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.
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.|
|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.
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.
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.
Born March 31 '14
Died May 15 '14
Gon but ^ forgoten"
1400 E Sycamore St
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?