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EVERY HALLOWEEN, my neighbor turns her side yard into a virtual cemetery, complete with bats, spiders, witches, ghosts, tombstones, and even an open coffin with the likes of Dracula inside  I can’t say I appreciate her  creative endeavors, dark as they may be, but this year, I did find they stimulated some interesting research. 

 

For example, I wondered:  What was the name of that fascinating cemetery in Paris that I visited some years ago?  And what is the name of the cemetery in downtown New York where all of the office workers come and sit on tombstones and eat their lunch each day?  Why, you may wonder, would I possibly care about such things?  I don’t know.  I just do. So I began checking them out.

 

THE INTRIGUING PARIS CEMETERY, it seems, is named Pere La Chaise, and it is the site of such graves as Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Marcel Proust, and even Jim Morrison. An interesting thing about the cemetery is that it has served as the archetype for practically all urban cemeteries built in the United States since 1831.

 

                                               You Need People

 

It is fascinating to walk around the Pere La Chaise, to see the tombstones of famous people, and to read what they say.  Provided, of course, that you do it during the day, as part of a tour, with plenty of other people around.  Other than that, well, let’s put it this way:  The cemetery is very Old World; the tombs are big, many above ground, and they can be scary.  Very scary. 

   —Don’t go there alone, at night, on Halloween.  You have no idea what might transpire!  Ohhhhhhh…

 

B UT…IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A REAL HALLOWEEN EXPERIENCE, GET A GROUP OF FRIENDS TOGETHER FOR SOME SPOOKY GHOST STORY-TELLING.  AND, PUT ON A MASK FOR REAL ATMOSPHERE (STAY OUT OF CEMETERIES):

 

 

 

 

                                

                                       Cemeteries –on a Serious Note

 

OF COURSE, THERE ARE innumerable intriguing cemeteries all over the world.  The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague, or La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, where Eva Peron is buried.

 

The military has always been given special burial treatment.  Arlington National Cemetery, for example, is “home” to the Unknown Soldier’s Grave, as well as John Kennedy and his brothers.  And then, there is the deeply moving American Cemetery on a cliff overlooking Omaha Beach in France, with its terribly sad endless rows of little white crosses and stars of David, there to commemorate the devastating Normandy Invasion of World War II.

 

SOME CEMETERIES AND BURIAL SPOTS can be surprising when, as a tourist poking in and out of things, you suddenly realize what they really are. That, too, can be scary! Westminster Abbey, for example, is a huge burial place. So is the Taj Mahal. And, what about the pyramids?  They are ancient, fantastic burial places for the Pharoahs.

   –Among other things, the pyramids remind us that it wasn’t too bad to die in Egypt if you were a Pharaoh, but oh, if you were just part of his domestic family!  Wives were buried alive with their dead husbands. So were all the Pharaoh’s personal servants, various high priests, and the pyramid’s architect. (You see, the architect had to know the way through the labyrinth pyramid to the inner burial spot, and that was never to be revealed.) 

 

 

                                                  Final Words

 

Oh, the intrigue of cemeteries!  The goose bumps!  The witches’ tales!  And, even sometimes, the fun of it all.  Like epitaphs.  They often make you forget you’re in the Land of the Dead.  Dorothy Parker once created the pithy epitaph, “Here I lie.  I’d rather be living in Philadelphia.” 

 

PHILADELPHIA OR NOT, COME HALLOWEEN AND YOU CAN HAVE LOADS OF FUN MAKING UP YOUR OWN EPITAPH, OR LISTENING TO OTHERS.  PUT ON A MASK AND LET PARTY-GOERS GUESS WHO YOU ARE FROM YOUR WORDS!

  • Papier Mache Masks in brilliant color – great for guys!

 

 

 

 

  • Phantom of the Opera Masquerade Mask with natural fit and flexibility.

 

   — Meanwhile, if you like life in the fast lane, you’ll love New Jersey’s Rebecca Freeland’s tombstone. It reads: “She drank good ale, good punch, and wine. And lived to the age of 99.”

 

A Uniontown Pennsylvania tombstone says, “Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake. Stepped on the gas instead of the brake.”

 

Harry Edsel Smith of Albany New York was awarded this remembrance:  “Born 1903 – Died 1942.  Looked up the elevator shaft to see if the car was coming.  It was.”

 

And, finally, an epitaph found in a Vermont cemetery that all good merchandisers will appreciate:

 “Sacred to the memory of my husband, John Barnes who died January 3, 1803.  His comely young widow, aged 23, has many qualifications of a good wife, and yearns to be comforted.”

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009


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