Ad Summam:

  • Founded: 1846
  • Acres: 200
  • Design: Garden Style
  • NRHP: Yes #77000007
  • Topo: Perfect blend of rolling/level/hilly terrain
  • Neighbors: What neighbors… it’s seriously quiet here!
  • Gear: Flip flop approved

I was presented with the opportunity to travel to Swan Point quite by accident. My offspring needed to make an appearance in the far reaches of Massachusetts for job training and, the day prior, the oldest cancelled. Of course, little sister didn’t drive, so I begrudgingly made arrangements to take off the work day and then steeled myself to mobilize my tired bones at what, in my family, we lovingly refer to as the “ass-crack of dawn”.

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… is paved with good intentions. That’s what they say, at least. I wonder, though, if the fire tinged cobblestones on the path to damnation include only the most grandiose intentions. Or, do the small, likely insignificant ones reside there, as well?

This blog was meant to be many things, and but one singular thing, simultaneously. A guide, of sorts, to my fellow crawlers; and a cathartic outlet for me. It doesn’t appear to have ended up being either one… because life sometimes just gets in the way of living.

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Well, clearly I can do nothing but hope it does lol. I have been beyond remiss in keeping JAUT updated, but it’s not totally without reason. Amid quite a bit of craziness on the home front over the last year and a half or so, I’ve undertaken a personal project that I hope will hit this page in the near future.

NH, my home state, has within its borders hundreds and hundreds of burial grounds. I’m endeavoring to compile a list of of those that are open to public access. The little ones, the big ones, and everything in between. If I’m successful at all, the fruits of this random labor will result in a series of files by county or town, with addresses and coordinates. (Okay, it’s not totally random… I’m suffering a case of the winter doldrums and crawl withdrawal and fully intend to hit the ground running when spring comes. Budget restraints mean my plans to travel well outside my comfort zone this year have been placed on the back burner… so it’s time to uncover the rest of NH’s charms lol).

Wish me luck, my friends. Until I see you again… crawl with care.

Yes, it’s true… I’m a bona fide, officially-elected-by-the-peoples, Cemetery Trustee in my home town. The reasons I chose to run for the position are many and varied; not the least of which is my, obvious, love of them. I find, though, that the longer I serve the greater my appreciation is of, for lack of a better term, the other side of the coin. For, not only do I relish the role of crawler, but I have a keen insight into the view OF us and our kind held by many a Trustee, Superintendent, or family member. You’ll notice I ask of my readers, often, to “crawl with care”. This lends itself to far more than the obvious “be careful so you don’t get hurt” warning. No, it is also akin to the notion of do no harm, for even the best intentions can sometimes go awry.

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You may recognize the lovely lady that follows… or maybe not given her lovely make over! Indeed, this is the vine choked statue from  my Bellevue post. I did return over Labor Day weekend, and was tickled pink by what I found! You all remember how dismayed I was at the neglect and vandalism, well,  the City of Lawrence put a small group of prisoners to work cleaning it up. Kudos to them is all I can say. No, uber-kudos! The place looked amazing, and they must have worked themselves like dogs to get it done.

I, for one, thank them wholeheartedly :)

Ad Summam:

  • Founded: 1841
  • Acres: 85
  • Design: Garden Style
  • NRHP: Yes #98000543
  • Topo: Fairly equal mix of hilly and level… something for everyone
  • Neighbors: Not even remotely sketchy
  • Gear: Flip flop approved

So, here at long last, I present one of the first cemeteries that has the potential to require a multi-day crawl. Lowell Cemetery followed closely on the heels of the nation’s first  rural / garden-style cemetery, Cambridge’s Mt. Auburn (another blog unto itself… patience gentle readers). At an impressive 85 acres, one could arrive to discover one of two scenarios… broad expanses of vacant, unused space or a somewhat more dense offering of monuments to explore. Lowell is comprised of the latter and definitely requires one to gear up for the trip. I’m talking water, snacks, a pack of smokes if you need them, extra batteries, a pretty good amount of time to linger… and a small trinket or token (more on that later). My daughter and I spent easily four hours or so meandering the winding paths, and I’m fairly certain we STILL missed a good amount of goodies.

What we didn’t miss was the Lion…

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Although taphophiles everywhere do share a distinct set of characteristics, each is possessed of individual preferences, quirks, and the like. Some care only to stumble upon exceedingly worn bits of slate bearing centuries old dates beyond the walls; while others seek to bear witness to nothing save the most magnificent examples of modern artistry. There are those whose adventures must be shared with a grouping of like-minded seekers; while others wish only the solace of their own company along their quests. Some enter bearing worn bits of charcoal and rustling sheets of paper while others rely on a lens to capture each nuance; still others enter with palms laid bare, seeking to leave with nothing other than the residual effects of the quiet aura within. To some, only the small, forgotten burial grounds hold any interest; while others care only to lose an entire day meandering along garden-style, Victorian paths. To some, it is their Monday Night Football – inescapable and fervent fodder for the water cooler; to others, it’s naught but a closely guarded secret.

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Ad Summam:

  • Founded: 1840
  • Acres: 20
  • Design: Garden Style
  • NRHP: Yes #352595
  • Topo: Fairly level sections/slight rolling areas/steep inclines to plateaus
  • Neighbors: Not so very sketchy
  • Gear: Flip flops NOT recommended

Valley Cemetery, located in the heart of Manchester, came to be through the generous donation of a substantial parcel of land to the city from the Amoskeag Company. In keeping with the times, it was laid out in sprawling, rural style replete with walking paths, stairways leading to the (surely) prized summit areas and strategically placed resting areas for the living. Like Bellevue, it must have been a glorious site (and sight) in its heydey, as can be glimpsed in the following, circa 1920 photograph. Today however, like Bellevue, it has fallen victim to economic hardship, disinterest, neglect, and the overall hazards of big city life. Graffiti and vandalism are all too present; the horizon is marred by the unsightly encroachment of the living, and the solitude is often interrupted by the raucous behavior of the local youth who appear to, sadly, have been uneducated in the most basic of values… respect.

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“It is overgrown, encroached upon by a sagging swath of vivid green just barely parted down the center by the continual passage of one, small traveler. You tread carefully, avoiding the largest of the  pebbles that jut harshly from the powdery sand and velvety grass — pebbles poised to thrust their sharp edges into bare, warm weather soles like so many glinting knives. Thick, blistering air weighs upon you, a sweltering cloak, as the hot July sun draws rivers of sweat from your flushed face. The woods, fragrant with pine, are quiet, yet never silent. Instead, the white noise of a million invisible insects hovers just beyond the ear as if waiting to be interrupted, if only rarely, by the distant cry of an unseen bird.

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Welcome! I'm Jezebel and I'll be your cicerone for this particular taphophilic journey. Shall we head out?

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