As today is the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death, it is interesting to compare the elaborate ceremonies of today, with the understated manner in which a handful of fans sent flowers on August 5, 1972 on the tenth anniversary of her death.
The press photo reads:
8/5/72 Beverly Hills, CA. Motorcycle escort officer Si Mason of Westwood, Calif. looks over the many flowers sent to actress Marilyn Monroe at the Westwood Memorial Cemetery. 8/5 ten years ago, marks the anniversary of her death. The 36-year old actress was found dead in her Brentwood home of an apparent overdose of sleeping pills. (UPI)
Some Selections From “Here Lies” A Book About Graveyard Epitaphs
This book from 1900 whose full title is: Here Lies: Being a Collection of Ancient & Modern, Humorous and Queer Inscriptions from Tombstones compiled and edited by W.H. Howe, published by The New Amsterdam Book Company contains 197 pages of fascinating epitaphs, mostly from Great Britain. It was originally published in England in 1891 as Everybody’s Book of Epitaphs.
It’s difficult to believe that hundreds of years ago people were this creative about their own demise. Probably in many cases it was the friends and relatives of the deceased who were responsible for these final words etched in stone. Do you know what you would want written as your epitaph?
Here are a few of the better ones from this out of print gem:
Here’s a Remnant of life, and a Remnant of death,
Taken off both at once in a remnant of breath;
To mortality this gives a happy release,
For what was a Remnant proves now the Whole piece.
Mr. Edward Pardon (a bookseller)
Here lies poor Ned Pardon, from misery freed,
Who long was a booksellers hack;
He led such a damnable life in this world,
I don’t think he’ll ever come back.
Continuing the journey through historic Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn the next set of photographs concentrates on some names from history, some remembered today, others forgotten.
DeWitt Clinton has many things named after him in New York including a town, a high school, and a park. Known as the father of the Erie Canal, Clinton was a ten term mayor of New York City. Under his stewardship in 1811 the grid plan for the streets of New York City were instituted. He was also a United States Senator and Governor of New York State. Clinton lost the Presidential election of 1812 to James Madison by less than 10,000 votes and 29 electoral votes.
Clinton was moved to Green-Wood in 1844, sixteen years after his death. Continue reading →
A Different Way To Spend The Day In New York, Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery
When I’m asked by people visiting New York what are some of the things they should do while they are here, my answer usually results in incredulous looks. “Go see Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx or Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.”
Most people will never visit a cemetery unless their relatives are located there. Even then, most people dread going to a cemetery. This is a mistake from a cultural standpoint. Cemeteries, especially historic ones like Green-Wood, possess landscape and architectural treasures that you cannot see in any museum. They also contain a history told in granite, marble, bronze, slate and limestone through an array of monuments, mausoleums, crypts, sarcophagi and tombstones of the permanent residents of Brooklyn. As Green-Wood describes itself on its web site:
Green-Wood is 478 spectacular acres of hills, valleys, glacial ponds and paths, throughout which exists one of the largest outdoor collections of 19th- and 20th-century statuary and mausoleums. Four seasons of beauty from century-and-a-half-old trees offer a peaceful oasis to visitors, as well as its 560,000 permanent residents.
Girls Chase A Boy to Give Him Birthday Kisses… and He Dies
Woodlawn Cemetery Is The Final Resting Place of George Spencer Millet Who Had One Of The Strangest Deaths In New York’s History
There is a book called Woodlawn Remembers: Cemetery of American History by Edward F. Bergman (North County Books, 1988.) The book is mostly comprised of beautiful full page color and black & white photographs of monuments, tombstones and mausoleums with one page of text describing each person profiled. The cemetery is located in the northern part of the Bronx and is on my shortlist of unusual places I recommend to visit in New York.
The book is fascinating to be sure. It covers many of the interesting and important historical figures at Woodlawn. But one story not mentioned, is the life and death of George Spencer Millet (misspelled as George Millitt by The New York Times in the story at the end of this article) who is interred at the cemetery.
Millet’s story is briefly recounted in Permanent New Yorkers A Biographical Guide To The Cemeteries of New York by Judi Culbertson and Tom Randall (Chelsea Green 1987.) This book contains photographs too, but has more detailed biographies than Woodlawn Remembers. Permanent New Yorkers also covers the entire New York area, not just focusing on the two most famous New York City cemeteries, Woodlawn and Greenwood. I highly recommend both of these out-of-print books.
It was February 15, 1909 and Millet must have been a very good looking boy, because when the girls he worked with at The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company found out that it was his 15th birthday, they all insisted on giving him a kiss. Continue reading →