I spent most of Saturday hanging out with my friend Kastie having a bit of an adventure. It started out normal enough but knowing that I'm was involved, I am sure that you guessed it didn't stay normal for too long. I mailed my photos for the second photo scavenger hunt and then I headed over to the mall to meet up with Kastie. She needed a winter coat for next year and a I needed nothing (which means I ended up with three new lip glosses, two hand soaps, a tealight holder, two boxes of tealights, and a votive candle). After bowing to the consumer god, we grabbed some lunch and headed on to the real mission of the day.
Kastie is writing a book and she wanted to do some research for it so we headed out to the Mount Hope Cemetery in search of tombstones from the Civil War era (I told you it didn't stay normal for long). Kastie and I wandered around for three hours looking at tombstones and mausoleums taking pictures of the ones that interested us. We only say about a third of the cemetery and we didn't even make it to Woodlawn Cemetery to check out a specific tombstone that her aunt thought she would like to see. It turns out that Kastie's aunt has been documenting tombstones for years and has photos of thousands of grave sites. Kastie had no idea!
It was fascinating to see that even in death people still pay attention to trends. At some point, it was very trendy to have tree stumps incorporated into your tombstone. For a while instead of listing the deceased date of birth and death, the date of death was listed along with age in years, months, and days so you had to do a little math to figure out date of birth. I am happy to report that we have now moved beyond the age when women were only referred to as "wife of" on the tombstone. I mean if you want to put that, great, but for that to be the only thing listed because that was the only significance you had...not cool. Every once in a while we would stumble across something unique like:
a metal tombstone covered in some sort of paint to look like stone
an ornate door handle on a mausoleum
a tombstone with holes in it for no apparent reason
We are planning to go back at some point to check out the rest of the cemetery so Kastie can do more research and so I can take some more pictures. I discovered something new about myself: I like to make up stories to go with the tombstones to try to explain them. Periodically I will post a photo and the story that I made up to go with it. I don't know why I started doing it...probably some misguided attempt to make sense of death. The one photo I didn't take but wish that I had was an old gravestone that the elements had worn away almost all of the lettering. You couldn't make out the name, date of birth, date of death or any other identifying features but you could make out the epitaph "Gone but not forgotten."