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Gravestone Symbology-FYI

katlaughing 01 Aug 99 - 12:37 AM
Art Thieme 01 Aug 99 - 11:13 AM
Rick Fielding 01 Aug 99 - 11:24 AM
Doctor John 01 Aug 99 - 12:08 PM
Rick Fielding 01 Aug 99 - 12:29 PM
katlaughing 01 Aug 99 - 01:04 PM
Philippa 01 Aug 99 - 02:49 PM
katlaughing 01 Aug 99 - 03:26 PM
Rick Fielding 01 Aug 99 - 11:25 PM
KickyC 01 Aug 99 - 11:47 PM
Roger the zimmer 02 Aug 99 - 06:46 AM
Bert 02 Aug 99 - 08:55 AM
catspaw49 02 Aug 99 - 09:15 AM
The_one_and_only_Dai 02 Aug 99 - 10:10 AM
catspaw49 02 Aug 99 - 10:38 AM
The_one_and_only_Dai 02 Aug 99 - 10:43 AM
Roger the Zimmer 02 Aug 99 - 10:48 AM
The_one_and_only_Dai 02 Aug 99 - 10:53 AM
Roger the zimmer 02 Aug 99 - 11:00 AM
hotspur 02 Aug 99 - 11:01 AM
The_one_and_only_Dai 02 Aug 99 - 11:05 AM
Bill D 02 Aug 99 - 12:59 PM
Bert 02 Aug 99 - 01:05 PM
Sourdough 02 Aug 99 - 01:06 PM
Jeri 02 Aug 99 - 01:11 PM
Doctor John 02 Aug 99 - 01:22 PM
Philippa 02 Aug 99 - 03:47 PM
catspaw49 02 Aug 99 - 04:12 PM
Bert 02 Aug 99 - 04:16 PM
catspaw49 02 Aug 99 - 04:30 PM
katlaughing 02 Aug 99 - 05:18 PM
catspaw49 02 Aug 99 - 05:33 PM
Bert 03 Aug 99 - 09:55 AM
Rick Fielding 03 Aug 99 - 10:01 AM
Linn the Thanatolithologist 03 Aug 99 - 12:28 PM
catspaw49 03 Aug 99 - 12:55 PM
OSh 03 Aug 99 - 01:11 PM
catspaw49 03 Aug 99 - 01:34 PM
Bert 03 Aug 99 - 01:48 PM
catspaw49 03 Aug 99 - 01:53 PM
katlaughing 03 Aug 99 - 01:59 PM
Robin Graves 03 Aug 99 - 02:17 PM
catspaw49 03 Aug 99 - 02:50 PM
OSh 03 Aug 99 - 02:52 PM
Jeri 03 Aug 99 - 03:23 PM
katlaughing 03 Aug 99 - 03:37 PM
Doctor John 03 Aug 99 - 04:33 PM
Jasper 03 Aug 99 - 05:39 PM
catspaw49 03 Aug 99 - 05:39 PM
Sourdough 04 Aug 99 - 04:05 AM
Linn the Thanatolithologist 04 Aug 99 - 07:24 AM
OSh 05 Aug 99 - 01:15 PM
Jeri 06 Aug 99 - 09:16 AM
MMario 06 Aug 99 - 09:22 AM
catspaw49 06 Aug 99 - 09:50 AM
Jeri 06 Aug 99 - 09:58 AM
Linn the Bat Goddess 07 Aug 99 - 02:38 PM
katlaughing 07 Aug 99 - 04:00 PM
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Subject: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Aug 99 - 12:37 AM

Since a lot of us are into the old songs and such, I thought you all might enjoy thei list, sent to me from a genealogy digest I subscribe to from Nova Scotia. I used to love the old cemeteries when I lived in New England. The kids & I often would go there to eat lunch and take a walk round reading the inscriptions, some so tragic, while others were full of romance.

Anchors & Ships = Seafaring Profession
Arches = Victory
Arrows = Mortality
Bouquets = Condolences, Grief
Buds = Renewal of Life
Bugles = Resurrection, Military
Candle,snuffed = Time, Mortality
Coffin = Mortality
Crossed Swords = High ranking military person
Darts = Mortality
Doves = The Soul, Purity
Father Time = Mortality, Grim Reaper
Flowers = Brevity of early existence, Sorrow
Flying Birds = Flight of the soul
Fruits = Eternal Plenty
Garlands = Victory in Death
Imps = Mortality
Hand of God chopping = Sudden Death
Handshake = Farewell to earthly existence
Hearts = The soul in bliss, Love of Christ
Horns = The Resurrection
Hourglass = Swiftness of Time
Lambs = Innocence
Picks & Shovels = Mortality
Portals = Passageway to the eternal journey
Roses = Brevity of earthly existence
Sheaves of Wheat = Time, The divine harvest
Shells = The pilgrimage of life
Suns = The resurrection
Thistles = Remembrance
Tombs = Mortality
Trees = Life
Trumpeters = Life
Willows = Earthly Sorrow
Winged death`s Head = Mortality
Winged effigies = The flight of the soul


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Art Thieme
Date: 01 Aug 99 - 11:13 AM

