Last week, I added five cemetery Decoration Day events planned for this month to the Community Calendar. Scary movies have really given cemeteries a bad rep. This may sound morbid, but I enjoy visiting cemeteries. Is it sad? Yes, sometimes, when I go to the resting places of those I’ve known and loved, but oftentimes I find them peaceful.
I wouldn’t call it a hobby and I’m definitely not a geological graver. (Although, I did take a photo for a TTU grad school professor of Dottie West’s grave for extra credit.) While I was training for my marathon, I would run all around Cookeville and Cookeville City Cemetery was a pretty cut through to my condo.
I’ve even joked with Ross that I’ve discovered names from tombstones that I’ll use for our future children. Wouldn’t that be comical to explain when our kid asks “Why did you name me Genevieve?” To which I’d reply, “You’re named after a stranger’s tombstone who died in 1880. I ran past it one day in my early 20s and thought it sounded lovely.”
In all seriousness, for my husband and me, I believe it’s the history that attracts us to cemeteries. Ross has a double major in history and Bible and I heavily considered archeology until I realized I didn’t have the stomach for dead things.
To us, it’s interesting to visit local cemeteries and stumble across families who lent their names to the streets and neighborhoods in Warren County. Our top four cemeteries to visit are:
• Armstrong, on Northcutt’s Cove Road at Armstrong Church of Christ, Irving College area
• Viola, Highway 131 N, Viola
• Salem, on Salem Rd. off Francis Ferry Rd.
• Riverside, located across from Depot Bottom on Bridge Street
Recently, the topic of cremation has come up in conversations with various family members, who seem to be leaning toward the idea of being blown away in the wind versus buried in a casket. However, after reading the TIME article "What Gets Remembered: How Visiting a Cemetery Can Teach You About History” by Sarah Begley, I’m not convinced.
In the article, Begley interviews Loren Rhoads, author of the book 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die. Toward the end of the article, Rhoads expresses that due to changing traditions when it comes to death, she worries that historians of the future will have a harder time understanding the way we live now.
“Up until fairly recently when there was written records, the things we know about the past, for the most part, we know about because of people who’ve been buried — how they were buried, what they were buried with,” said Rhoads. “And now with the move toward cremation and scattering and all that, we don’t have that, and there hasn’t been a replacement. So we can guess what a normal person ate in the Middle Ages, we can guess what they wore in pre-history, but we won’t know that about us.”
So, I guess it’s just something to think about.
Standard reporter Lacy Garrison can be reached at 473-2191.