Monthly Archives: October 2009

One for the genealogists

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Halloween is fun.

Between trick or treating, anticipating unique costumes (I once saw someone dressed as a flower pot), house decorations, long-suffering pets in cute getups and children double-whammied by excitement and sugar highs, what’s not to like?

And while I don’t write about ghosts or vampires, this year will be a little different as I’d like to quote a funny anecdote. It comes from one of the most helpful reference books on my shelf; Sharon DeBartolo Carmack’s, Your Guide to Cemetery Research.

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Zombies In The Cemetery Continue reading

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Mount Pleasant memories

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Writers and artists have somehow always known cemeteries are a place of inspiration. Seattle-based writer Stacy Carlson, author of Among The Wonderful, shares her particular credo about Mount Pleasant.

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There’s a blue-green house shaped like a barn on West Bothwell Street that’s half a block from a T-intersection.

It’s a T because instead of another block of tidy houses, the Mount Pleasant Cemetery breaks the grid with its amoeba-shaped expanse. I don’t know exactly how big, or how old the cemetery is. I don’t know anybody buried there. But if it weren’t for Mount Pleasant, half a block from the house where I grew up, I never would have started writing fiction.

My friend Shannon and I roller-skated all over our neighborhood. We started out in the alley behind Shannon’s house. We didn’t try to learn how to skate backwards or do any fancy twirls. We went for speed.

Starting at one end of the alley, we simply raced each other to the other end and most of the time, Shannon won. But the pavement in that alley was a rough grade, and we dodged jagged potholes, giant cracks and more than once ripped up our knees, elbows, and faces. After a while we moved to a patch of smooth cement on a quiet street a couple of blocks from my house.

It was a short-lived victory: one night coming home from work my dad spotted us skittering out of the way of his car. We were banished from the streets. Continue reading

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Snapshots: World War I Tank Corps

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Fascinating discoveries can be found on military headstones. While detailed research is warranted for an individual’s personal story, googling the regiment or a subject like tank history, often turns up some unique items.

George E. Stober

George E. Stober: Sgt 319th Company Tank Corps

The WWI trench warfare stalemates probably did more to develop the idea of tanks from drawing board to reality than anything else. In a nutshell, the tank was intended to bring the firepower of artillery and machine guns across the morass of No Man’s Land while providing more protection than a purely infantry unit could carry

However, the drawbacks could be significant. Traveling only at about walking pace and vulnerable to direct artillery hits, the interior of the tank was also heavily contaminated with carbon monoxide and other fumes from the weapons. Additionally, internal temperatures could reach 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

It wasn’t until 1917 whan General Pershing finally requested that 600 heavy and 1,200 light tanks be produced in the United States. A total of eight heavy battalions (the 301st to 308th) and 21 light battalions (the 326th to 346th) were raised, but only four (the 301st, 331st, 344th and 345th) saw combat.

Below is some World War I tank footage:

 

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Snapshots: Mysterious family crests

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Below is an unfamiliar carving that looks very much like a Finnish family crest. It was found on a Woodmen of the World headstone dedicated to David Lunden, born 1875 in Finland. Lunden later emigrated to the US to find work in the Black Diamond coal mines.

unknown fraternal organization

On November 6, 1910, an explosion rocked the Lawson Mine, causing a slope cave in. Sixteen miners were killed that day, including Lunden who was working as a fire boss. Records show that most of the miners earned less than $4/day for their work.

Blog post_Lunden crest

 

 

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Decoding the kanji stones

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Japanese kanji-style stones

Japanese kanji inscriptions

 

In the September 24th posting on Weathering, vandalism & maintenance, I wrote about some cleaning options that could be useful for most cemeteries, with the exception of Auburn Pioneer. In this particular site, the lichen and moss add a unique Buddhist zen aesthetic to the delicate cement markers. Rather than destroy both the marker and the writings, the caretakers would prefer finding someone to copy the old kanji inscriptions for translation before it disappears forever. 

Kristy Lommen, one of the webmasters for the Auburn Pioneer cemetery website, is working with a Japanese translator on doing just that. She discusses the challenges and progress further in her guest post below. Continue reading

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Stones & Bones presentation schedule

The following dates and locations have been scheduled for Stones & Bones: Discovering secrets in King County’s oldest cemeteries.  All events are free and open to the public.

Date:                     October 16, 2009
Time:                    11.00am – 1.00pm
Location              Bellevue Regional Library

Date:                   October 18, 2009
Time:                   3.00pm to 4.30pm
Location:           4326 – 337th Pl SE, Fall City
With:                   Fall City Historical Society &  general public

Date:                     October 31, 2009
Time:                    10.30am – 12.00pm
Location:            Seattle Public Library, Main Location, Microsoft Auditorium
 This event will be hosted by the Seattle Public Library’s Special Collection

Date:                     November 5, 2009
Time:                    4.00pm – 5.30pm
Location:            13020 Newcastle Way, Newcastle, WA‎
With:                    Newcastle Historical Society & general public

Events are sponsored in part by 4Culture, Allied Arts Foundation & Seattle Public Library Special Collections

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