Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cemetery Photos Part 1

I grew up in an old area with a lot of old families, so the cemetery where my family members are buried is mostly made up of old graves.  On our visit there today, it suddenly occurred to me to take some pictures.  Because old gravestones, especially really old gravestones, are cool.

I'll start off with The Weirdness, because we still haven't figured this one out, and maybe someone reading this will see it and leave a comment saying, "I know EXACTLY what that means!"  And I'll leave it to that person to fill in the rest.

The little "W"'s are all over the place.  Little tiny stone W's.  When we saw the first one, we thought maybe it was a grave marker for some family whose name started with W who couldn't afford a real headstone.  This area's never been real flush with wealth, and there are numerous headstones that are about as simple and small as you can go.  But then we saw another, and another....and all in the old section, which admittedly, is 80% of the entire cemetery.  Then I noticed that they tend to be placed in spots that are next to the pathways and remnants of pathways, so I started to wonder if they're placemarkers for, well, the pathways.  But why the "W"?

Now, when I was a kid, we used to go over there more than we do now, mainly in the summer.  I always liked to go, because there were a lot of trees and the place was always breezy and sort of magically mysterious.  The newer section was boring to me, because the headstones were generic-looking, so I'd go walking off to the old section, which is dotted with headstones that range from surprisingly large to really astonishingly small.  There are a LOT of these:

When I was young, I thought that these gravestones belonged to people that were SO poor, they couldn't afford anything more than a tiny marker with "mother" or "son" printed on it.  I thought maybe you had to pay by the word, like a classified ad in the newspaper.  And when I saw these:

I thought they were the graves of the people who had more money, and could afford elaborate headstones with printing on all four sides and the inevitable urn sculpted on the top like the focal gem on a crown.  It wasn't until I was an adult that I had a slap-the-forehead moment, and realized that the two types of headstones are partnered to make up one actual gravesite:

There's the big fancy placemarker, which isn't a headstone at all, and then either branching off to the left and right or facing opposite, are the actual graves, which are marked with little stones:  "mother", "father", "daughter", etc.  I wouldn't have figured this out at all, probably, if I hadn't noticed that some of the tiny headstones, instead of saying "son" or whatever, had first names printed on them that were matching up with nearby big fancy placemarkers.

I know there may be a lot of you out there going, "Dude, seriously?  You didn't know that?"  but no, I really didn't.  I felt like Sherlock Holmes when I finally figured the whole thing out.  I still kind of do, actually, so....ahem.

I'm going to spread these photos out over a few entries, since there's so many.  Coming up:  Freemason symbols galore, and some tiny headstones that really are super-small and bare-faced because of a lack of funds, and some great big ones that really are big because that person had bucks.

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