Stones With a Story

Bollinger County Memorial Park 11-11-2013I love roaming around in cemeteries. It’s a good way to get a feel for communities: how old they are; who the prominent families are; when epidemics swept through… Most tombstones are pretty ordinary: birth date, death date and a standard inscription.

Sometimes, though, you stumble across stones with personality. This beautiful shoe in Bollinger County Memorial Park caught my eye from five rows away. I just had to see what that was all about. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)

Husband: “I Made It”

Bollinger County Memorial Park 11-11-2013It turned out to be a pair of tombstones side by side for Roger Elmer Damlow and Wilma Lee Damlow. His stone has the symbol of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America on it.

At the bottom is the inscription, “I MADE IT,” which you would think appropriate for a craftsman.

Wife: “I spent it”

Bollinger County Memorial Park 11-11-2013His wife’s stone, though, gives his phrase a different spin. “I SPENT IT,” it proclaims. Her stone is decorated with logos for designer products. (I have to wonder if those companies will go after her for trademark infringement or if they will be flattered to be remembered that way?)

Since neither of the stones has a death date on it, the couple is probably still alive and could tell the story behind the stones, but I’d rather speculate.

Penny Lou Klingel

Klingel grave - Lightner & St Joseph Cemtery Scott City 11-08-2013Penny Lou Klingel’s marker in Scott City’s Lightner & St. Joseph Cemetery was strikingly unusual from the front. I spotted its shape from a distance, grabbed a telephoto lens to get a closer look, then had to walk up to see what the back looked like.

“Later, Dummies”

Klingel grave - Lightner & St Joseph Cemtery Scott City 11-08-2013

It was worth the walk. The back side of the stone that had the kicker: “Later, Dummies.”

I can only guess that was one of her favorite sayings.

Here is a link to a set of tombstones I found in Athens, Ohio, this summer. One was heartrending; the other had a touch of whimsy.

 

 

Sharing with Dad

I’m blessed this Thanksgiving season that I have a great family, including Mother, who turned 91 in October and still has a zest for life.

I never come to Cape without making at least one swing through New Lorimier Cemetery where Dad is buried. One thing I’ve missed over the years is the opportunity to share with him some of the stories I’ve covered and the fascinating people I’ve met. I never went into much detail, but it was nice to know that there was someone out there who wanted to live vicariously through my war stories.

A few trips back, I decided to keep sharing what I’m doing in what might sound like an unusual way. After I shot the train squishing coins on the tracks in Wittenberg, I left a railroad spike and a smashed quarter on his tombstone. The spike is now driven into the dirt at the base of it, and I retrieved the quarter to give to Brother Mark.

The blue tile came from Cairo

This time I left behind a blue piece of tile that used to be the floor of a building in Cairo. If I don’t come up with something more interesting, on my next trip back home I’ll leave some stone slivers I found on the ground at the base of a wall around the Fourche a du Clos Valley Roadside Park near Bloomsdale.

It’s not very conventional, but it works for me. And, I have a pretty good idea that it works for him, too.

In case you were wondering

In case you were wondering what those three objects are in the circles on his stone, Dad was active in Boy Scouting and Order of the Arrow. The carving on the lower left represents the Silver Beaver, “the council-level distinguished service award of the Boy Scouts of America. Recipients of this award are registered adult leaders who have made an impact on the lives of youth through service given to the council. The Silver Beaver is an award given to those who implement the Scouting program and perform community service through hard work, self sacrifice, dedication, and many years of service. It is given to those who do not actively seek it.”

The object on the right is the Order of the Arrow’s Vigil Honor, “the highest honor that the Order of the Arrow can bestow upon its members for service to lodge, council, and Scouting.” They meant a great deal to him.

You can click on the photos to make them larger.

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.