Author Topic: Remembering When Americans Picnicked in Cemeteries  (Read 633 times)

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Offline RaphaCam

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Remembering When Americans Picnicked in Cemeteries
« on: April 23, 2018, 10:06:14 PM »
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WITHIN THE IRON-WROUGHT WALLS OF American cemeteries—beneath the shade of oak trees and tombs’ stoic penumbras—you could say many people “rest in peace.” However, not so long ago, people of the still-breathing sort gathered in graveyards to rest, and dine, in peace.

During the 19th century, and especially in its later years, snacking in cemeteries happened across the United States. It wasn’t just apple-munching alongside the winding avenues of graveyards. Since many municipalities still lacked proper recreational areas, many people had full-blown picnics in their local cemeteries. The tombstone-laden fields were the closest things, then, to modern-day public parks.

In Dayton, Ohio, for instance, Victorian-era women wielded parasols as they promenaded through mass assemblages at Woodland Cemetery, en route to luncheon on their family lots. Meanwhile, New Yorkers strolled through Saint Paul’s Churchyard in Lower Manhattan, bearing baskets filled with fruits, ginger snaps, and beef sandwiches. [...]

In some parts of the country, such as Denver, the congregations of grave picnickers grew to such numbers that police intervention was even considered. The cemeteries were becoming littered with garbage, which was seen as an affront to their sanctity. In one report about these messy gatherings, the author wrote, “thousands strew the grounds with sardine cans, beer bottles, and lunch boxes.”

Though the macabre picnics were considered “nuisances” in some communities, they did give participants a sort of admired air. One reporter lauded the fact that the picnickers looked “happy under discouraging circumstances,” and even said it was a trait “worthy of cultivation.” [...]

But the fad isn’t entirely dead in the United States. The country’s immigrant population includes families carrying on traditions that call for meals with departed loved ones, and cemeteries will hold occasional public events in the spirit of this era. There are still scattered graveyards where you can picnic among tombstones, too, particularly if you know someone with a sizable family lot. In those cases, all you need is a picnic basket filled with treats, and you and your undaunted party can partake in an old American tradition. Just remember to clean up after yourselves. The penalties for doing otherwise may be grave.

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/picnic-in-cemeteries-america

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Offline Volnutt

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Re: Remembering When Americans Picnicked in Cemeteries
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2018, 10:27:38 PM »
My only issue with that is that it could be hard for someone to leave flowers on their mom's grave on the anniversary of her death when there's people making merry just a couple of plots away. So, I hope they would at least observe some decorum.
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Offline Sharbel

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Re: Remembering When Americans Picnicked in Cemeteries
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2018, 10:51:08 PM »
With such long faces, it's hard to tell whether they're making merry or glum.
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: Remembering When Americans Picnicked in Cemeteries
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2018, 10:57:54 PM »
With such long faces, it's hard to tell whether they're making merry or glum.

True.
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

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Re: Remembering When Americans Picnicked in Cemeteries
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2018, 08:17:43 AM »
With such long faces, it's hard to tell whether they're making merry or glum.

Protestants can't even do Dia de los Muertos right.
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Offline Agabus

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Re: Remembering When Americans Picnicked in Cemeteries
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2018, 10:30:46 AM »
I used to live in a city with a historic cemetery dating to colonial times. It was a beautiful necropolis, and a big tourist draw in a city that thrived on tourism dollars. I would go there sometimes when I needed a moment to think. The cemetery association had a posted sign, however, that banned picnicing.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2018, 10:31:00 AM by Agabus »
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Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Remembering When Americans Picnicked in Cemeteries
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2018, 07:52:21 PM »
I used to live in a city with a historic cemetery dating to colonial times. It was a beautiful necropolis, and a big tourist draw in a city that thrived on tourism dollars. I would go there sometimes when I needed a moment to think. The cemetery association had a posted sign, however, that banned picnicing.
I live in a few steps from a historic necropolis too. It's a very beautiful view, totally available in Google Maps. Just look for "São João Batista Cemetery, Rio de Janeiro" if you're curious and you can stroll through the whole thing.
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Offline Ainnir

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Re: Remembering When Americans Picnicked in Cemeteries
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2018, 08:35:37 PM »
I live in a few steps from a historic necropolis too. It's a very beautiful view, totally available in Google Maps. Just look for "São João Batista Cemetery, Rio de Janeiro" if you're curious and you can stroll through the whole thing.

