You know me and cemeteries. I can't resist them. I picked this one out of some guidebook or other, where it was listed as a "historic" cemetery. (Historic, for those outside the U.S., basically just means "old.")
One reason I love visiting these out of the way cemeteries is I know most of the dead have been long forgotten. Many graves are overgrown, hidden within shrubbery, trees, etc. A lot of the stones are broken or illegible. So I take photos of some of the more impressive or poignant graves, rubbing off lichen so they can be read – not just by me, but by anyone else who happens by. And I post the photos here, for others to see and hopefully enjoy.
Cemeteries hold life stories. If you're willing to do some investigating you can learn about the people who settled the area. Many times part of their story is etched on the marble. Those are my favorites. I love reading epitaphs, whether they're funny, sad, or simply informative. I like them all.
But mostly, I like the idea the dead and forgotten will never know someone, a hundred years or more later, read their tombstone and thought about them, wondering what sort of life they lived, what their sorrows and joys were. It's almost like keeping them company for a short while, after they've been alone for so long. That's how it feels to me, that for that brief moment someone cared enough to bend over and read the last words written about a total stranger, to pull back the weeds or right a fallen urn. Just to be there. It seems like a right thing to do.
Then I pop out from behind a tombstone, grab one of my kids with a clammy hand, and scare the living hell out of them … Kidding! If I did that they'd NEVER go to another one with me. It's hard enough convincing them as it is.
Before I close, I have to give due credit to the rest of my family for making the trek from the town up to this cemetery. They bore up well, though it was hotter than hades that day. My daughter and I, for whatever reason, thought it would be a cool enough day to wear jeans. Very much NOT a good idea. By the time I'd had my fill of photography – which I truncated out of mercy – we were all sweaty and miserable. Fortunately, the town had an ice cream shop so we could cool back down before we hit the road yet again.
Next stop, really this time, the California redwoods…
6 thoughts on “Vacation 2009 – 1st Leg – Pt. 4 – Jacksonville, OR Cemetery”
I remember bonding over our shared love of visiting graveyards and cemetries! This one has produced some wonderful photographs. I too love looking at the names, imagining the lives, and how surprised they’d be that someone would be doing this years and years later.
Very evocative photos. I like visiting cemeteries, too, and sometimes tidy up.
Those look like double exclamation points on the last marker. Strange, and not very soothing . . .
P.S. Love the new look and layout! Clever and clean.
J.G., thanks for the compliment. I’m going to be too busy for a while to do the monthly banner, plus I stumbled on this way to do a wider format in Typepad. So I grabbed it. I use CSS language to customize the banner and add the side art, and voila!
J.G. – I agree re: the exclamation points. It’s akin to saying, “Rest, dammit!”
Simon, you’re so fortunate having access to MUCH older cemeteries there. I love visiting cemeteries in New England, which is as old as things get here. Someday I hope to get back over the pond. I may never leave the cemeteries …!