Back in September of last year, I had the opportunity to tour a cemetery. I even had to buy tickets for this. I was very excited, but realize that not everyone would jump at such a chance. I bought two tickets but wound up selling one to someone else the day of the tour because I couldn’t find any family or friends as eager as I was to take this trip. (I do know there are other genealogists and history buffs out there that would have been as enthusiastic about it as I was.)
Forest Lawn Cemetery is a fascinating historical place. The cemetery occupies over 250 acres (I walked about three miles total on the tour but didn’t see everything) and contains the remains of some historical and noteworthy individuals such as President Millard Fillmore, Dorothy Goetz the first wife of Irving Berlin, Rick James, and Barbara Franklin the mother of singer Aretha Franklin.
I took a lot of photographs of various stones, monuments and mausoleums. I even got the chance to see some living residents (the cemetery association does impersonations of some of the “residents” there.) There’s a deer that lives on the grounds that became famous for being a surrogate goose father. Cemetery personnel dubbed him “John Deer” and he even made local news. When the tour was over I drove my car around to some of the places I didn’t get to see on the tour. While driving along, I saw another sign of life in the cemetery. I drove down one lane covered by trees and noted a car parked on the side. A young woman was sitting on the hood of the car while her beau stood on the side serenading her with his guitar. How romantic!
Writer Mary Lou Brannon put it so eloquently when she said, “A cemetery is a history of people – a perpetual record of yesterday. A cemetery exists because every life is worth living and remembering – always.”