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Sunday, October 21, 2012

An Ode to Green-Wood

I love cemeteries, especially the old ones. We have lots of old small family and church graveyards in New England. So sad to read the tombstones and see whole families of children buried one after another from a single sickness that would kill so many. And in the 19th and early 20th century, the beautiful and meaningful sculptures atop a grave or outside a private mausoleum in the grand new cemeteries of the time.

My family is mostly buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. It's the graveyard I grew up going to, and where I reference what a Victorian cemetery is supposed to look like. The statues spooked me- great weeping angels, goddesses and gods overlook NY harbor, some classical statues reproduced on private graves, even a pyramid complete with sphinxes. There's one of a young bride, the aisle she'd have walked down now her gravebed, very near my family's plot. I don't remember her name, but I remember the eyes on the statue of her. I looked up at her as a child, eye-to-eye as a young teen, and then down to her as an adult, realizing what a small woman she must've been. 

Over the decades, now centuries, tales of haunts at Green-Wood, of Satanists meeting there, of supernatural happenings and ghosts even in broad daylight, attracted many to the historic site. Some vandalism went on in the 1970s and 80s, but that seems to have stopped. It still attracts tourists and ghosthunters. With family laid to rest there it will always be part of my life and I love it. 

The Green-Wood caretaker talks about his job
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ROiM4p5-p8

Spoon River Anthology about Green-Wood
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGZCSWGYl3o

A very pretty seasonal day tour that is hosted by an oddly theatrical character
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVi-uLAjsj8

Green-Wood is open to visitors. You can see their schedule of events and tours at
http://www.green-wood.com/

10 comments:

The Elephant's Child said...

I am a fan of old cemetaries myself. I find myself appalled at how many families lost so many so young. Perhaps it is just as well that families were much larger than I am comfortable with now. They may have needed that number to virtually ensure that the line went on.
My parents ashes are spread in the rose garden at the local crematorium. My father was an intensely practical man and it would have been what he wanted. My mother joined him again some years later.

Geo. said...

Some excellent and informative vids. I didn't know about this place.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

What a glorious place. I watched all three videos. Let's hope they never have the vandalism problem again.

Austan said...

EC- Your comment reminds me of Rose Kennedy. Sometime after RFK was shot, she said people had criticised her for having so many children, but if she hadn't, she'd have no sons left. Half of her children died before her. Half of my father's siblings died in infancy. It was just a fact of life that you'd probably bury many of your children. How sad.

Austan said...

Geo.- glad you liked em!

Austan said...

Lawless- I knew you'd like them!

Pearl said...

I become emotional in cemetaries, having spent so much of my childhood in them. They strike me as lonely places, and I can handle anything but the thought of someone lonely...

Pearl

Austan said...

aw, Pearl, you've got such a big heart. Bless.

John Gray said...

we live right next to an old graveyard.... the nicest and most peaceful house I have ever owned

Austan said...

Hi John, I nearly bought a house next to the graveyard. They make great neighbors. And they don't leave.