And the stone, itself, means that there is, most likely, a dead thing a few feet down. ;-)

Art


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 01 Aug 99 - 11:24 AM

Interesting Kat.
I wonder if anyone can tell me what the Skull and crossbones on a grave stone signifies. On many trips through England and Scotland over the years I've seen this on quite old gravestones (1600s to 1700s) and have asked many people what it means. I've gotten dozens of different answers, but most of the time, just a shrug. The most common answer has been "plague victim", but somehow that doesn't seem like the final word on it to me. Anyone know for sure.
Rick


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Doctor John
Date: 01 Aug 99 - 12:08 PM

Rick. Gruesome subject coming up. I think when the graveyards were full, they dug 'em up when the bodies were reduced to bones and kept just the skull and thigh bones, storing them in a charnel house which might have been a crypt below the church. Perhaps waiting for judgement day as a sort of compromise. ("Resurection of the body ... etc). The rest was thrown away. I think this is where the skull and cross bones comes from. Kat, can I interest you in the Church Monuments Society. I can't do a blue clicky thing but a search engine should find it. I'm not paid honest! And you might find something of interest. For those into this horrible subject try: The English Way of Death by Julian Litten and "The Fireside Book of Death" by Robert Wilkins. Strong stomachs needed. Dr John


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 01 Aug 99 - 12:29 PM

Thank you Dr.
Rick


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Aug 99 - 01:04 PM

Thanks, Dr. John. I will look into both the Society and the books. I really am not trying to be gruesome, just love old cemeteries and reading the inscriptions. When I lived in New England, the thing for unscrupulous people to do, was to steal gravestones, take them to NYC and sell them for beaucoup bucks as coffee tables. That really PO'd a lot of us, esp. the families of the deceased! Art: too true!**BG**

Here's a little something I wrote up for my mom one time about the cemetrey in Mystic, CT:

From a letter to my Mom, 4/26/93; Mystic, CT "Jerusha and I have been walking everyday at an old cemetery. It is so interesting!
There is one stone with Chinese characters written on it and, in English, it says, "we are one in God's heaven". There are many little children's graves from the sixteen and seventeeen hundreds; as well as many of ships' captains and soldiers of all wars.
Huge, peaceful trees lend their serenity and protection amid great, broad expanses of green grass, while the Mystic River, broadened into a wide delta, slowly wends its was to Long Island Sound.
The dirt roads are paved with clam shells dropped, from high on the wing, by hungry seagulls. Great drooping tree branches offer cool shade from a not very bright sun.
Small hawks, raccous gulls, brash ravens, articulate mockingbirds, and robins trill, whistle, mimic, and wax poetic, lifting one's spirits no matter the day's weather or events.
Majestic headstones proudly proclaim the hoped for immortality of each family through whatever claim to fame they may have -- even the humble, abiding love stated for one another.
I've seen vaults with monuments to soldiers who died while trying to escape the Rebel prisons of the South; babies who drowned or died of "the fever"; women who literally gave their all to carry on the husband's name through death in childbirth; couples who have their stones mounted, but no death dates etched in -- they are still alive! Talk about early retirement! The old stones are my favorites. Each one tells a story, allows me a glimpse of a life gone by -- its struggles, hopes, and joys.
I think of the graveyard as nature undisturbed; I guess because all of the people in it are so deep and quiet! Ha! Ha!

katlaughing


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Philippa
Date: 01 Aug 99 - 02:49 PM

I thought the skull and crossbones on graves were simply a mortality symbol. You sometimes find them along with a bell and an hour glass (man's life is short). There are some old graves with these symbols in County Fermanagh, Ireland and even in the Isle of Skye, Scotland.

Anyone care to discuss various symbols - hands, etc. found on Jewish gravestones?


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Aug 99 - 03:26 PM

Yes! I'd love to know more about them, Phillipa.


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 01 Aug 99 - 11:25 PM

Arrrgh Phillipa. I'm back to square one on the "skull and crossbones"! I guess this is why after twenty years I still haven't gotten the "undisputed" answer. Thanks.
Rick


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: KickyC
Date: 01 Aug 99 - 11:47 PM

My husband and I took a 9-day Iowa History Tour one year. One thing we studied about was cemeteries and the history you could find there. You will find skulls and crossbones on many of the older graves of European immigrants. Especially in the Czech cemeteries that we visited where they used iron headstones. I can't remember exactly why, but I think the instructor said it was just a symbol for death (sort of an ashes to ashes sort of thing).

I spent many wonderful Sunday afternoons with my grandparents visiting the cemetery. My sister and I would play while they would look up old friends. Cemeteries were never the gruesome scary things that they are to some people. I have such fond memories of being there, peaceful. Now that I have learned more about the symbolism, etc, they are also interesting historical sites to visit.

KickyC


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Roger the zimmer
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 06:46 AM

I know in Greece, where land is often scarce, bodies are exhumed after 12 months, the bones reverently washed by the relatives and placed in an ossuary and the land reused. It was a bit disconcerting once to see a pile of used coffins, dumped in the corner of a churchyard, but we buttoned-up WASPS may be too squeamish. In the Cook Islands in the Pacific, elaborate family graves are erected in the front gardens close to the road, but after a generation of loving care are allowed to decay naturally, the generations move on and the physical signs don't need to be maintained as the family traditions are still remembered.


