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Mt Auburn Cemetery: Laughing at Funerals 3

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Styles in epitaphs are as varied as the careers and worldviews of the interred. Kris, ever irreverent in her reverence, delights in showing me the ones who got a bit carried away as they were being carried away.

Give me the most complex Celtic cross you can carve. Really pull out the stops on this one. Hang the expense.  I happen to love its complexity. But there's also something kind of painful about the font. I imagine chiseling it all out of granite and it makes me sigh.

 There are graven resumes everywhere. Now, I have held a few jobs for one or two years, but I'm not going to commit them to marble. Wow. Seems to me Mr. Everett bounced around a bit. All right, he bounced in high places. But he still bounced. President of this, professor of that, minister of this, senator of that.

I wish you could hear Kris' helpless laughter as she shows me this one. I know it's hard to read, so here's what it says:

"An eminent American Inventor
whose great mind conceived
ideas and brought into operation
works of art that will live for ages."

Which is not, in itself, that funny until you walk around the stone and see the carved depictions of his works of art.

No explanation needed, apparently; we'll all know what that is. For ages.

 And that? Oh, there's one in every...shoe factory? I don't know why this delights me and Kris so, but it does. No disrespect to Thomas Blanchard or his descendants intended, but this monument cracks us up.

 As does this one, which I call LEMME OUT TEBBETTS!! I think they're trying to prevent noselessness here, protecting it from acid rain, but it's just sooo creepy to see Mr. Tebbetts fogging up the Plexiglas with his cold breath.


I'm gonna beat all you WikiGooglers. I didn't want to clog up the narrative with this, but Thomas Blanchard invented a mechanical tack-maker that could turn out 500 tacks per minute. Dang!
He also invented the first lathe that could turn irregular forms. Woo! My dad probably knew that already.
And a machine that could steam and bend dense wood.
How or whether these relate to the carved images on his monument, I'm not sure. The first one might be the irregular lathe.
I still find those images hilarious, but then you know I'm easily amused.

When our mother died, my brother said, "No epithets on the gravestone."


Then we all burst out laughing.

Mommy had a way with words and we could have made up any number of epigrams of what she used to say, and it would delight people in the future as these do you.

(BTW the guy in the grave next to hers has on his headstone a carving of a tractor trailer and the words "Any better, couldn't stand it.")

Sara--LOVE IT!! Any better, couldn't stand it!!

My wise friend John advises that Edward Everett is best known as the orator who spoke for two hours, wearing out the assembled mass before Abraham Lincoln stepped up to deliver the brilliantly short and succinct Gettysburg Address. Kris had told m e that too, but I am a bear of very little brain. hm hm hm.

You betcha, Edward Everett is well known in these parts for being the blowhard bore who couldn't shut up at Gettysburg. But in fairness, let us not forget to note that he wrote to Lincoln and all but apologized, saying:

"I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near the central idea of the occasion in two hours, as you did in two minutes."

Can't believe I haven't looked up Thomas Blanchard before you did, JZ.


Posted by Anonymous January 9, 2011 at 5:25 PM

What? You don't recognize Thomas Blanchard's automated envelope cutter and folder when you see one?!

A Google search showed some pretty cool stuff about Mr. Blanchard and his plethora of mechanical inventions.

I chuckled and enjoyed this series of graveyard posts.

We have a place like this in Nashville called Mount Olivet. If you are ever down this way, you should visit.

Edward Everett clearly couldn't keep a job. But Thomas Blanchard must have been a tacks and spin liberal, bless his pointy little head. What's going on your stone? I haven't given it much thought, but it would be easier on the stone mason if I just left it at "Rats."

Quite interesting style. Actually it is quite difficult to judge upon this what to say at such time.

So, with me not being mechanically inclined, exactly what is that first object on the back of Blanchard's stone?

I'm thinking that's the lathe that can turn irregular shapes, Angela, but don't swear by it. That's the point. Who can tell?

Hodge, thank you for the addendum on Everett. A humble man, beneath all the engraved resumes and pontifical bluster? Or just someone who knew when he'd been truly shown up?

Good one, Murr. I'm going to be really mad when they make me leave, too.

Penny Auction Bidding, I'm going to leave your comment because it makes me laugh. But don't make a habit of it, my spammy friend.

Of course, the best thing about being buried at Mt.Auburn is knowing you'll be visited by birders(meaning:stood on while they spot warblers) for all eternity...and of course, the landscaping is awesome.

My inlaws family chose a cemetery that has no headstones, just flat plaques on the ground with only enough room for name, dob/dod, and perhaps a line like 'Beloved Father'. The idea was to make it more like a 'park'. I don't get it. I *like* cemeteries, always have, always will. My family always wandered around old graveyards reading inscriptions and wondering. I told my husband I don't want to be buried there with them (and don't get me wrong, I like my inlaws very much). I just don't like their cemetery. I want a honkin' big headstone with all kinds of wondrous stuff carved in it.

(Where we go on vacation in Maine, there is an old cemetery back on a dirt road, in the middle of the woods. The town was there before the railroad came through and they moved the entire town. Still some wells and foundations there, along with lilacs and apple trees to show where houses were. And in the cemetary is buried my great-great grandfather and HIS grandfather. So neat to take my kids to see that.) They carved the deceased's names in years, months and days back then.

Posted by holly-the-person January 12, 2011 at 9:57 AM

I'm right with you, Holly. You know what that flat plaque deal is all about? Maintenance. Mowing. Much, much cheaper to take a huge mower deck whizzing right over the plaques than to employ teenage boys to weedwhack around each stone. It's the Wal-Martization of cemeteries. And like you, I object.

I wish you a honkin' big stone with fabulous carvings, a stone to make people stop, linger, and wonder.

Hi julie have enjoyed your adventure thru Mt Auburn cemetery. The gravestone of Edward Everett is quite historical. He was the featured speaker (spoke 2 hours) before president Lincoln at Gettysburg. President Lincoln always felt his "few insignificant words" paled in comparison to Everett's. You probably already know all of this. Keep blogging Bill Ringer

Posted by kramer bill January 13, 2011 at 1:24 PM

Mr Tebbetts was a cousin.

Posted by Barry Swift September 12, 2015 at 9:55 PM
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