Sunday, August 5, 2012

Waking the Dead: "Gon But Forgoten"

Unlike many people, I have never gone through a "Goth" phase.  I am just too square.  With few exceptions, I've always been drawn to the merry rather than the macabre.  One of those exceptions is cemeteries; I love them.  I love the tranquility.  I love the history.  I love the ritual.  I love the monuments and tributes.  I love the universality of honoring loved ones who have passed on.  Okay, okay, I love that they can be a little spooky too.  

One of my favorite cemeteries was one we found on a coastal hike starting from Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia.  If I find some of our pictures from Waverley Cemetery, I'll have to share them with you.  I'm sure the significance of the cemetery, beautifully poised on a cliff above the ocean, is without end to an expert in the history of colonial Australia; its graves date to some of the earliest British inhabitants of New South Wales.  To us it was simply a lovely place to stop and explore along our walk.  The effects of time and of the salty, ocean air are quite evident, and lend an added measure of drama to the final resting place of Australian notables.  It is one that I would love to revisit and strongly recommend that you visit it if you're ever down Bondi way.

Mary beneath the archway to Anaheim Pioneer Cemetery 

Back home we were given a tour of Anaheim's Pioneer Cemetery by some of its most famous residents (Anaheim, not the cemetery specifically), our friends Bob and Amber.  Founded in 1866, it may not be quite as old or quite as dramatic as a cliffside graveyard in Australia, but what we saw inside was pretty inspirational.  We were careful to go during the brightest light of day so we wouldn't have bad dreams that night.

"Precious darling, thou hast left us,
Left us yes, forever more.
But again we hope to meet thee
On that bright and shining shore."

Anaheim Cemetery is home to the oldest mausoleum on the west coast of the United Sates.  Within its walls also stand the markers of many important names from the annals of Orange County history.

Samuel Kraemer was the first white settler in the area
 to start farming, introducing new techniques for
cultivation and irrigation.

Augustus Langenberger and Clementine Schmidt Langenberger were
part of the original Anaheim Cemetery Association - pioneers in Anaheim
 and founders of Anaheim Cemetery.  

The Langenberger family mausoleum, built in a Spanish mission style, is a highlight of
the cemetery tour.
The Kraemer's portal to the eternities
Anaheim was largely a German settlement, so many of the oldest graves are entirely in German.

Very roughly translated, the epitaph says, "Here resting softly this man sleeps."
...or maybe just "Rest in peace."
How's that for only one year of high school German??? Pretty bad, probably.

There were many veterans' graves as well.,  Not being a
 historian, I had to look up the significance of the star marked G.A.R.
 G.A.R. stands for Grand Army of the Republic and signifies the
 deceased's service in the American Civil War.

As much as I enjoy history, it is really the ornate headstones that hold all of my interest.  Blame it on the grave markers in the queue at Disneyland's Haunted Mansion, but I am always on the lookout for interesting shapes, intricate carvings, beautiful statuaries, and funny epitaphs.  As it is only but a couple of miles away from Disneyland, I almost wonder if some of the Imagineers came to Anaheim Cemetery for a little inspiration.

I knew the odds were against me, but I really did spend a fair amount
of time looking for a marker that read "Fronts."

I love the draped fabric carved into this headstone.

A bit of faux bois never hurt anyone.

A bit more faux bois with a hanging scroll
I love the statues of angels.
I wonder if statues like this were individually-carved
 or cast from a mold.

I also wonder if there are any craftsmen around
who still create this kind of marker.

For every elaborate monument there is one so simple that it serves merely as practical documentation.

The saddest headstones are of course the most diminutive - those belonging to children.  I had never noticed before, but many of the miniature, heart-shaped headstones document the age of the child including the months and days.

"Baby Twins"

Obviously, the purpose of wacky tacky is not to be a huge downer, so we have to show you one of the strangest grave markers that we found, the one belonging to 19-year-old John A. McCoy.

