TSGS Cruiser Blog

Saturday, May 26, 2012

"Cemetery Geek!"

What in the world is a "Cemetery Geek?"

Last Sunday, I attended the Oak Hill Cemetery Walking Tour led by Dennis Au, Shawn Dickerson & Chris Cooke.  A newspaper reporter was asking several people why they came out for this tour.  When she asked me that question... I could not think of a good answer.  My thoughts were in the notion of who wouldn't want to be in this tour!  As a genealogist, most of us love cemeteries, as we do courthouses, libraries, genealogy web sites, family photos and records of any sort.

I told the young reporter that as a genealogist I could not help but be here... I guess I am a "cemetery geek!"  I could not think of anything else to describe why I came out for this tour!!!  Well, that got into the newspaper story, in fact it was the first paragraph about the tour.  I was listed as a "self-proclaimed cemetery geek."    http://www.courierpress.com/news/2012/may/21/oakhill-tour-line-p/?print=1  

Being highly interested in science, math, etc., the term "geek" (to me) is basically a positive adjective of a person's in-depth interest or involvement in a particular subject.  I have always been interested in seeing these little monuments (often called grave markers) to people's lives since I was a kid of about 12-13 years of age.

My mother was an avid fan of Memorial Day, a time to remember our American soldiers and family members.  Mom would make Dad drive her around to all of the cemeteries with family to decorate their graves with flowers.  After a time, it was hard to tell who wanted to do this the most.  Of course, us kids were dragged along, too.  I started to get curious about all of these graves... who were these people to us.  That and a 5th. Grade English assignment to make a 4-generation family chart got me interested in my family history.  Shortly after I got out of service, my father died which made grave visitations a little more important to me.  The next Memorial Day and many years afterwards, my younger brother Don and I took turns taking Mom around to decorate the graves.  Mom's Aunt Maggie Wood decorated graves, too.  Don & I began putting out flowers, too.  Then, suddenly in about 2 years time - Mom, Aunt Maggie & Don were no longer with us and there really was no one else alive to decorate the graves or know where most were buried.  So, this became my primary "duty!"  We decorate my wife Becky's family, too.  Becky has a birth & adopted family to remember.

I have become a volunteer for a web site called "Find-A-Grave" to take grave marker photos to post online for others to be able to see their family's markers.  On this blog I have a feature called "Tombstone Thursday" that I post interesting or unusual grave markers that I find from time to time.  I even have a photo album on FaceBook called "Cemetery Hopping" (going from one cemetery to another & posting photos from each!).  Yesterday, I told my friend Jill Brinkley who works at Alexander Memorial Park Cemetery that we were out cemetery hopping decorating family graves... she said you are always going to cemeteries!  I guess she is right!

I guess cemeteries have become a part of my life... I was once even in charge of Evansville's City owned cemeteries - Oak Hill & Locust Hill.  In the Sons of the American Revolution, I travel around with other members dressed in Revolutionary War uniforms serving in Color Guards to honor the graves of Revolutionary War Soldiers.

OK, it appears that I am a "cemetery geek!" for sure.  I do think of the term as a good thing.  Writing this blog, I thought I should check to see what the definition of a cemetery geek might be.  I went to Google to search for the term.  What came up was that news article about me being a cemetery geek... there was no other use of the term except in describing me!!!  I may have coined a new term.  One related to genealogy, at that!  How many of our readers might be able to proudly call themselves "Cemetery Geeks?"  You would not have to be as extreme as me to qualify.  There are at least 3 qualifiers, however.  One you must know that the word "cemetery" does not have an "a" in it and that (two) you must actually go to a cemetery to see all of its glory from time to time.  Three, you must feel strongly about cemetery vandalism as being one of the lowliest things people can do.  Don't be shy or modest, please let me know if you are or want to be a cemetery geek!!!

- Compiled by JGWest (AKA: Cemetery Geek)


Deborah Andrew said...

Oh my gosh John you have described me to a T!

I was just telling my husband the other day about how I have love cemeteries for as long as I can remember. When my parents and I would go on vacation or just visiting family in the country, during the trip if I saw a cemetery off the road, I would ask if we could stop there. My mother would get so aggravated and say, "why we don't have anybody buried there!"

Coincidentally on the same topic, two days ago I was reading about the horrible situation of burials and reburials that went on in the Eastern Cemetery in Louisville for so many years. Not having any city burials in my immediate family, I had not really read much about this. The people that were responsible for that should be...I don't know something very bad!

I also hear a title for a new blog in this. Cemetery Geek - tells all about local cemeteries and how to preserve them. Excellent.

Keep up the great work and make the rest of us "geeks" proud.

Tri-State Genealogical Society said...

No doubt, Deborah that you meet all of the criteria to be a "cemetery geek!" :) I have a very strong feeling that there are thousands of us in this genealogical world. I will strive to do my best to make cemetery geeks everywhere proud! ;)

John G. West, Cemetery Geek