Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Grave of Wade Edwards
Oakwood Cemetery
Raleigh, NC

Tombstone Tuesday: A blog about a graveyard frog.....

How many of you examined my previous post carefully enough to catch a glimpse of the frog in the background? As I was marveling over the white bronze markers at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia (see previous blog), off in the distance I thought I saw a frog... but then I told myself that it was not possible. That no way, at this historic rural cemetery was there a frog amongst the monuments. So I scampered up the hill even further until I arrived upon this frog. Really. A frog.

I wish I could identify who the frog memorializes. I wish I could explain what the frog means. But all I can do is tell you the frog stood about 3 feet high, it was holding an American flag (a patriotic frog, apparently), and on it's stand were two photographs. The top one was a picture of the Beatles. On top of the photo was a candle, and 2 coins; one foreign and one a US penny.

Upon examining the back of the monument, there was a beer can jammed into the back open portion of the frog. He was aged, but not markedly so. Around the base of the frog were small stones/pebbles. The frog looked up, towards the sky.

If I were to pull out my trusty cemetery symbolism book, it would tell me that frogs are a symbol of armageddon. But somehow, that doesn't seem right! :-) This frog means a lot more then a cemetery symbolism book can tell us. This frog, in a cemetery with 18,000 Confederate Civil War dead, with US Presidents, and amazing monuments with symbols that tell us what whole communities valued, in a city that has an avenue of monuments to honor its heros, means more to someone then any of those things combined. It's not as simple as what a cemetery symbolism book can tell us. Maybe it's not for us to know.

But on a bright sunny summer day in Richmond, the frog caught my eye, and for a moment, I honored that frog and all it may symbolize.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hollywood Cemetery: graveyard with a view

Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond Virginia...Picture this: a hot summer day with cool breezes from the James River... and rolling hills as far as the eye can see... with monument after monument honoring Richmond's dead. Here in Hollywood cemetery, many of the permanent residents enjoy a beautiful view... for eternity. The skyline, the river... the hills... what more can one ask for?

The above picture is just one of a kazillion shots I took while at Hollywood Cemetery on Saturday. The Graveyard Rabbit of the Triangle ventured out of NC into VA... and was in awe over the small glimpse of this vast cemetery that I experienced.

According to Wikipedia (i question the source, but it's a direct link off of www.hollywoodcemetery.org)

"Hollywood Cemetery is a large, sprawling cemetery located at 412 South Cherry Street in Richmond, Virginia. Characterized by rolling hills and winding paths overlooking the James River, it is the resting place of two United States Presidents, James Monroe and John Tyler, as well as the only Confederate States President, Jefferson Davis. It is also the resting place of 25 Confederate generals, the most of any cemetery in the country. Included are George Pickett and J.E.B. Stuart.

Hollywood Cemetery was opened in 1849, constructed on land known as "Harvie's Woods" that was once owned by William Byrd II. It was designed in the rural garden style, with its name, "Hollywood," coming from the holly trees dotting the hills of the property.

In 1869, a 90-foot (27 m)-high granite pyramid was built as a memorial to the more than 18,000 enlisted men of the Confederate Army who are buried in the cemetery.

Hollywood Cemetery is one of Richmond's major tourist attractions."

The above photo is of 2 white bronze markers....which caught my eye so I ran up the hillside to see them. The hands shaking, while husband and wife, in this case could simply mean hello or good bye- as the cuffs are both gender neutral. Remember white bronze markers are not white nor bronze, but really have a blueish tint and are made of zinc. They could be ordered from catalogs during their hey day, primarily around the turn of the century and into the early 1900s. I've been a fan of the white bronze marker since my days in Hawai`i.

Normally I would crop the photo better, but I want you to look closely at the the monument up the hill from the white bronze markers.... that will be the subject of my next post... til then, fellow graveyard fans.... have a great day!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hollywood Cemetery Here I Come!

Hello, loyal readers... While I will make my way to Woodlawn and Maplewood Cemeteries in Durham this afternoon for findagrave.com requests.... tomorrow the Graveyard Rabbit of the Triangle will be headed to Richmond, VA...for a day of sightseeing! Top on my list of places to see is Hollywood Cemetery... so be sure to visit Sunday for new pictures...

have a great weekend...be sure to visit your local cemeteries!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Headless Angel, Maplewood Cemetery, Durham, North Carolina

Monday, June 8, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

The Rubicon

What is the Rubicon? And what does it have to do with funerary art? Two questions you very well may be asking yourselves right now!

The monument to the right is entitled the Rubicon, carved by local Raleigh artist Paris Alexander. What is the Rubicon? It is a river in Northern Italy- but it is synonymous for "the point of no return." When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 BC he broke the law which banned the crossing of the river with an Army, and there by made war inevitable. See how the Rubicon is a perfect symbol for death? Once you cross the "river of death" there's no turning back!

This monument, found at Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh is striking, to say the least. Commissioned by Sam Tarlton, it was created and placed before his death. It is eye catching and if you've ever been on my tour you know that I try walking right on by it...to see if anyone stops me to ask what it is!

Who was this unique man that commissioned such a beautiful piece of art? Sam Tarlton was a well known antiques dealer who was beloved in his community. For 14 years he headed up the North Carolina Historic Sites Division and was an antique dealer for over 40 years. According to his obituary published in the News and Observer after his March 12, 2009 death, "He had such a presence -- a twinkle, a good story, a great deal of charm -- as well as extraordinary knowledge," said David Lindquist, a Chapel Hill antiques dealer and long-time associate of Tarlton. "He was always willing to share it."

So on this Tombstone Tuesday, let's raise a glass to Sam Tarlton and other creative Americans who show their personality in life and in death! Cheers!