"Killed on a thresher"
I am stumped as to why his family thought this was absolutely
necessary to include on the headstone - especially if they were charged
by the letter.  If that was the case, I think I probably would have
left off that gory little tidbit of information.

By far, the most significant and interesting headstone to me was a tiny marble slab marking the grave of an infant child.  Hand-carved, it seemed to tell the whole story of the family that lost their baby, Louise.  They were clearly neither wealthy nor well-educated, but the love for their child was abiding.  I imagined that they spent all the money they could afford on the marble itself (unhoned, unpolished), and then were left to their own devices to carve it.  I find that the spelling mistakes and omissions/edits actually deepen the sweetness and sadness of this tiny headstone.

"Louise Cowan
Born March 31 '14
Died May 15 '14
Gon but ^ forgoten"

Anaheim Cemetery
1400 E Sycamore St
Anaheim, CA

Walt Disney and an Imagineer, Marc Davis, discuss
the development of The Haunted Mansion.

What do you think, is it weird to like cemeteries so much?  Have you visited a cool cemetery lately?  Do you have a cemetery close to you that is the final resting place for someone famous?  Or even better, someone infamous?


Mr. Tiny


  1. I do love a good cemetery. Thanks to the old ones being built on unwanted land .ie. the top of the hill, they always have the best views.

    1. Whereabouts in Australia are you from? VHave you ever been to Waverley? It is the only one we visited while we were down under but I'm sure there are plenty of neat ones down there; I am sure is this because i think EVERYTHING in Australia is awesome!!!

  2. I learned to "keyboard" on a typewriter and I was lousy at corrections. Eraser dust falling into the mechanism, etc. So I hoped (against hope) for every page to be perfect the first time.
    Now I'll probably have nightmares about making errors when carving on stone...

    1. I think I would have written it out and worked off of my draft before I jumped right in to carving! I still love all the mistakes.

  3. I love cemeteries, too. My family cemetery is a little old one out in the country, with family graves from the 1800's. I find a great deal of peace when I go there - or to any cemetery for that fact. The Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, RI is wonderful to walk around in, so quiet, beautiful, lovely headstones and mausoleums, flowers, trees, so so peaceful. There is one beautiful angel that I can go and sit at to "talk" to deceased relatives when I can't get out to the country. You can sit on the step and gaze up at this angel and feel so calm. People shouldn't be afraid of the's the living you must be aware of!!

    1. Amen! I really am far more spooked by the living! Your family cemetery sounds lovely; it's nice to have a place to go to just be quiet and reflect.

  4. When I was a kid we went to the cemetery all the time. I know weird right, no it was awesome, this cemetery had two herds of deer, on brown and one white! They also had a little pond with ducks, geese and peacocks oh and a horse. Basically, we got to go to the petting zoo for free anytime we wanted!

    1. That is exactly the reason I love cemeteries; they are markers of people and time, but they seem separate from time and place. How cool to have all the woodland creatures!

  5. I don't mind cemetaries. It seems when I do go it's only because it's a tourist-trappy type of grave. Like Elvis' or James Dean's.

    1. I love celebrity graves too! For me, the more obscure the better!

  6. I love old cemeteries. I can't wait to stroll through some of them in New Orleans. And you didn't have to be goth. I was goth enough in high school for the both of us. :)

    1. It seems like everybody had a bit of a goth phase. I thought I skipped mine but I've always been a bit of a late bloomer. Make sure you take pictures so we can see Nola's creepiest crypts!

  7. Several large old cemeteries in Colma, south of San Francisco-- the living residents of that town are far outnumbered by the dead.

    1. Spooky! I'm planning on heading up that way later this year; I might have to add a stop on my route.

  8. I visited a nice cemetery when we were in vacation I wanted to made some pictures for a post but felt quite weird to want to take pictures of dead people place.... don't know why... American and european cemeteries are so different!

    1. I am absolutely shameless when it comes to taking pictures!!! Call it the American in me...hahahaha. We did get in trouble the other day for taking photos; it was the first time that ever happened.