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Bert
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 08:55 AM

Graveyards in Alabama are like thishttp://www.mudcat.org/bert/songs/plastic.html


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: catspaw49
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 09:15 AM

My this is nice. I get back after a dropping my boys off with Karen's sister, driving 20 hours out of 60. I'm incredibly depressed and the house is so empty without them. My weimeraner seems to have developed a hip/leg problem and we're going to the vet to check him out. I hop over to the 'Cat for a little boost and the first thread is this! Yeah, I know I didn't have to read it, but I'm obviously as morbid as the rest of you. I may go out for a root canal later.

While I'm out you may feel free to check out this fun site from my favorites list.............

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: The_one_and_only_Dai
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 10:10 AM

Now then now then. None of this, of course, explains this little lot.

(http://www.idca.com/~cephasmi/jwmasons1.99.html)

Ewige Blumenkraft.


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: catspaw49
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 10:38 AM

Where you goin' with this Dai? I'm suspectin' that I don't really wanna' go, if you get my drift?

catspaw


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: The_one_and_only_Dai
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 10:43 AM

Ah! Drift! It's all square and on the level, brother.


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Roger the Zimmer
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 10:48 AM

Ach y Ffi, Dai, roll your trouser leg down and get down to the tavern for a pint of Brains!


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: The_one_and_only_Dai
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 10:53 AM

...shoving the evil Mr. Hyde away from the PC...
Phew, I'm glad he's gone. I thought the Orbital Mind Control Lasers had me for a minute.

I just thought I'd contribute that particular really weird URL, just to show, er, well I don't know, really.

My wife and I went to discuss our will with our s*l@citor last week, and he wanted to know if we had any special requirements for 'disposal'... Of course, that really set me off. And now I've got a shortlist of about fifty places I'd like to be scattered, after we decided that 'hang me up on the spinning-room wall, and pickle my bones in alcohol' wasn't really viable...

One of my favourite possibilities is somewhere like West Kennet or Wayland's Smithy (both old Long Barrows). Trouble is, do you think some 5,000-year-old chaps would mind a 'newbie'? Or would they keep me awake all night with their complaining?

hm... I'll have to consider this one extremely carefully...


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Roger the zimmer
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 11:00 AM

...don't forget to remind your executors to check the wind direction before scattering, or grey faces all round!
Personally, I've left my body to the Inspector Of Anatomy for teaching, research or transplant purposes.
When they see it I'll probably get the best laugh of my career!
"Now students, if you eat & drink too much, don't exercise and listen to that jungle music you'll end up like this poor wretch."


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: hotspur
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 11:01 AM

Well, you could always opt to haunt your old home--assuming you don't have spectral inhabitants already.


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: The_one_and_only_Dai
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 11:05 AM

"I, Dai Phillips, being of sound mind and boozy, do declare this to be my last will and testament. I wish to haunt my house".

You could insert any phrase you liked there, I suppose. "I wish to be hard-boiled and fed to a giant talking anteater".


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Bill D
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 12:59 PM

katlaughing...have you ever been to Central City, Colo?..if you take the back road out of town, as if you were gonna take the 'OhMyGod road'(must be 200 switchbacks in 10 miles) down the back side of the mountain to Georgetown, you will pass a little cemetary dating back to the 1880s or so...with MANY amazing stones and poetry. Worth the trip...


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Bert
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 01:05 PM

"I've left my body..." You've almost got a song there Roger!


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Sourdough
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 01:06 PM

There's another interesting cemetary in Cripple Creek, Colorado. I had just finished reading a history of the town, Cripple Creek Days, by a woman who had grown up there during the "Richest Gold Camp in the World" time. In the graveyard were all the people of the book, the bankers, saloon keepers (one had a great monument!)and the less successful and in some cases less savoury people like politiicans . It was strange. I almost felt as though I were meeting them.

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Jeri
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 01:11 PM

I've invited a thanatolithologist friend to come visit this thread. She and her husband are very good friends who took me to visit F. J. Child's grave so I could take a rubbing. BTW, Child is not listed at that URL listing the locations of Important Dead People that Catspaw posted.

I really think the skull and crossbones just indicates there's a dead guy down there. Like we wouldn't have guessed...


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Doctor John
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 01:22 PM

Two nasty practices of interest. There a cemetery in South America (can't recall where and I don't know if it's a common practice) where your relatives have to pay rent on your plot until enternity. If they fall behind with the rent - up you come and off on display in the local museum. A good deterrent? In Naples you're buried in the ground in a coffin until your body becomes mummified in the hot soil. At intervals you're dug up, checked and returned if you're not yet ready. When you're nicely mummified, you're cleaned, dusted with fungicide, wrapped in a sheet and stored in what looks like a locker room. You coffin is burned. At intervals your relatives take you out, have a look, clean and dust you down again and then put you back. A folk practice if not folk music. Dr John.


