Atlanta Cemetery Sojourn

I recently attended a librarian’s conference in Atlanta, and had a couple of days on the weekend to visit cemeteries. I enjoy visiting cemeteries because they’re interesting, but these two also had personal connections.

Our first stop was Crest Lawn Memorial Park (formerly Crestview Cemetery). It’s fairly ordinary but this is where my great grandparents are buried. After a bit of time searching in the appropriate section in the cemetery, we found their gravestone. It listed only their surname but had no dates or names on it. I guess no one had the money or inclination to engrave it after they died. A few feet away is the grave marker of their son, my great uncle, Frank. It was interesting to visit the graves of family I’d never known. My grandfather was extremely secretive about his family, so we don’t know much about them.

©2012 Todd Mecklem

©2012 Todd Mecklem

The second cemetery, Oakland, was far more interesting from both a historic and an aesthetic point of view. It was designed to be a garden cemetery, and has interesting pathways and lots of green space. Famous people buried here include Margaret Mitchell, Bobby Jones, and Maynard Jackson. Many Confederate soldiers were laid to rest here – the row after row of same sized gravestones is eerie and sad.

My family connection is that my great-great-great aunt and uncle McAllister are buried here. The other photos are of things I found interesting. I wish we’d had more time to wander.

©2012 Sue Mecklem

©2012 Sue Mecklem

©2012 Sue Mecklem

©2012 Sue Mecklem

©2012 Sue Mecklem

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Highgate Cemetery, London

It’s been some time since I last posted cemetery photos but the cool weather reminded me of our trip to London in the spring. We spent a few hours at Highgate Cemetery, which was surprisingly empty. Doesn’t everyone visit cemeteries on vacation? It was lush and green with lots of wild vegetation throughout the cemetery. I found it peaceful, as I always do at cemeteries.

Remnants of a life

So green...

Blue flowers and decaying headstone

Todd in front of Karl Marx's grave

Spanish Republican - idealist, optimist

A famous mycologist?

And still more greenery....

Certosa Cemetery, Bologna

One of the off-beat things my sweetie and I like to do on our trips is to visit local cemeteries. I think it’s really interesting to see the different ways our beloveds who die are honored. My very limited experience is that in France, Italy, and Mexico, cemeteries are contemplative spaces with interesting sculpture and stories. The Maryland cemetery my grandparents are buried in is so boring – the headstones must be flat so the grass can be properly mowed, there are rules about flowers and trinkets that can be left, and very few people wander around. In contrast, we always see people at foreign cemeteries wandering around looking at the graves.

Certosa Cemetery is in Bologna, outside the walls of the city. It was previously a monastery, founded in 1334, and closed 1n 1797. In 1801 the cemetery was established, and the monastery was remodeled and incorporated into the design as the mausoleum. It’s a beautiful cemetery with amazing art and sculpture, and was visited by Dickens, Byron, and Stendhal on their grand tours of Italy. For more information see the Associations of Significant European Cemeteries website.

One thing I really liked about this cemetery was the photographs of people on the graves. It makes the grave seem less anonymous, and gives us a tiny glimpse of who the person was. There were lots of real flowers on the graves, and we saw a number of people tidying them. Sadly, my grandparents’ graves probably haven’t been visited, much less tidied, in years. I suggested a picnic at the cemetery one time but my cousins thought it was a bizarre idea.

Famiglia. Photo by Sue Mecklem

Famiglia Masi. Photo by Sue Mecklem

Gravestone with family photos. Photo by Sue Mecklem

Child's gravestone. Photo by Sue Mecklem