|Mount Vernon Cemetery, Philadelphia|
|Resurfaced Texas Cemetery|
|Philadelphia's Mt. Moriah Cemetery|
But I seem to be getting off track here. I apologize. My narrative may become more linear as the effects of whatever medication I ingested last night wears off. The Native American community calls our Thanksgiving Day their “National Day of Mourning,” the day they mourn the genocide of their ancestors and the theft of their land. This largely fabricated holiday of ours is a prime example of history re-written to make us feel better about ourselves. Kind of reminds me of the following story.
|Franklin Cemetery, c. 1940|
"I'm telling you, in this day and age,The dead people aren't even safe.. . . Everyone's out for that almighty dollar.Now only if the dead could holler."
|Discarded tombstones along Delaware River|
Though they seem to be in the limelight right now (with many neighborhood efforts to clean them up and restore them), abandoned graveyards are not a modern issue, a contemporary conundrum. The Hanover photo at top was taken around 1922! By then, the Hanover Street Burial Ground in Philadelphia’s Fish town neighborhood had long been abandoned (it was about 117 years old). (My thanks to Ken Milano for allowing me to use the image from his superb book, Palmer Cemetery and the Historic Burial Grounds of Kensington and Fishtown). Capitola Playground in South Philly and Johnson Cemetery Park (I swear this is really what it’s called, see blog) in Camden Jew Jersey were both originally forgotten cemeteries landscaped over to become neighborhood parks.
As I watch a scavenger outside my kitchen window pick through my trash, I’m taken by its parallel to my interest in abandoned cemeteries. I feel like I’m picking through things other people no longer want. Looking for something that interests me, never really knowing what I might find. The more we educate ourselves about cemeteries, the more can we learn about ourselves – information is preservation. Preserving memory is supposed to be what cemeteries are all about, isn’t it? Well, maybe there are some things we’d just rather not be reminded of.
New Jersey: Abandoned Cemetery...or just Repurposed?
Philadelphia Graveyards and Cemeteries by Tom Keels