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Philippa
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 03:47 PM

Here are a couple of serious sites, but alas no illustration, just description:
tombstone traveller, http://www.uh.edu/~cleimer/symbol.html
sepulcral symbols, http://monum-iudaicum.lodz.onet.pl/cemetery/guide/symbols.html


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: catspaw49
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 04:12 PM

So a winged possum flying through the gates of the nether regions while shitting acorns would be appropriate for me huh? My soul in it's flight through the afterlife knowing I have crapped on all my opportunities and blown my potential all to hell.........yeah, that'd be 'bout right.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Bert
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 04:16 PM

When YOU go Mudcat is going to auction off what's left of your guts for tiple strings.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: catspaw49
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 04:30 PM

Hey, when I go I'm takin' the tiple with me in case the afterlife turns out to be a lot like the Neil Young Center for the Terminally Screwed.............somehow Bert, I could see that being the case.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: katlaughing
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 05:18 PM

BillD, I have been to Central City & Sourdough, I know I've been thru Cripple Creek, as a child. That area has been so commercialised, I tend to avoid it like the plague. I know....to read the gravestones would be worth it. If you enjoy the history of the area, be sure to read "Doc Susie", the first woman doctor in Frasier, she wound up trying to heal all of the poor abused immigrants who built the Moffat Tunnel. Quite a good and quick read, with fun personal insights into the life & times on the frontier.

Now, the cemetry in New Castle, CO. is my favourite just because it is where all of my grandparents and otehr assorted ancestors are, as well as my mom's ashes. I have such wonderful memoreis of going up there as a child and straightening the rocks which outlined the plot. That's probably why I've always liked cemetries...such a positive first experience.

In Tibet, there were certain lamas assigned to taking care of the dead bodies. They were very efficiently dissected, cut apart, and left for the buzzards and other elements to dispose of. Really brings the true meaning of "At Oneness" to light.**BG** Since China invaded, I don't kwow if they still practise this.

'Spaw: I hope your dawg is okay and, uh, I don't know how to tlel you this, but I am pretty sure they don't allow tiples in the Afterlife!

katlaughing


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: catspaw49
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 05:33 PM

NO TIPLES???? To Hell With It!!! I AIN'T GOIN'!!!!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Bert
Date: 03 Aug 99 - 09:55 AM

Kat, there is probably going to be a special afterlife for Mudcats. It will be full of puns and typos and wisecracks and tiples, possums and roadkill and HTML. The database will, of course, have every song that was ever written.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 03 Aug 99 - 10:01 AM

Spending eternity with Catspaw might scare some, but it would be heaven to me.
Rick (suffering from sunstroke)


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Linn the Thanatolithologist
Date: 03 Aug 99 - 12:28 PM

Salu --

I'm the thanatolithologist that Jeri dragged in to this conversation. Haven't read all of the posts closely, but the thread seems to have diverged from the original quest for info on iconography and symbology. Anywho, my particular area of interest is New England slate markers from about 1650 to about 1815 (when you get into willows and urns my eyes glaze over).

Good books to look up for starters for information include:

Forbes, Harriette Merrifield. Gravestones of Early New England and the Men Who Made Them 1653-1800. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin / Center for Thanatology Research and Education, 1927, 1955, 1989. The research & book that started it all.

Ludwig, Allan I. Graven Images: New England Stonecarving and Its Symbols, 1650-1815. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1966.

Tashjian, Dickran and Ann. Memorials For Children of Change: The Art of Early New England Stonecarving. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1974.

Also Margaret Coffin's book, Death In Early America.

I belong to several state old cemeteries associations. There is also the major research organization The Association for Gravestone Studies, where I'm a lapsed member.

The symbolism as well as the philosophy behind it changed over the years, from soul effigies and skulls and winged skulls on earlier stones through cherubs and into almost a portrait of the deceased. Some early carvings were cut out because of religious beliefs that disagreed with representation on the markers. The "rural cemetery movement" started around 1840 (Mt. Auburn in Boston is the first) with marble markers and a landscaped park-like cemetery.

This brief outline is probably more information than anybody wanted, but I hope it answered some questions.

Lately I seem to be locating folklorists or people in folksongs. Jeri helped me locate Timothy Mirrick this spring -- he's the guy who got bit by the rattlesnake in "Springfield Mountain."

Linn the Thanatolithologist


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Aug 99 - 12:55 PM

Thank you Rick....and the same to you. Now let's both stay in out of the sun and stick with this life as long as possible.

LINN----Thanks for the posting. I don't know why I'm so amazed at the amount of info you posted or the rest in this thread. I'm sure it's a drop in the bucket. Just amazes me though..........Jeri has some unique friends...or maybe only one??? Are you the friend who collects Rubber Squid too?

catspaw


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: OSh
Date: 03 Aug 99 - 01:11 PM

Intresting thread. I too like to "wnader" through cemeteries and look at the sometime wonder art of the grave sites. Here in Chicago are some of the most wonderful sites to view tombstones and family vaults (IMHO).