I wonder if that would work with a VR headset...   :o

edit: Something that's incredibly foreign to me is taking care of relatives' graves.  I've never seen it done, as any relative of mine that's been buried has been buried hundreds of miles away.  Odd musing for the day.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2018, 08:45:20 PM by Ainnir »
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Offline JTLoganville

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Re: Remembering When Americans Picnicked in Cemeteries
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2018, 09:35:52 PM »
edit: Something that's incredibly foreign to me is taking care of relatives' graves.  I've never seen it done, as any relative of mine that's been buried has been buried hundreds of miles away.  Odd musing for the day.

There was a not-too-distant time when many church-owned cemeteries in the US required the relatives/descendants to maintain their own family plot, unless they had paid sufficient money to the cemetery to assure "perpetual care" by the cemetery's hired caretaker.

I am told that there were some folks who--perhaps by poverty, perhaps by miserliness--did not want to pay for "perpetual care" and so every couple of weeks loaded up a lawn mower into the car to go mow the family plot.

Now just because a cemetery offers "perpetual care" does not guarantee that the plot will indeed be well maintained.   This discussion reminds me that I really should load up a clipper, trowel, and a couple of bags and clear away the grass encroaching on the flush monuments of my parental family's plot in a commercial cemetery owned by--note the irony--Dignity International.

Offline Volnutt

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Re: Remembering When Americans Picnicked in Cemeteries
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2018, 10:08:25 PM »
I live in a few steps from a historic necropolis too. It's a very beautiful view, totally available in Google Maps. Just look for "São João Batista Cemetery, Rio de Janeiro" if you're curious and you can stroll through the whole thing.

I wonder if that would work with a VR headset...   :o

edit: Something that's incredibly foreign to me is taking care of relatives' graves.  I've never seen it done, as any relative of mine that's been buried has been buried hundreds of miles away.  Odd musing for the day.

It's almost like a holdover from the days of Ancient Roman filial piety.
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Remembering When Americans Picnicked in Cemeteries
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2018, 08:02:31 AM »
There are some Google Maps driving simulators one could apply to the necropolis, this might be an interesting experience with the right song.  :P

BTW, could one imagine a better view to rest after wearing the wooden jacket (to use a local expression)?
« Last Edit: April 28, 2018, 08:05:05 AM by RaphaCam »
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: Remembering When Americans Picnicked in Cemeteries
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2018, 09:19:46 AM »
Are the graves clustered together like that because of space premiums (which is the reason Japanese cemeteries are that way IIRC) or is it because of something else? I seem to recall there's a Santiago cemetery that looks similar.
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Remembering When Americans Picnicked in Cemeteries
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2018, 10:50:20 AM »
Are the graves clustered together like that because of space premiums (which is the reason Japanese cemeteries are that way IIRC) or is it because of something else? I seem to recall there's a Santiago cemetery that looks similar.
IDK, every cemitery I've seen is clustered like that, both rich and poor, urban and semi-rural. Maybe we just don't care.
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Offline Sharbel

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Re: Remembering When Americans Picnicked in Cemeteries
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2018, 02:20:29 AM »
Are the graves clustered together like that because of space premiums (which is the reason Japanese cemeteries are that way IIRC) or is it because of something else? I seem to recall there's a Santiago cemetery that looks similar.
The neighbors are pretty quiet.
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Offline Sharbel

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Re: Remembering When Americans Picnicked in Cemeteries
« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2018, 02:22:38 AM »
Protestants can't even do Dia de los Muertos right.
Or heaven right: https://youtu.be/-4IletJ7-Tw
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