Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tombstone Faces

So here’s a creepy idea for Halloween – “Tombstone Faces!” Cemeteries can be uncomfortable places for many people, and when you’re in one by yourself and you come upon something like the scene at left, well, it can be downright unnerving. This fellow was in a century-old neglected graveyard in Camden, New Jersey. It’s origin? A stone fence post for a family plot. There’s always an explanation ....

Even His Headstone Cried
Or is there? Sometimes, the stones themselves seem to take on uncannily human features. With the bird droppings on this stone above, the “face” actually appears to be crying. This may be its reaction to the Christ Church Burial Ground people in Philadelphia charging ADMISSION to this Revolutionary War-era graveyard near Independence Hall. I’m going to guess the “eyes” you see were a result of fasteners that once held a plaque of some sort.

Cemetery face, Baltimore National Cemetery

Cemeteries usually put on their best face for the public, but what if the “face” is actually a cleverly rendered likeness within a statue? In this Civil War monument in Baltimore (photo above), I did not notice the face beneath the fallen soldier’s head (the pillow or headrest) until many weeks after my visit. Was the “face” intentionally carved as part of the marble sculpture? I was looking at my printed photograph weeks after my visit when I saw the face (yes, children, I made this image back when us old-timers used something called “film”). Is the “face” actually supposed to be there, or is it just a trick of shadows? Perhaps it is the result of acid rain on marble?

Another such occurrence was this statue I found in the Italian Club Cemetery in Ybor City, near Tampa, Florida. The child figure was small, maybe sixteen inches high. I did not see the large face at the time I made the photograph at right (this image was quite digital, thank you), as I was concentrating on the child's face. So is that an intentionally-carved weirdly happy monster face posing as the pedestal in the scene? You tell me.

Walter Matthau from www.fanpop.com

Then there are the eroded faces like the one you see above (the stone carving at left, I mean). Perhaps they were once something attractive. A hundred or more years later, they become what we humans become after we have shuffled off this mortal coil – shriveled, distorted shades of our former selves. I’m thinking this old gnarly Walter Matthau-like face (at left) was once that of a sweet youthful cherub. We all age; everything ages – even the graveyards and gravestones that mark our passing.

"The Scream!"