As well, and intresting iconography thing I learned while in Ireland re: tombstones. The Cletic Cross, with the standing cross and a circle between the bars has an intresting history. Looking back to early grave markers for the "important" dead in Ireland and Scotland (1000 AD on) where the Celtic Cross is used, the cross section used to be total inclosed in the circle. This was the conjoining of both the Christian and pagan traditions, w/ the cross for Christ and the circle for the sun (a pagan diety, Lough Longhand is was told) As Christianity became more prevalent, the circle shrank and the cross became larger w/ the modern standard being the cross w/ the circle no more than 1/2 way out the "arms" of the cross.

At least this is what was passed on to me. And if you walk some of the older churchyards, you do see the general change across the years.

True or not, very intresting.

John OSh


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Aug 99 - 01:34 PM

Yeah, that's great......Just checked with my travel agent and they have the "Greater Chicago Deadass Tour" on special this month. 82 cemeteries in 4 days with three night lodging at the "Norman Bates PsychoMotor Inn."

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Bert
Date: 03 Aug 99 - 01:48 PM

Linn the T, I didn't know that 'Springfield Mountain' was a true story. Now you've got us all curious. Where is the grave and can you psot a picture of it for us?

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Aug 99 - 01:53 PM

Bert, I assume that is the same one we ran a thread on earlier...also goes by "Rattlesnake Mountain" and a few other names???

Spaw --- looked for thread but forum search ain't doing too well at the moment for me.


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: katlaughing
Date: 03 Aug 99 - 01:59 PM

Oh, thanks, Bert! Now there's no hope!!!**BIG GRIN** Truly, 'Spaw, BIG Rick, Bert, Mick & all the other Mudders.....it would be heaven with you guys there!

Linn, thank you so much. I enjoyed the New England cemeteries greatly when I was there, as did my children. You didn't post too much, in fact.....more would be better! Tell us about Springfield Hill, please. Also, have you been to Old Deerfield? Lovely stones, as well as the one in Berlin, CT.

Curious story about the one in Berlin. It was quite old and had a marker about 4 feet tall with the inscription of "Jerusha, wife of" etc. My youngest daughter's name is Jerusha, so twice when we were up there, I snapped a picture of just the stone. Nothing came out on the film. The third time, she posed with her hands resting on top of the stone. That time we got a beautiful picture. It was an eerie place, but never scary. None of the photos I took, on three separate times and different rolls of film, came out as anything but blank, except the one that she was in.

katlaughingwithcuriousity


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Robin Graves
Date: 03 Aug 99 - 02:17 PM

Further details for a book mentioned by Linn:
Coffin, Margaret M. 1976.Death in Early America. Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers, NY.
I suppose Margaret's surname aroused her interest in the subject!
there are a few more interesting looking books listed in the first of the two sites recommended by Philippa, and there are some illustrations to that page if you click on the coloured words.


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Aug 99 - 02:50 PM

Robin Graves......cute..........can I give you the name of my travel agent to book a tour?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: OSh
Date: 03 Aug 99 - 02:52 PM

catspaw49

Actually, they do have tours of the cemeteries such as Rosehill, Calvary, etc in Chicago to look at the tombs of the famous and infamous such as George Pullman (of "Pullman" railcar fame who was so hated by his workers, and so afraid of being dug up by them and his body desecrated that he had them bury him 20 ft down with alternating levels of lead, cement and railroad ties to foil any attempt to dig him up. Also such greats as Louis Sullivan (the architech sic- sorry, I'm on painkillers and the spelling is suffering) etc. I was always brought up in the Irish tradition of death as a saddness of passing but more importantly, a celebration of the persons life. Many of the graveyards reflect that and have works of art/monuments (rather than just plain tombstones) in honor of those passed on or to celebrate a family's fortune/status. Some of the works truely belong in fine art museams.

Some people do consider it morbid, but I see it as "folk" art of each era to mark individuals passing on.

John OSh


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Jeri
Date: 03 Aug 99 - 03:23 PM

Linn may not get back in here if she gets really busy at work. I told her you guys had questions.

Bert, I was with Linn at Mirrick's grave - no pictures. There was a sign saying no rubbings or photos without prior permission.

Shit, Catspaw, now you've gotten me into trouble! (Linn is also Squid Woman.)


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: katlaughing
Date: 03 Aug 99 - 03:37 PM

In New London, CT there was a family mausoleum which has Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass windows, speaking of fine art. They were stolen, when we lived near there, so we followed the case closely in the papers. A detective from NYC, if I remember right, became an expert on fine art thievery and, again the memory has lapses, was instrumental in the recovery of said windows a few years later.

I saw many examples of artwork, which would qualify as museum pieces, while living in CT and MA.

There is a really gothic tomb in the Stonington Borough cemetery, right off of Route One, in Connecticut (CT). Lots of peaked gables and such. The kids and i used to call it Dracula's Castle.

In that same cemetery there is the most romantic and sad inscription I've ever seen. I always thought I would write a story based on it:

Here lie the ashes of the heart of
ANTHONY HAVELOCK ALLAN
Baronet
1904 -
Close By The Place Where Lie With Those
Of Her Forebears The Mortal Remains
Of His Most Dear Love for 23 Years
(at the very bottom)She Was Like A Field Of Flowers In Sunlight


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Doctor John
Date: 03 Aug 99 - 04:33 PM

Linn, The Church Monuments Society needs you! Dr John


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Jasper
Date: 03 Aug 99 - 05:39 PM

The relevance to this thread is somewhat tenuous but what the hey. I've always thought I'd like to be cremated and have my ashes spread over a certain lake in northern Canada that I have been fishing on for almost 20 years now.

