Tag Archives: cemetery.

Running Away Part 2 : Memorial Park Cemetery Crystal Grotto

grotto4bwwebMany might choose Paris or Istanbul as a runaway destination. Having only a few hours on a Sunday afternoon and an expired passport eliminated those possibilities. Instead, Memorials Park Cemetery was my destination, a road trip of about eight miles.The cemetery is home to the Crystal Grotto and its fantasy shaped structures.I chose my infrared camera because it would accentuate the otherworldly feel . I viewed  the cave and tree as imaginary housing, fit for visiting sprites or hobbits.

grotto2web

grotto1origblur-web The faux bois structures suit the park well and it’s hard to believe they are cement.A folk artist from Mexico, Dionicio Rodriguez created the vision from his imagination. Hired by the cemetery’s founder, Clovis Hinds, Rodriguez earned $75.00 per week over a ten year period during the Depression. His creations are dream – like and religiously significant.

grotto5bw-web Working in steel and copper to form supports, the structures were formed in cement over wire. Using his hands, twigs and dinner utensils for tools, he simulated wood structures that suggest fairies and woodland creatures.Calling his work, “el trabajo rustic”, Rodriguez built Abraham’s Oak that towers 15 feet tall and 9 feet in diameter.

grottotreebw-web There is the Cave of Machpelah which is named for a burial cave from the Holy Land. The reflecting pool is the Pool of Hebron, and the Grotto appears as a mountain shaped form which houses the crystal cave. All are entirely hand-built. Walking into the cave you are stunned to find formations of limestone, rock quartz crystal and cement forming backgrounds for murals of scenes of the life of Jesus.

grottoint1-blur-web The artwork  and grotto are on the National Register of Historic Places.

plaqueblur-web

muralgrottowebMentally moving into the imaginative structures provided a needed break. I returned home energized  and without expense or jet lag.

Advertisements

Magnolia Cemetery or I Am Not a Ghoul

 

cemeterypyramidir-webI’m really not a ghoul, but I do have a strong fascination for old cemeteries. Whenever we travel, I’m on the lookout for old burial grounds. I can’t resist the stories and always find unusual carvings or monuments. Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina is an especially interesting one. The setting features a lake, huge  trees laced in Spanish moss, and abundant wildlife. Birds and small animals wander freely. Many Civil War soldiers, as well as the crew of the Hunley submarine, keep company with the city’s founding families . The delicate ironwork fences and ornate gates made me think about using their designs in a quilt. (But that’s another post.) The pyramid captured my imagination and with the shadowing palm trees, I could almost believe I’d been transported to Egypt.

cemeterybridgeirbw-blur-web


Finding Books in the Cemetery

Shooting infrared in old cemeteries is a passion of mine. The carver’s art , the names and the stories keep me curious. I’ve come across many symbols and decorations, but when I came across this monument with books on shelves, it made me wonder. I’m a reader. I thought about the family. Were they readers? Were they trying to show their level of education? Maybe they were teachers? I saw them as kindred spirits.I ‘m a mystery freak who can’t get enough of them.The more intricate the puzzle, the more I savor the mystery. Often , you’ll find me with my nose in a book or ebook. I used to worry that I wasn’t spending my time reading the classics or current book club fads. While I’m sure there are wonderful books I’ve missed, I’ve read and enjoyed so many. Obviously I can’t take books with me, and accepting the idea that life is finite, should I be compiling a list of books that I can’t miss? A bucket list doesn’t feel like the right term. One of my ideas of heaven would include a never-ending supply of Earl Grey tea, a comfortable chair to curl up with my dog,  near a big window  that overlooks an English garden ,and a collection of unread mysteries to encourage me to rest between my travels.Hell would be most like the old episode of The Twilight Zone in which a bank clerk spends his lunchtime in the vault reading. One day, after a nuclear (?) disaster, he finds himself the lone survivor. He wanders the streets and finds the library . Realizing he has all the time in the world to enjoy the books is a gift. As he heads up the steps, he trips and his glasses tumble from his nose and break. I saw the episode once when I was a teen and it has stayed with me.Definitely frightening! I guess I can compile a Don’t Wait to Read This!  list. Which books would you include?


Wooldridge Monuments: An Unwritten Novel

Driving into Maplewood Cemetery in Mayfield , Kentucky on a late summer afternoon, the shadows lengthened. A perfect time to explore the monument that has stood silently for over a hundred years.  A novel remains buried here. The story of our protagonist, a horse trader by the name of Colonel Henry G. Wooldridge, involves lost love, ego and loneliness.

Wooldridge, a lifelong bachelor, lost the last of his three sisters in 1892. Her death begins his quest to build a monument to himself and his family. Over the next seven years, local sculptors carve the images of his brothers, Alfred, Josiah and W.H. There is a statue of Colonel Wooldridge on his favorite mount Fop, as well as his two dogs and a random deer and fox for them to chase.

The story focuses on the women. Legend says that Wooldridge remained a bachelor after his young love, Minnie, died in a riding accident. You need to wonder about Minnie’s pull on him. Was she beautiful, gentle and loving? Did he give her the horse as a gift and grow unable to handle the guilt? Minnie is included in the party of statues ,but a family Bible and other records indicate she is his niece and not focus of the love story. What will the author decide?

The other women in the group include his mother Keziah, nieces Maud and Minnie, and sisters Minerva, Susan, and Narcissa. Did Susan’s character match her uninspired name? Did Narcissa live up to hers? Was Minerva an enchantress? Great characters for our unwritten story.

As you view the detail of the statues , you admire the craft and artistry of the sculptors. All of the pieces were done locally except for the man standing taller than the rest who is made of marble and carved in Italy, Wooldridge himself.

He appears twice in the group, which helps to develop his egotistic persona. Comparisons to pharaohs burying their loved ones with them come to mind.You might imagine that his fear of being alone at his death compelled him to have his family members with him so it is ironic to note that he is buried there alone. And ,as another element of our plot, his father is not included in the group.Psychological analysis? The monument is called “The Strange Procession That Never Moves.”

That remained true until 2009, when a three hundred year -old oak crashed down on the family during an ice storm and beheaded  all the statues except for his sisters and dog.Divine intervention, another plot twist? The monument was restored on site and remains open to the public.Inspiration and the unwritten story remain.


%d bloggers like this: