Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Cemeteries have always fascinated and frightened me with equal zeal. When I was a kid, my dad would take me on genealogy hunts which quite often included excursions to cemeteries throughout upstate New York. At a graveyard near Ithaca, we found a headstone that read:

"Kind reader as you pass by
As you are now so once was I
As I am now so you must be
Prepare for death & follow me"

I remember that was pretty heavy for a ten year old, and it certainly stuck with me. That day, the information collected by my father cultivated my passion for history and the poetic verse imparted an early inspiration to write.

Continuing in the graveyard vein, Little d and I read in a newspaper of a famous cemetery in Rayne, Louisiana that faces the ‘wrong way’. I must admit, I never realized there was a ‘right way’ to lay out the dead, but apparently bodies are customarily buried in an east to west orientation. However, this particular cemetery made Ripley's Believe It Or Not! because it’s one of the only known Christian cemeteries where the dead are buried north to south. This little tidbit made it interesting enough for us to check it out. Local folklore about the cemetery's misalignment has been passed down over the years, but no one really knows why it doesn’t follow tradition. With my ace photographer in tow, here are a few pictures:

Next to the open 'vaults'.

Christ on the Cross, rising from the east.

St. Joseph's Chrurch on the north end of the cemetery.

Renovation notice.

Walking the narrow path.

Pictures originally posted on the Axiom Report on 4/8/2008.


Clare2e said...

Hey, thanks for the blogrolling!

I'm a graveyard afficionado myself, and had never heard that about the alignment! Is it so they face the hopeful dawn? Mecca? : )

My mom was the history lover, and we'd make paper rubbings of the neatest markers or she'd send me to try to find the oldest ones. I still find cemeteries fascinating, and mostly beautiful, peaceful places. When I lived in Chicago, some of the big ones in the city were the best place to grab a chunk of absolute, shady quiet. When I was in high school in a smaller town, I knew most of the surrounding plots- small and large- and had favorite residents, did gothy little me.

On WoM, I did a My Town Monday on the Hartsdale Pet Cemetary, largest and oldest in the country. It was agony to cull my headstone pics down to just 10-ish.

Keep the grimmery coming!

pattinase (abbott) said...

We used to do rubbings until some noontime alcoholic wandering through told us we were stealing their souls.
I thought he had something there and have never done it again.

David Cranmer said...

You're welcome! I put up the link to WoM because the posts I've read are informative and entertaining.

I've heard about making paper rubbings of headstones. I wonder why my dad never did that for his genealogy gathering. Maybe he ran into a noontime alcoholic like the one Patti mentioned…LOL!

To this day whenever I'm at a cemetery, I'm also looking for the oldest headstone, figuring out the person's age, and wondering about their life and death. It's just fascinating to me.

I went back and read your blog about the pet cemetery. Great post and pics! People really do love their pets. Btw, I sympathize with the problem of culling pictures to a reasonable number. That can be a tough job.

Clare2e said...

You're too kind.

BTW, off-topic, but I watched the Brit Life on Mars series as it unrolled on BBC America. I liked it a lot. The story was cool and the acting was great! But the 70s here felt different than a run-down industrial Manchester of organized thuggery. I don't know how it's going to translate. I keep imagining Johnny Depp's drugged surfer character in Blow and I'm just not sure...

David Cranmer said...

Kind of like the idea that a photograph or rubbing steals the soul... interesting concepts.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody remember that Twilight Zone episode where Lee Marvin was called a coward and he had to go to a cemetary to prove his courage and stab, I believe, a pocket knife into the dead man's headstone?

David Cranmer said...

Anonymous, I sure do. I looked it up and it's called The Grave. I love The Zone and Rod Serling lived in Ithaca New York which is a stones throw from where I grew up.