My father, who is a physician, loves to tell this story whenever someone talks about being cremated. One of his patients passed away (dad hasn't lost a patient yet, some don't get better - but he always knows where they are.) This particular patient had been a pilot for many, many years and had expressed the wish that his ashes be scattered from his airplane over his farm. A pilot was hired to fly the airplane and the wife and two children dutifully took off in the airplane carrying the ash urn over the farmland to perform this final ritual. The windows on a Cessna 182 open outwards setting up quite a windstorm in the cabin at 125 mph. When the urn was opened to distribute the ashes - POOF - said ashes were distributed not over the farmland but over the interior (and occupants) of the aircraft.

I think I'll ask to have my ashes quietly tipped over the side of the boat. Stationary boat.


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Aug 99 - 05:39 PM

John OSh ---- I'm sorry if I offended you in any way...and I do know the Pullman story. I have almost no self control and I sometimes go over the edge...but once again, truth is stranger than fiction as you say there are tours!!! Could you check the yellow pages and see if there is a "Norman Bates PsychoMotor Inn?".....And I hope whatever you're taking painkillers for is not serious my friend.....you'd let us know wouldn't you?

And speaking of truth........Karen just read this thread and was interested...She likes checking out monuments too, but when she got to the name of poster Robin Graves, she cracked up! Seems that another histologist she works with in the lab had a maiden name...yep, Robin Graves. I wonder about parents sometimes. I was in school with a girl named Sharon Peters............

AND JERI------------GOTCHA' ON A LONG SHOT!!!!!!!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Sourdough
Date: 04 Aug 99 - 04:05 AM

A photographer friend, Tico Herrera, with roots in West Virginia, a deep love of their traditional music, as well as a good source for corn whisky, traveled to Cripple Creek where he took some stunning photos of the graveyard there. I think that was another reason I had decided to go there.

Luckily, it was in the years before Cripple Creek had been turned into a neon-trimmed adult amusement park. The history of Cripple Creek still felt close at hand. There were still real businesses on Main Street, hardware stores, a shoe store, all the homely businesses that make a town live. They had yet to be displaced by the Gold Strike Frozen Yogurts and the Cripple Creek T-Shirts.

While I was looking around town, I met another motorcyclist. He told me about Zeke's. He was certainly an enthusiastic booster, "They've got the best hamburgers in the world there!" Even though I am not a hamburger enthusiast, I couldn't pass up "the best in the world", could I?

Cripple Creek is high in the Rockies but Zeke's was in Victor, a town considerably further up the mountain. Zeke's which turned out to be a drugstore, rather than the cafe I expected. Because of, or perhaps in spite of that, the hamburgers were almost as good as my new friend had said they would be. It was late in the afternoon and the Victorian houses looked so comfortable as the lights came on but I knew I had to get down to the big town of Cripple Creek because there was no place to stay in Victor. I decided that I would come back the next day to explore this gem of a town. I already knew of two of its claims to fame, Zeke's hamburgers and the fact that Victor was the birthplace of Lowell Thomas. I wondered what else I would find if I looked.

It was mid-morning when I drove up the mountain to Victor. One of those old Victorian houses had a small sign outside, hanging demurely from a slender gibbet announcing that this was the Victor Museum. Clearly this had to be my first stop.

Other than the vague memory that there were memorabilia from the life of explorer, journalist and broadcaster, Lowell Thomas, I can't remember anything about the exhibits in the Victor Historical Museum. What I do remember is May Wing.

Of course I didn't know her name when I dropped a couple of dollars into the clear jar marked "Donations". She probably wasn't impressed with me, a big, somewhat hulking motorcyclist with boot heels that sounded loud against the hardwood floor inside that quiet old house. I walked as softly as I could around the exhibits but I must admit I was curious about the woman who turned out to be May Wing.

She looked fragile but that was no odd thing. She was in her mid-eighties. It turned out that she had lived in Victor and in Cripple Creek ever since she was four. She had a good memory and she was a natural story-teller. When I realized that, I sat down with her and we began a conversation that went on several hours. After about fifteen minutes, I realized that this woman was a treasure trove of stories and I asked her if she would mind if I went out to the motorcycle and brought in a tape recorder. "Your stories are so wonderful, I'll never be able to remember them all and I don't want to forget them!" She said she had no objection. I think that was because she was really into her memories now. I don't think she even noticed that I had gone outside to the bike. She just kept talking. As I put the microphone on the desk stand, she kept talking. As I peeled the shrink wrap off the cassette box, she kept talking. As I put the tape in and adjusted the recording levels, she kept talking. I was working as fast as I could realizing that every moment I was losing something of her stories When I was sure I had everything working, that the tape was recording, I was able to listen to what she was saying and even ask questions.

