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.
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!