Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Woodmen of the World: II
Plus Green Burials

George Cemetery

The local remnant rag, The Big Oh? (aka The Oregonian), had an article recently about the growing interest in green burials. It concentrated on the George Cemetery in the Estacada Cemetery District one of the best collection of small pioneer cemeteries in the state. The people who live in the district have faithfully assessed themselves taxes to maintain them. I owe them a revisit.

In any event, I’ve thrown this notice in with my second installment of Woodman of the World tombstones. I’m hoping you won’t mind.

Woodmen Part Two

Tillamook IOOF Cemetery

Olney Cemetery

Oakwood Hill Cemetery (Tacoma)

North Powder Cemetery

Cornelius United Methodist Cemetery

Lake View Cemetery (Seattle)

Lake View Cemetery (Seattle)

IOOF Cemetery (Lakeview, OR)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Woodmen of the World
Unite: A Photo Gallery: I

IOOF/GAR (The Dalles)

Granite Hill Cemetery

No one forgets their first Woodman of the World faux stump headstone. Cemetery novices tell you in an excited voice of this incredible find they made in a small cemetery near their home. Yep, WoW, as they’re known. The stump—fallen tree and all that—is a traditional symbol of death and has been used informally both here and in Europe for a long time, but the Woodmen of the World, in its program of providing tombstones for its members, kicked the image into high gear (can I say that?).

Union Cemetery

Riverside Cemetery (Albany, OR)

Hard information on WoW headstones is hard to come by; I don’t think there’s been a book about them, yet (authors take note). As this gallery attests, faux stumps were not the only motif the WoW used, but they were definitely the most notable. What’s particularly notable is that, despite their popularity and ubiquity, as far as I can tell, each one is unique. My understanding is that orders and drawings were sent to local craftsmen to execute the monuments, who in turn interpreted the drawings as they saw fit. Whatever the cause, the result has been a windfall of unique monuments across the entire country. In lieu of the book yet to come (I’m open to offers), I’m going to present here a selection of WoW headstones in a series of posts; there are too many for a single run.

Lone Fir Cemetery (Portland)

Testimony that at one time, at least, the WoW folk were more than a simple insurance agency is via a fabled performance venue in Eugene, OR, the WoW Hall, which was my introduction to the Woodmen of the World. Their active involvement in the WoW Hall has long since passed, but their name remains stuck with the theater they put together, which was—and still is—a showcase for some amazing performers. My most memorable nights there were watching Reverend Chumleigh and the Flying Karamazoff Brothers, along with Artis the Spoon Man, doing amazing feats of derring-do never equally anywhere, except, perhaps, at the Country Fair (little children, be warned). I’ll forever have a picture burned into my memory of Robert, the Juggler, backing offstage, his hands afire with lighter fluid, eyes as wide as pancakes, trying to keep the flaming tennis balls in the air before screaming. Ah yes, the good old days. The WoW Hall.

Brownsville Pioneer Cemetery

The Woodmen of the World still exist—they’d be happy to sell you some insurance—but their policies, alas, no longer come with a tombstone. It’s a pity, but we’ll just have to suffer through. Carve your own.

Mount Calvary Cemetery (Portland)

Technical Note:

The framing for these pictures was done in Picnik, as a part of Flikr. It's slow, but I found opening two windows at a time (thank God for Firefox) kept me going full time. The hint to use it came thanks to fellow Flickrdick doubledcop. If anyone else wants to use the basic program (there's a "premium" package one can pay for), I have a couple hints. A) You can put multiple frames around one picture by simply repeating the process. B) When choosing frame colors, the little eye-dropper will pick up the color from wherever it's pointed, not just the color chart provided. I like to get my frame colors from within the photo itself; that way I'm sure the colors are complimentary.

Calvary Catholic Cemetery (Galveston, TX)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Weekend Water
A Gallery of Pleasure Craft Tombstones

Havurah Shalom Cemetery

Wisner Cemetery

Oswego Pioneer Cemetery

I promised long ago to complete my trio of boat monument posts; the first two, you’ll recall, covered fishing and working boats. That I have less pleasure craft than working boats in my collection might be due to my preferences as well as luck in what I find. In the archetypes I chose to accompany this post I notice, just for example, no kayaks (not to mention surf boards) or pontoon boats. Lack of pontoons might be a regionalism, but we have a lot of kayaking in the mountains.

La Center Cemetery

Crescent Grove Cemetery (Tigard, OR)

Pioneer Cemetery (Pioneer, WA)

Regionalism pops up in other ways. The small lakes of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, for example, don’t lend themselves to large sailboats; whereas the high-prowed McKenzie River boat is designed to ride over rocks in steep mountain streams. The small outboard fishing boats are universal as are canoes, speedboats pulling water skiers, and small cabin cruisers. There are no propeller propelled punts here.

Bilyeu Den Cemetery

Mt. Calvary (Eugene, OR)

I’ve thrown in two examples of the same stock design, a single fisherman in a small row boat, being used on two different stones conveniently rendered in complimentary colors. As far as I can tell, they’re essentially identical (slightly different water rendering) except that in the red version the fisherman has a pipe in his mouth. Ah, the personal touch.

Hayes Cemetery

Park Hill Cemetery (Vancouver, WA)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Campos Santos of New Mexico

A quick note here to alert you to an incredible selection of photos from New Mexican Campos Santos graveyards at a site called Crossroad. Their essential purpose "preserving the Unendowed cemeteries or 'Campos Santos' of New Mexico, as the saced and endangered places they are." I have put a link to them over on the side bar under "Dead on connections," so it'll be easy to find.m It's hard to look at them and not think of the cemeteries of their distant cousins, the Native Americans, who live up here. Certainly there is a form of continuity between them.

What the society does, beside taking evocative photos, is unexplained further. Whatever it is, I support it and strongly urge you to look at the pictures.