Stories tumbled from her. She talked about the day the first steam train made its way to Cripple Creek, she described the electric trolleys that had run every half hour connecting the gold camps of Victor, Cripple Creek, Goldfield and some others. She told of the miners' strike that closed the mines down in this area, and of the gunfight in the cafe next door to where she and her mother were living and how her father had gone in and rolled a big round table in front of the door to stop bullets from leaving the barroom and flying into his home. She described her life as the daughter of a miner and then as the wife of a miner. She talked of going to dances; of being a homemaker in a place where booms and crashes were commonplace as the price of gold soared and plummeted; of raising a family of her own - it was the story of "the richest gold camp in the world" told from a woman's perspective.

I'm going to jump ahead now about a half dozen years, to San Francisco. I was leaving that city to head home to Boston. For the first five hundred miles or so, I would have company, a friend from San Francisco named Mark, who also rode motorcycles. Mark was so anxious for me to meet his business partner that he had offered to ride with me to the friend's Nevada ranch in where we would spend a couple of days together before I headed more or less directly home.

Mark turned out to be a good riding partner and by the time we hit the Sierra, we had settled on a comfortable speed. We drove, appreciatively through Yosemite, stopping occasionally to sit and talk beside a stream or to enjoy a particularly stunning overlook.

In the town of Lee Vining, we stopped for gasoline. In the garage was a striking looking automobile from the thirties a black and sleek automobile even four or five decades later was still an eye-catcher. The four supercharger tubes on each side of the hood helped me to identify this car. It was a Cord. Mark had a surprise for me. He said that the ranch where we were heading had once been owned by Mr. Cord. This was shaping up to be quite a trip.

Ir was well after dark when we rolled across Fish Lake Valley at the foot of the White Mountains and onto the ranch. Or warm welcome contrasted with the cold night air and we were happy to get inside. Don opened a welcome bottle of bourbon and Mark and I settled in. The talk in the ranch house kitchen that night ranged from our trip from San Francisco to the history of the valley and its early Mormon settlers, about Mr. Cord (who it turned out had also been the president of both Lionel Trains and of American Airlines) and lots of other things. There was a great deal of laughter and stories of ranching and motorcycling.

Don had a lot of different business interests beside the ranch. To help him remain organized, he had a personal assistant, an older woman who was clearly very efficient. Although she was in the kitchen with us, she was rather reserved and didn't join in the conversation. After a while, I felt that we were being rude so I started a conversation with her. It was based on my having overheard her mention Cripple Creek a few minutes earlier. I asked her about it.

"I grew up in Cripple Creek. Have you ever heard of it?"

"Heard of it? I've been there. I've even been to Victor."

Julie was surprised. "Actually, I'm from Cripple Creek and Victor. I never mention Victor because no one's ever heard of it."

I told her about my experiences in Victor, about Zeke's and especially about the woman I met at the museum. At first I wasn't able to remember her name but by association ("It sounds like a Chinese name but it isn't" - BINGO! May Wing!)I found her name tucked away in my memory warehouse.

I told her about May Wing's stories about the trolley cars, the gunfights, the dances and more. Julie was very interested in these stories of old Victor. When I was through, she told me that May Wing was her grandmother. Julie was clearly mved. Mrs Wing had died two years before and now I was telling her family stories that she had never heard before.

By this time, the others in the room had caught the drift of the conversation and were quiet.

"I made a tape of our conversation."

The sentence just hung there in the kitchen.

Julie was quiet. She was trying to comprehend the coincidence that brought this wandering motorcyclist to a remote ranch in Nevada with news of her dead grandmother in Colorado.

Within a couple of weeks, Julie had copies of the tape for each of May Wing's grandchildren and I had a feeling that I had somehow had been given the privilege of closing a circle in the sky.


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Linn the Thanatolithologist
Date: 04 Aug 99 - 07:24 AM

Oh gawd! How did that slip out? Yes, I admit to having th largest collection of rubber squid in New Hampshire. Damn! Now I suppose I'l lhave to insure them!

Couldn't do a photo of Mirick's grave, as Jeri explained. Frustrating! Not only is Mirick's stone fascinating, so are most of the markers in the cemetery. I could distinguish at least 2 major carvers, but most of the carving style was similar to "The Hook and Eye Man"-type carving. But the bulbous "Kilroy-was-here" noses weren't even 2-lobed, they were 3-lobed! There were a lot of crowns, but also a curved bar above some of the heads. Some of these curved bars turned into hair, or even wings. The rosettes were a sinuous feathery design rather than similar to the stylized Japanese chrysanthemum design.

So I took notes and made a few sketches. Here's the epitaph:

Here lies ye Body of Mr. Timothy Mirick, Son of Lieut. Thomas & Mrs. Mirick who died August 7th 1761 in ye 23rd Year of his Age.

"He cometh forth like a flower and is cut down He fleeeth also as a Shadow and continueth not." (Job XIV,2)

I had hoped the town offices would be close to the cop shop and DPW which we had passed on the way into town so I could spread out my credentials and get permission to do some photography at least on Monday on the way back (and a rubbing!!!), but couldn't find the offices. Will have to phone/write, etc. It will be worth a day trip (a long day trip, but do-able) back maybe in fall. Very frustrating, though, not to be able to take photographs. (And I didn't want to take the chance of screwing up permission by not playing by the rules.)

