Sunday, December 6, 2009

Out and About in Bozeman - Sunset Hills Cemetary

Sunset Hills Cemetary is bordered by Lindley Park and Burke Park. I found you can access it from the trail at the top of Pete's Hill, so I went in for a bit after some sledding. It's an interesting mix of some of the oldest graves (There's a whole section devoted to the Storys. It's kind of cool.) and some of the newest graves to be found in Bozeman.

While I don't confess to being one of those people who loves to mope around a graveyard, I'm not afraid to wander through one either. I have always been fascinated by some of the more ornate gravestones that you find in older cemetaries. I would probably love to tour New Orleans or some of the older cities back east.

One of the things I always end up looking into is the children's graves. While in college, I learned that naming a child before they turn two is a rather recent tradition in history. The reason being, that the child mortality rate used to be higher, so people would wait to name their children until they were sure they would survive and grow up. That's really hard for me to wrap my mind around. Because it is sad to think of children dying, I distract myself by seeing if they have put a name on the stone. Many times it will be a very general reference something like baby boy johnson or baby girl jones.

The switch over starts to take hold anywhere from the 1910s to the 1920s. By the 1930s, you begin to see names on most of the children's stones. I also find it interesting that in recent years, you will find stuffed animals laying on top of the grave. Like they used to bury pharohs with all their stuff. A talisman of sorts.

Below are a couple of children's graves. I find the shoes really sad. They imply emptiness and a sudden stop. Some of these stones are so old the elements have worn the names and dates away. The lamb on the second gravestone implies innocence. Not only is the grave covered in lichen, the elements have worn away the name and dates. This left me feeling a bit melancholy. The disintegration brings home the image of ashes to ashes and dust to dust in the sense that time will move on and there may be nothing left on earth to show that we were here. While the last image is not a children's gravestone, it is very interesting to me because of the Eastern influence of the architecture depicted on the stone.

1 comment:

Gretta said...

I find old cemetaries interesting. I love reading the inscriptions of gravestones.