Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 49: Friends Cemetery

I've always found old cemeteries intriguing.  When I was a teenager, many moons ago, I used to walk by the little cemetery in my hometown and pass a little headstone for a child, and I'd wonder who they were and why they had died so young.  As I got older, whenever I'd see an old cemetery, I'd stop and wander through the rows of headstones, taking note of the dates and inscriptions.  Shortly after I met my husband, we took a drive up through the Kootenays in BC to visit my family, and on the way back down we saw an old cemetery by a ricketty little church, so we had to stop.  Until we got chased away by the angry hoard of mosquitoes--veangeful spirits, perhaps?  We had mosquitos in the car for hours afterwards!



My children hold the same fascination with cemeteries. We live near a huge one that dates back to the mid 1800's, and the cemetery itself has a history as being the place where many of the victims of the Johnstown flood were buried. It is one of our favorite Sunday afternoon places. We walk over there, sometimes bringing a snack, and the kids have their favorite stone mausoleums that they like to visit. It's kind of funny, because last summer I took a picture of J behind some beautiful flowers. "Where did you take that?" "Um...the flowers were on someone's grave, and J wanted her picture taken with them, and they WERE pretty, and I'm sure Mrs. so-and-so wouldn't mind..."

Frankly, I think the majority of the spirits whose bodies are in the graveyard would probably find the laughter of children refreshing. We've had nice talks about life and death while walking through the cemetery. J thinks of it as a temporary storage facility for bodies until the resurrection. There's no sense of the creepy or scary. It's just what it is!


I was talking to a friend about our cemetery walks, and that it was a wonderful place to bring kids. There was plenty of open grassy space for the kids to wander, there was lots to talk about, and the kids thought it was great.

She thought it was kind of odd.

What do YOU think?

Today's photos were taken at an old Quaker cemetery in Bedford County, PA.  Drove by and had to stop. 



6 comments:

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

So funny because I have a huge thing for old cemeteries that dates back to when I was a teen. I can traipse thru them for hours, looking at the names, the remarriages and making up the family stories. You can track epidemics and people's infertility sagas. I find it so intriguing. My kids have had many a vacation picnic or "hang out" as I wander thru, and they've become intrigued as well. You're right; I think the people would be happy for the visits.

Jen said...

I just went on a bicycle tour of cemeteries here in Houston. The historical ones were beautiful. Our guide said that back before the internet and TV, people would ride the streetcar to the cemetery and spend the day picnicing and visiting with deceased loved ones. They weren't meant to be scary, deserted places.

Le blÖg d'Ötli said...

I think I can understand your interest... When I was young, my questions on life and death are "born" in cemeteries... One of the most strange of them I saw was the old jewish cemetery in Prague...

Allegria said...

Maureen: That's so true about fertility and epidemics. Sometimes it makes me sad. But it's also neat to think about who they were and their lives.

Jen: I wonder how the scary/deserted thing came about? I know in some cultures it's still very much a place of honor and respect and life.

Otli: Sounds fascinating, the Jewish cemetery. Where I grew up, there were a lot of Native Canadian cemeteries, with little houses built over top of the graves. I'd love to visit the pet cemetery in Paris--it's supposed to be really interesting.

Thanks for commenting, you guys. I appreciate it!

Owen said...

Really like this post, the way you tell the story, the pictures... I went to Johnstown once a long time ago, but did not see the cemetery... I do love to visit cemeteries, there are numerous earlier posts at the Magic Lantern Show about graveyards... Thanks for your visit there, am always happy to see people dropping in out of the blue blogosphere...

Allegria said...

Owen: Hey! Thanks for stopping by. I'm not sure how I ran into your blog, but I'm glad I did. The cemetery near where I live is one of several in town, but it's the most well known, with the memorial to the flood victims and a section full of plain, unmarked stones for unidentified victims of the disaster. The bodies were bodies were brought up the hill to Westmont, since everything else was inaccessable. Really an interesting place.