Linn (also known as the Bat Goddess)


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: OSh
Date: 05 Aug 99 - 01:15 PM

Catspaw,

Not an issue, especially as in life I am an extremely sarcastic person myself (I live by the personally philosophy that if one says something "stupid" or inaine, it is not only my God given right, but moral duty to jump all over them. Same goes if I do the same - but never to be hurtfull or meanspirited).

And not to say that I spend great deals of time in cemeteries, but sometimes the sense of peace there is amazing. When in college, I had a creative writing class and had to write short stories and poetry, sometimes I would just walk through a cemetery and "soak" up the history. So many lives and loves in history waiting there. I would just let my imagination run wild and write if an intresting name was found or one of the monuments affected me somehow.

Maybe I'm just a "morbid" individual, but I do not find graveyards depressing.

BTW, the original reason I replied I forgot to mention in my other posts, but I always heard the skull and crossbones was placed on "untimely" deaths headstones (as if there are really any timely deaths)

And the painkillers were for a minor surgery - hopfully all taken care of! Thansk for the concern.

Over and out.

John OSh


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Jeri
Date: 06 Aug 99 - 09:16 AM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: MMario
Date: 06 Aug 99 - 09:22 AM

Linn - you're going to slip in something like "also known as the Bat Goddess" and not tell us WHY? Fer'shame!

MMario


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: catspaw49
Date: 06 Aug 99 - 09:50 AM

....and while you're at it, tell us about the rubber squid too. Please???

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Jeri
Date: 06 Aug 99 - 09:58 AM

She was trying to use an e-mail link I sent her that didn't work anymore. Max added the number of messages in a thread in as part of the link. If the number goes up, the link doesn't work. Seems like links within Mudcat (embedded in other threads) automatically get updated, but not outside.

I provided thread-searching info, but refreshed the thread to make it easier.

I think I'll let 'Bat Goddess' explain herself!


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: Linn the Bat Goddess
Date: 07 Aug 99 - 02:38 PM

First things first: skulls,crossbones, etc. really only denote a certain era in symbology. Slate markers can be dated by a combination of the symbolism used in the tympanum and the distance from Boston (and/or Newport, RI, home of the Stevens shop and other major carvers). In other words, the current fashion of symbols -- soul effigies to skulls, to winged skulls, to cherubs, to portraits of the deceased, to willows and urns to a complete change from slate to marble and a different style of sculpture -- changed first in Boston (or Newport) and the style changed a few years later the further away from the fashion center you got. See James Deetz in _In Small Things Remembered_, The Dublin Seminars, or any of the other gravestone books I listed earlier. I don't think I've run into any marker between 1650 and 1860-ish where the symbolism had anything to do with the cause of death. Children, though, if they had other than the current type of symbolism, were more likely to have flowers. Now, on to other things. Squid or bats first?If you have more than 3 of something, it becomes a collection, right? And then you have to maintain the collection by adding to it. That's how the rubber squid started. The third one was a glow in the dark one. The absolute best one in the collection was picked up on the Mass Pike at a rest area for 69 cents. (Lots of squid in the Berkshires, you know ;-) )Bats because we have a colony of little brown bats (that's the variety, not just a description of what they look like) in between the cathedral ceiling and the roof. I'm trying to persuade them that, though I like bats a lot, I really don't like them as house pets. With luck, after they leave for the winter we can get the main deck rebuilt and fill up the half dollar sized access hole just under the peak of the roof so that next season they'll use the bat house instead of being loud upstairs tenants (who don't eat enough mosquitoes, dammit!).Fewer of them get into the house now that the trim piece is up on the ceiling on either side of the bedroom door. (I live in a post-and-beam house with all the posts and beams exposed. The bats are color coordinated with the beams. Nice touch, huh. The two pieces of sheetrock meet at the peak of the bedroom ceiling, leaving about an inch gap, which is covered by a 2x6 trim piece. July is "National Bat Week" of sorts. The adolescent bats are leaving the nursery for the first time on wings that are growing over an 1/8 of an inch a day. They sometimes get confused and end up in the house. This year I had a very young bat fall through the labyrinth of cracks onto the bed. I doubt if it could fly, but I put it out on the quarterdeck without a lot of hope that mamma would find it, but she did.I'm trying to figure out how to put our bat adventures together into a children's book.More later, if anyone's interested.Linn


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Subject: RE: Gravestone Symbology-FYI
From: katlaughing
Date: 07 Aug 99 - 04:00 PM

Linn, you Gawdess, you! Keep 'em comin'! I am LMAOWROTF! Great stories; colour coordinated bats indeed! I had a friend in Stonington, CT who did info lectures and tours about and of popular bat sites; one was the old church (Congregational, if I remember right) at the tope of the hill on Peqout Trail aka the King's Highway. Really interesting.

Out here in the wild West, where they breed mossies for size, there are quite a few bat worshippers, with appropriate housing provided, room and board free of charge to any winged fellow with an appetite for that kind of thing. The local Izaak Walton League has a campground filled with bats and their condos. As it is right down by the river, it's a good thing.

Thanks for the info...hope we can catch you "on the fly" more often.

katlaughing


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