them were sold to Paramount Pictures for their expansion in 1920. By the 1990, the cemetery had fallen into disrepair and was an absolute mess. Enter Forever Enterprises and the Cassity brothers; the cemetery was restored to its former glory starting in 1998. Now they show films projected on the side of a large mausoleum, host concerts and a large Day of the Dead Festival each year.
If you visit L.A., make sure Hollywood Forever is on your list of places to visit. Make sure you stop by the flower shop inside the gate (to the right) and purchase a map of stars' burial places (currently $5, and it's totally worth it since there are SO many stars). They also have a book about the cemeteries and the stars on sale for $20, and it includes maps of the stars' locations--so you can save the extra $5 by not having to buy a map.
I'll be posting soon about other cemeteries in the L.A. area, including Inglewood Park Cemetery, Westwood Village Memorial Park and
You can learn about many of the stars buried Hollywood Forever at Seeing Stars.
It's not the best quality, but the subject matter is good. I stopped by Davenport Memorial Park in Davenport, Iowa, today after work and on my way to meet my husband, kid and parents to see "Godzilla." (Opening night, whoo hooo!)
I wasn't sure whether my iPhone and YouTube would allow for me to record a video filmed "sideways" and post it in a watchable way. While worrying about that, I neglected to switch the photo setting to video. So I wandered around talking about stuff for nearly five minutes before I realized all I had done was take a couple pictures. And this is why I'm in charge of social media for my day job ...
Anyway, I recorded another one that actually did what I hoped it would do--and I turned on the recording. The result is a bit jerky (motion-wise, not me ... at least I hope not!) and not very smooth. For a spur-of-the-moment video, I guess it's okay. At least I did it.
I also took a pic of the tower in Davenport Memorial and will post that and a postcard image of it I discovered on ebay on my cemetery/postcard blog.
I hope you enjoy the video, for what it's worth. I hope to do more this spring and summer!
Cemetery: Holt Cemetery
Location: New Orleans, La.
Style: Underground burials, paupers cemetery
Active or inactive: Active
Good to know: The grounds are very uneven, so watch your step. The cemetery is still in use, though no plots have been sold for years. Families who own plots are allowed to continue to bury family members in their plots. Many graves are the final resting places of multiple family members. Graves are dug by hand in this cemetery. (Learn more about Holt from an old blog post of mine.)
Notable graves: Buddy Bolden, Jessie Hill
Remarkable markers: Most of the markers in Holt are remarkable because they are homemade. Many are made from materials that were on-hand (yard landscaping items and decor, wooden planks, etc.).
What else you can do in town ...
What else to see: There are so many wonderful things to do in New Orleans, you won't have a problem keeping yourself busy.
Plan to visit other cemeteries? Make sure you go with a group to any of the cemeteries in the French Quarter. It's easy to get lost in them (the tombs are really tall), nad
Where to eat: Cafe du Monde for chicory coffee and beignets, Acme Oyster House, Corner Bar for oyster po' boys, Pat O'Brien's for hurricanes, Absinthe House for absinthe drink (if you like black licorice flavor), Muriel's for a fine dinner, Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop (bar) ... there are oh so many places to eat and drink!
Cemetery: Granary Burying Ground
Location: Tremont Street (between Park and School streets), Boston, Massachusetts
Style: Burying ground established in 1660, mostly slate markers
Active or inactive: Inactive
Good to know: Self-guided tours are easy in Granary because there are informative placards throughout the grounds; for more information, check out the Wikipedia page
Notable graves: Paul Revere, three signers of the Declaration of Independence (Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Robert Treat Paine), Peter Faneuil, victims of the Boston Massacre, Benjamin Franklin's parents, Mary Goose (aka Mother Goose)
Remarkable markers: Beautiful slate gravestones depicting winged skulls (death's heads), winged effigies, urns, willows, skeletons, skulls and bones; obelisk marking the graves of Benjamin Franklin's parents' grave
What else you can do in town ...
What else to see: It's Boston--what can't you do in Boston? Definitely follow the Freedom Trail.
Other burying grounds: King's Chapel, Copp's Hill, Central (in Boston Common),Phipps Street, Eliot, Westerly
Cemeteries: Forest Hills, Holyhood, St. Joseph, Evergreen, Baker Street Jewish Cemeteries; Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge
Where to eat: Where to begin ... During my recent trip, I went to the Union Oyster House (oldest continually running restaurant in America--since 1826), Empire Garden Restaurant (Chinese dining in an old theater in Chinatown), Fajitas & 'Ritas (Texas cuisine at a great price in the Theatre District), Dunkin Donuts (I had to mention them because there are DD's on every block in Boston and beyond in Massachusetts). These are just a few of the restaurants you'll find in the city, so I really can't begin to tell you about the wonderful places I haven't been to yet. So here's a list of Boston Magazine's Best Restaurants & Food in Boston 2013.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!