texas cemeteries

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Van Alstyne Cemetery. Van Alstyne, Texas. Fall 2016.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Cemeteries around Texas. A LOT of time. I’ve occasionally seen pictures of the deceased included on the headstone, but this is the first actual Post Mortem baby photograph that I’ve come across. 

By the late 1800′s photography was becoming more and more common and popular, however it was still enough of a luxury that most individual families didn’t own their own camera. For this reason, there were occasions when someone would die before there was a convenient opportunity to have them photographed. This was particularly true of children. 

When this happened, families found themselves with no photographs to remember the departed by… Their solution to this problem was to have the deceased person photographed before burial. In this instance, poor little James Lucas passed away when just over a year old in 1898. The parents had his photo taken and transferred to a china/ceramic disk afixed to the front of the headstone. 

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Cemetery Oak by Mike Schaffner

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@claudeiloux okay so this is officially my new favorite place! It’s Oakwood Cemetery in downtown Austin. You can actually see the capital building from here (idk why I didn’t take a picture of that) lol. My favorite was the headless guy and the tombstone that has my initials. It was even better that it was a perfectly gloomy day ⚰️💀 it has really old historical people buried here. I freaking love mausoleums!

In October 1867, a man was found wandering a yard. He was incoherent and very sick. He never was able to tell anyone who he was. He died October 4, 1867 and was buried in the Ladonia Cemetery in Texas. 

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Angel in Bluebonnets by Andreanna Moya

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Trying out the new super wide lens I got for Christmas. I guess the natural tendency is to find giant, sweeping panoramas to shoot with a lens like this. But I I like the interesting perspective it lends when you instead try to get as close as possible to really big things to take the shot.  (click the pic for the full effect) 

My wife and I traditionally visit departed family at a few local cemeteries at Christmas. The Chapel is at Brookside Cemetery in Houston. I was standing so close I could almost touch the shrubbery.

And of course the other shot is the VA cemetery in Houston, which is always impressive but more so at Christmas. Again, standing almost on top of the marker up front, center. 

Texas Landscape / Memento Mori

Texas is a blessed land. I value Texas, and I like it. All these surprise water holes and rivers, cemeteries looking like souvenir shops and vice versa, deer on the streets of small towns, and numerous marvels and miracles.

An uninvited visitor of a cemetery, I am a museum’s rightful observer, but at once a curio-seeking subject breaching the privacy of a family boudoir. I am both deeply moved and perfectly indifferent. Unapologetically alive. Cemetery is a library with stone covers and stories that you have to invent yourself, with very little prompts–very little but just enough.

I was laughing today over the grave of a one-day child, laughing in horror of myself: the laughter emerged as a strange expression of the alleviation to learn that the baby was born in 1932. Both parents must be dead by now, there is no living being wrestling with this concrete, impossible, having a name, grief. Pure history. The baby was free to drift further and further away, into nonexistence. No one was wrenching her out of nonentity any more with their forever broken beyond repair hearts.

It was a custom of the community to bring toys to kids’ graves. Between angels, stuffed bears, and toy cars, a ceramic figure of a clown sat on an anonymous grave, like a strange overgrown mushroom.

The clown stared into the space in front of him (in front of it?) with eyes which lost their pupils to the years-long exposure to the sun and rain. What was conceived as a cute object, a tribute to unfulfilled memories, originally as a garden adornment, perhaps, become a statue of mourning strangely expressive in its supreme muteness, in its acquired blindness, in the irreparability of its discoloration.

It was a mute object, which had an air of finality to it. Fear-inducing even, perchance; one imagines that into such exact innocuous clowns, leprechauns were moving in, like hermit crabs into shell.

Evil spirits would mobilize such destitute objects as their possible bodies, dreadful tools, inhaling mobility in them, instilling a breath of a kind, life of sorts–is it not fearsome? I shivered looking. The thing served as an expression of despair. In whose thought a clown was to appear a befitting allegory of grief? Not sooner I was able to detach myself from looking at it, than several long minutes past. It is there now, this very moment, and would persevere in its thereness, soaking under rains, bleached by the merciless Texas sun, a sign of the mourning which lasts until one’s own death.