Thursday, August 27, 2009
To tell you the truth I never even realized how big Spring Grove. On my previous trips, I saw it as a one lane road leading to the visited grave. Walking around let me know just how big this place is and how much it has to offer. Because of my business state of mind, I didn't allow myself to admire the greenery and scenery. I saw enormous monuments that I will never forget. Whether it was the huge Dexter mausoleum or the one and only Charles West. You just don't realize how small and insignificant you are when you are apart of something this big. It really is just amazing.
This experience also made me think about my own life and death. Sometimes I just get so caught up on what is going on around me I forget to stop and smell the roses. I feel like I am on the ideal path for my life right now but what does it really matter if you cant dissect and appreciate the journey. This place has helped me relax. I am usually a manic over analytical person and I have lost my laid back nature. Spring Grove brought it back. Also, when I see people who have died much younger than I, it helps me realize that I need to live every day to the fullest. As far as death, it made me question how I would like to be remembered. I used to say that I wanted to be cremated, with my ashes in the possession of no one. I have come to the realization that this may be selfish.
The reason I feel like I shouldn't be cremated, with my ashes spread over Old Trafford, is because cemeteries are for the living. What kind of man would I be if I took the right for my loved ones to visit me away from them. Everyone grieves differently and this must be respected. I though of a burial of a traditional easy way out (for me personally) but now I almost find it necessary for the family to have this place. The cemetery is a place for the mourners to reflect on the life of their loved one and bring closure to any unsettling feelings they may have. It is a way to honor the person and remember that they once played a strong role in your life as well.
This course has also helped me become an explorer all over again. Do you remember when you were a child? Not only did you ask a barrage of questioning about everything but you went to find out for yourself. Though I didn't have a strong interest in cemeteries before this class, but it has allowed me to appreciate my new found knowledge. Whether it be a new sport or a small city, this class has let me know that I need to go beyond Wikipedia and find these things out myself. The Spring Grove website just cant justify the things you see and feel when you are actually walking around.
I know my reflections and thoughts have been awfully corny but Spring Grove brings the cliches right out of you. This place has allowed me to ave much more respect for cemeteries as a whole. Now when I walk into a cemetery, even if it is my family's dinky lot, a strong feeling of history and culture whooshes over my body. They are awfully heavy places. It's almost like you have thousands of people standing in front of you with an autobiography in hand. I have a greater appreciation for symbols which I would normally overlook and I have a better sense of unit. This group of people will forever have a bond which few can share. How many folks can say they took a class at one of the biggest U.S. cemeteries and may even be able to give a tour (a brief one of course). This is an experience I will never forget. I definitely wouldn't mind dying in Cincinnati!
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
2 ounces Bourbon (Elijah Craig 12 yr)
1/2 ounce orange curaçao (Harlequin)
1/4 ounce simple syrup
stir over ice, strain into cocktail glass
garnish with lemon twist and slice of orange
Saturday, August 8, 2009
It's chapels like this that make you want to become an art history major. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor due to my sheer amazement for this hidden gem. Each week I go into the cemetery telling myself that I have seen it all. Then there was Norman Chapel. As soon as we all walked in, I knew I was in the presence of greatness. I know it all may sound a little cheesy but as I looked around this beautiful piece of architecture I visualized the 19th century stone carvers each putting their own twist on the Chapel. The intricate patterns of the arches and pillars were truly breathtaking. We all think of conventional professions but looking at these makes you appreciate the guy behind the scenes. Structures like this are usually appreciated as a whole but after doing some investigative work you come to admire the small details. Another thing I really liked was the stained glass window displaying the ascension of Christ. It seems like when the sun hits it in the right place, it would be an even more beautiful sight. All in all, I really enjoyed Norman Chapel and plan on adding it to my list of must-sees at Spring Grove.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Originally I considered exploring Oak Hill Cemetery in Glendale. That was until I realized that it was a subsidiary of Spring Grove. I remembered this small cemetery in Springfield Township that I used to drive by almost every day. I didn't know the name of it nor had I ever walked the grounds. When I arrived, it was a like a whole new world. A much smaller and more dreary world compared to the monstrous Spring Grove. The cemetery was in such a tarnished state. Headstones were knocked over. Buildings were falling apart. The grass was uncut. Graves were sunk in. It was nearly a polar opposite of the cemetery I have come to know and love over the past five weeks. The latest burial date I discovered was 2005 which lead me to believe that the cemetery is still up and running. That was until I did a further investigation. This cemetery is a ghost town. I came to realize that this place has become a stain on the Springfield Township community. State law requires them to take over the abandoned cemetery (previously owned by Bethel AME Church in Lockland). The cemetery is currently in foreclosure and Springfield Township is in the process of transferring ownership. Once the township transfers the ownership, they will assume all maintenance duties. I saw a photo article showing a Boy Scout troop leveling some of the headstones. I found another article stating that a purchased burial plot had been filled with someone else's remains. This place currently owes Key Bank $42,000. The township currently has $5,ooo in their general budget allotted for the cemetery so it should be in better shape at year's end.
