Wandering Through the Graveyard, Yeah, the Bell Tolls for Me

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They say, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls.”  I used to be able to hear various church bell cotillions growing up, but today the only things I hear from my surroundings are the various airport noises, police and fire sirens, and the tornado siren that goes off every Wednesday at noon.  Perhaps the church bell cotillions have gone out of style, in much the same way as we try to distance ourselves from the natural rhythm of death and dying.  In Victorian times, death was up close and personal and in your face.  There were no nursing homes to warehouse the elderly, and for the most part, when one got seriously ill or injured, death came quickly, usually either on the spot or at home.  There were no fire squads or life-flights or trauma units to tend to the catastrophically injured.  People didn’t linger on in cancer wards or on machines in intensive care units, sequestered off to die, far away from prying eyes.  You just bit the big one wherever you happened to be.

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Maybe some Metallica, cranked up, would help.  I doubt it.

Infants and children died at an alarming rate as well, which begs the question, how emotionally invested were parents in their children?  I could see the temptation in those days to keep loved ones at arm’s length rather than to dare to get too close, but I’m emotionally distant to begin with.  I don’t like getting too close to anyone even if I am somewhat confident of their continued longevity.

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I do think that this mother was very close to her departed six-year old Wallie.  This headstone is both unique, and to me, rather sad.

Maybe wandering through a graveyard is macabre, and certain graveyards have a sort of a creepy vibe to them, but others are pleasant to wander through.  I’ve always found the Marion Cemetery to be a fascinating and aesthetically pleasant place to wander about, at least in the daytime.  I’d like to go back again with an empty memory card and several hours to simply take pics and read the headstones and try to visualize the people whose lives were behind them.

There are graveyards closer to my house, but there’s something intriguing knowing that I have relatives buried in the ones up in Marion County.  Some of my relatives’ graves are marked, but some aren’t, and most, I’d have fun finding.  I have yet to find the numerous relatives of mine that are buried in Marion Cemetery, but I also have to remember that place is massive- it covers hundreds of acres and goes back to before the Civil War.   When I took this batch of pics I was mostly wandering through the Civil War era sections of the cemetery.  It was cold that day and after about two hours I’d pretty much gone through my memory card (I have a bigger memory card now) and my joints’ tolerance for cold and damp. I’ve not done much traipsing about in other parts of it.  Yet.

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Amos Kling was Florence Harding’s father. His obelisk is rather impressive, but I didn’t step back and get a pic of the whole thing.

I’m still amazed at how much money people had to have spent on some of these monuments.  Either Marion County was a far more opulent place back in the 19th and early 20th centuries (I’m guessing this one) or people spent a lot more scratch on the dead than they do now.  Maybe it was both.

I do know there are a good number of unmarked graves even in the Marion Cemetery which is the largest (and highest dollar real estate) cemetery in Marion County.  Whether poverty is the main reason behind that. or indifference, I don’t know.  I know some people die and nobody really cares too much about remembering them, but in the end how many people really are remembered for long, and how long do those stone monuments last?  Many of them from the 1880’s and earlier are almost beyond deciphering.

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This one always intrigued me- is it an idealized image of the deceased or a heavenly specter, or both?

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I think they were referring to the building being built.  Still funny though.

The Three “Esses,” a Walk in the Graveyard, and a Limited Time Offer

I always knew that guys had it easier in regard to a lot of every day things.  Their morning get-ready routine goes as follows: Shit. Shower. Shave., which are known collectively as “The Three Esses.”    No fussing about with makeup or hair styling or any of that noise.  Their haircuts cost less.  They don’t have to fuss over clothing choices (usually) and generally aren’t that picky as to whether or not their clothing is clean.  It took me years to convince Steve-o that sniffing the crotch of one’s pants is not an acceptable method to discern the difference between “soiled” and “fresh.”   They eat anything as long as it contains the three food groups- caffeine, nicotine, sugar and grease, remembering always that alcohol is a sugar.

The bad thing is that some of the guys I know probably have to have someone write down the Three Esses on their bathroom mirror, lest they forget them.  Of course I would have to add a bit of a dental hygiene regimen to that- please brush your teeth, and Listerine is not a bad idea either!

I finally figured out what the major advantage is to being born male:

When a male child is born it is as if the universe makes a statement to him. You are made exempt from household chores by the magical power of possessing the Twig and Berries!  Schwing! Jerry never literally spelled it out that way, but in practical application he might as well have. A swinging Johnson apparently gets nearly half of the human population out of a LOT of work.

I did manage to take a nice, long wander about in the Marion Cemetery yesterday.  I dumped a lot of the crap in my memory card (several times) and still didn’t scratch the surface as to cool old gravestones to take pics of.  The angel (above) really struck me.  I hadn’t noticed it there before, but the entire cemetery is about two square miles which is a lot of wandering about.  Most of my wanderings yesterday were in the old / high faluting part of the cemetery with the really over the top monuments.  For those who think old ostentatious grave markers are really way cool also, you can view the slideshow on Shutterfly .  Nobody did death like the Victorians.

I was shocked by the number of stillborn infants, very young children, and women who died in their early-to-mid twenties, though I shouldn’t have been.  In the 19th and early 20th centuries one in four women died in childbirth and infant mortality was at times almost 50%.   Usually there were no causes of death on the gravestones except for the some of the Civil War Veterans who were killed in action.

I find this one particularly sad.  Either Wallie was an only child, his parents had a lot of money, or both.  It’s beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.

Life is a limited time offer.  I guess that is the lesson to take away from an afternoon in the graveyard.

Lust?  What’s that?

Oh, yeah.  It’s been a very long time.