Archive for the cemeteries Category

Ghosts of Gettysburg

Posted in Carol Channing, cemeteries, Gettysburg, photography, youtube on October 30, 2009 by Pat Padua
Ghosts of Gettysburg

photo by Veronica Ebert - is that a General emerging stage right?

Gettsyburg, Pennsylvania, especially during the anniversary of the bloody battle, is by far the most haunted place I’ve been. In several days there V. and I both *saw* things we couldn’t explain. She saw soldiers trampling through our room, atop what once was Cemetery Hill; I saw a short figure in a bonnet across from what I later learned was an orphanage.

The abundance of ghost tours in Gettysburg (and the cornucopia of paranormal-themed programming on cable tv) tells you how much of a demand there is for ghost stories and spooky experiences. But the most haunted spots weren’t on the tour, and weren’t even the places named in the vanity press ghost books that prop up the ghost tour industry in this ghost-encrusted town.

As loyal readers of this blog may know, V. and I are wont to take our Carol Channing ventriloquist dummies into the field. Bringing these blonde plastic vixens onto this hallowed ground gave us some pause, but before we knew it we were posing the dolls on the replica cannons that were scattered on the field. If the spirits of any young soldiers were about, perhaps they were intrigued by our play and wanted to play too:

come and take my skull for a ride

I took this video on our second midnight walk on East Cemetery Hill, our last night in Gettysburg. The town was packed with history buffs primed for re-enactments, and the re-enactors themselves, stuck in a strange and devoted cycle of repeated history, so we were periodically met by other late-night ghost hunters. But as we got used to the dark we pressed further on into the cemetery, far from any other people and even free of the sound of the now distant road. I scanned the landscape with my Flip Video camera and didn’t hear anything unusual till I uploaded the video days later.

goodbye east cemetery hill, originally uploaded by a nameless yeast.
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gravestone portraits

Posted in cemeteries, DC, Florida, photography, Washington on October 2, 2009 by Pat Padua

click here for my "gravestone portraits" set on flickr

See the full set of gravestone portraits here.

The graveyard is the final resting place of our corporeal selves, but these grounds, however hallowed, are not necessarily haunted places. What restless spirits wander the earth tend to do so in more emotionally charged places: sites of traumatic events like battlefields and murder scenes or the crossroads of horrible accidents, but also mundane locales like the workplace. Someone living or dead has likely shuffleboarded their mortal coil where you are right now; there are echoes of the living and the dead everywhere.

But I come here not to spook the living but to remember the dead. In my years of visiting cemeteries I’ve only this year begun to photograph the memorial portraits built into grave markers. The portraits may be of the deceased in the prime of youth, in a studio setting or in a favorite environment, as a way of taking the accoutrements of their hobby or profession into a hopeful afterlife. Some of the portraits I’ve seen are startling, some absurd, and a few make me wonder if that’s really how the dead wanted to be remembered. I only ask that you show them some respect.

cemeteries of pasco county

cemeteries of hernando county, pt. 1

Posted in cemeteries, Florida on August 14, 2009 by Pat Padua

spring hill cemetery

G., the Cracker Barrel greeter in Spring Hill, gave us our next lead. He told us about the old African-American cemetery in the Old Spring Hill section of Brooksville. Elderly locals had a rather impolite name for it. The area was once known for Klan activity and lynchings. It was at the end of a dirt road in a secluded clearing in the woods, and kids would go there after dark to drink and get scared. G. told us that whenever he drove there with friends there was always some kind of car trouble – the engine wouldn’t start, someone would get a flat tire; there was also an old tree that, when you looked at it at sundown, you could see a body hanging. Down a back road there was an old slaughterhouse where the Ku Klux Klan would send people through the meat grinder.

We were on our way.

G. told us the turn off from Cortez Ave. was at a Jesus billboard but we weren’t sure if we’d passed it. I looked up Spring Hill Cemetery in my GPS but it wasn’t listed in a search for “cemetery”. So I did the next best thing: I looked up “funeral home” and called the first name I found. A woman answered the phone and I explained that we were photographers looking for Spring Hill Cemetery, but she couldn’t help us, and I thought that was that. But a few minutes later her husband called. He gave us more specific directions to the African-American Cemetery and explained that the place had been under police watch lately because some kids had been there graverobbing. He also told us that, if we were photographers, we had to visit the Lykes cemetery, just across the way. It was the family cemetery of an old local family who’d made a fortune in, depending who you talked to, cough drops and cigars. The funeral director told us that the cemetery had remarkable stonework and that as photographers we had to see it.

I was given good directions to Lykes Cemetery but when we found Spring Hill Cemetery I completely forgot everything the man had told me.

cemeteries of hernando county

When we first stepped out of the car we immediately felt this negative energy all around us. The place was recently desecrated, after all, and between that and the roaming bands of drunk teens, any ill will from residents living or dead was understandable. But we weren’t there to disrespect the dead. As we started to take pictures the heaviness in the air lifted. The area around the cemetery was long neglected and became dumping grounds for trash and old furniture – and, as G. hinted, bodies. But we were there to remember the dead and document their final earthly resting place. We’d like to think they were happy to have us visit. So happy, in fact, that despite going down one wrong road after another, trying awful dirt paths that may have led to the slaughterhouse, we could not find the Lykes cemetery. It was as if the residents of Old Spring Hill didn’t want us to go there.

cemeteries of hernando county