Some interesting facts:
- Latest burial in 2005 (91 year old AF pilot from WWII)
- 3 colored troops from the Civil War buried here (1 of 3 cemeteries in the city to do so)
- Another article about foul play at the cemetery http://www.enquirer.com/editions/1999/03/03/loc_mother_mislaid_to.html
Monday, August 3, 2009
After spending four weeks in Spring Grove I was beginning to forget the fact that bodies are still being buried there today. I got so used to seeing burials dating before 195o. I enjoyed the tram tour not only because it agreed with my laziness but also because of the newer architecture. Sometimes I forget I'm in a cemetery and instead feel like it's a Disney themed park. I really enjoyed being able to see a lot of the cemetery in such a short amount of time. The newer sections were unlike the old in the sense that the hills and space were a lot more open. It leads me to believe that they reduced plot sizes after more and more people were asking to be buried at Spring Grove. This exploration of Spring Grove is something that I would never think to do on my own time but I'm grateful to investigate one of the precious gems of the city.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
George Wambsgans originally came to the US from Germany in the early 19th century as a boy. There isn't much information about him or the family but on record there were only 22 people with the last name Wambsgans to come to the US from Germany (while there still remains a community full of them in Germany). George died in 1875 of consumption (also known as tuberculosis). One of the most notable symbols on Mr. Wambsgans monument is the angel holding the palm. Usually angels are used in order symbolize protection or guardianship. They also stand for dignity, honor, and glory. The palm branch usually stands for victory justice and honor. However an angel holding a palm branch in their hand stands for the reward of the righteous. Mr. Wambsgans was probably a proud man who played life by the rules (or at least with a sense of dignity). The second example of symbolism is the cross, anchor, and heart. These three items together is the symbol for faith, hope, and charity. This leads me to beleive that Mr. Wambsgans was a man of faith. The angel and the cross alone display this. The third symbol, which I was originally unaware of, is the poppy close to the top of the monument. The use of poppies originates from Greco-Roman myths. The symbolism not only comes from the scarlet red colour but also the usage of poppy. The color represents the promise of resurrection after death and the poppy iself represents eternal sleep (because of the opium extracted from them). The last symbol is that of the celtic cross lying at the very top of the monument like a christmas tree angel. The celtic cross used to mark the graves of preists prior to the 19th century but now they are everywhere around the cemetery. It is now seen as a powerful symbol of faith and heritage. Though I could'nt find much information on Mr. Wambsgans it seems like he lived a full and prideful life. It just goes to show that not only are there countless symbols in the cemetery, but millions of life stories.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
2. Who are the Lunkens?
3. Why are some of the tombstones in the shape of a bench?
4. How is it that newer plots are mixed in with very old ones?
5. Why are their fences with ivy over some graves?
6. Is the sculpture next to John William Becker (architect) one of his works?
7. Why is their only one date on certain tombstones?
8. Who pays for the upkeep of the cemetery?
9. What is the significance of the trees on the Rettig tombstone?
10. What’s the reasoning behind the grape wraths? (Johnston)
11. Can people have mausoleums constructed before they die?
12. How much is a family plot?
13. Is it pricier to be in the back?
14. Why are the cemetery roads so curvy?
15. Why put down blank tombstones?
16. How much is the average tombstone/headstone?
17. Do some individuals asked to be buried under trees? (Ida Nave)
18. Why is there a snake wrapped around a tree/fish on one of the headstones?
19. Why are the tombstones facing in all different directions (Sec. 116)
20. How many people are currently buried at Spring Grove?
21. Who came up with the name Spring Grove?
22. How many people are buried here annually (on average)?
23. How many different plant-life forms occupy Spring Grove?
24. How many acres total is Spring Grove?
25. What are the security procedures for the grounds?
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Throughout my studies I have come to learn that Americans have the vanilla treatment when it comes to their dead. Some Aborigines leave bodies in the treetops. In some parts of
As a child, I was taught an old Southern legend of the haints. The haints were basically another name for ghosts in the black community (in the south). Most of my family on both sides is buried behind the old family houses, while some are buried in cemeteries with their own plots. As a kid, when I spent the night at my Great Uncle’s house, there was a cemetery in his backyard. There were sounds from owls and other animals rustling through the leaves. After I was told about the haints, I wouldn’t go outside at night. I had the general child’s feeling of “the cemetery is haunted with the ghosts of the dead” (too many scary movies). My sister furthered my fright and suspicion by making noises in the next room and running out in the hallway, where she would greet me with a convincing “what’s wrong with you?” From that point on and after my uncle passed, I have slowly transformed into a harsh realist.
Nowadays, when I think of or go to a cemetery I am completely unafraid. I know that there is no such thing as ghosts and that everyone buried there is nothing but a rotted corpse (except for the occasional creepy gravedigger). I do however face a feeling of sadness. I am sad for the ones who have passed and the loved ones who had to bury them. I think about the times I have gone to funerals and all of the collective grief hanging over the environment like a black cloud. That was someone’s mother. That was someone’s sister. That could have been someone’s child. I maintain a sense of tunnel vision as I travel to the gates in order to minimize my sadness. I go straight to the person/people who I came to see and then I leave. There is no looking around at all the cool headstones. There are no brisk peaceful walks because of the chilling silence. All of that occurred when you were trying to avoid the person being buried right in front of you. So I guess, I think of the cemetery as a place of grief, sadness, and pain. I don’t associate it with scary things. I don’t overstay my welcome. I pay my respects to the dead and I leave.