Sunday, January 8, 2012

Okay, Who Hid the Cemetery?

Dutch urn garden: from Transformational Cemetery Design
I’m going to let you in on cemeteries’ dark little secret. It’s shocking and it’s despicable and if you’re the slightest bit squeamish, you may want to skip the next sentence. Cemeteries don’t have addresses. For the most part. A farm, a missile silo, a cement factory, a shooting range, a what-have-you out there in the countryside has an address. Not a cemetery.

“Cemetery? Well, let’s see. You drive out this away until you get to Cherry Hill Rd. You take that leftwise and after the road crosses a creek—Hawthorn Creek’s the name, but it don’t say that—you…”

What’s wrong with 50268 Cherry Hill Rd., I ask you?

I don’t know what it means that cemeteries, as a rule, don’t sport an address. For one thing, it probably means they don’t get much mail. But what if you want to be buried there? What if you want information about someone buried there? What if you want to visit Aunt Millie’s grave? Who ya gonna call? Gravebusters?

Find-a-Grave, genealogy sites, etc. can provide one with a lot of cemetery names, but locations can be sketchy, if at all. Slowly pouring over Google Maps is one of the best resources I know for finding cemeteries, but it’s far from complete. Recently, I accidentally downloaded a PDF listing of forty-two cemeteries in Jackson County, Oregon. Each had a photograph of the entrance and a detailed description of how to find the place. Three to a page. An example (sans photo) follows:

“ANTIOCH CEMETERY:  From Medford take Table Rock Road and go 7.5 miles to Modoc Road. Turn right on Modoc Road and go 1.8 miles to Antioch Road. Turn left on Antioch Road and go for 3.7 miles. Antioch Cemetery will be on the right after you cross Hwy. 234. Antioch Cemetery was established in 1867. Location: N42º 30.274´ W122º 54.088´”

There was absolutely no information as to who compiled the list; whoever it was, they did an extraordinary job. Exemplary, even. If every county in the country had such a listing, we’d be home free. Better yet, I now have a good excuse to head back down there and I know where I’m going.

Locating cemeteries is a local task. We still need a national database where each cemetery is geo-located. Think national; act local. Seems simple enough.

Yarauvi: from Transformational Cemetery Design
Two blogs that I ran across today:

The DailyUndertaker
(http://www.dailyundertaker.com/) Covers topics such as “Swedish Town Considers Recycling the Heat of Cremation,” “Dressing the Dead: An Interview with Designer Pia Interlandi,” and “Vulture Club: The Tower of Silence.” This is not your local mortuary. This appears to be a quite active site with a number of interviews over a wide variety of approaches to death, as well as articles of equal horizon, each more fascinating that the last. It takes the gloom and doom right out of the picture. I’ve been trying to convince people this dying business is fun; this site should be called the Daily Fundertaker.

Transformational Cemetery Design
(http://transformationalcemeterydesign.wordpress.com/) Comes with a more sober tone than the DU, and isn’t as prolific, which it makes up for in elegance. The author’s goal is to “transform the way cemeteries are experienced and used in the 21st century.” It’s a tall order, but he puts a good foot forward.

2 comments:

stevenreedjohnson said...

i have some stories about my families plot in Lone fir cemetery you might be interested in. Whats the best way to tell them to you?

Dead Man Talking said...

Hi Steven,

If you read this, contact me at johan.mathiesen@gmail.com.