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Civil War - if you can't be witty, then at least be bombastic [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
kyle cassidy

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Civil War [Jun. 24th, 2013|07:50 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |Marilyn Manson: Great Big Wide World]

I've been running through the Woodlands Cemetery for a while now, it's been built up to encourage people to use it recreationally, and it's been used as a picnic spot for more than a hundred years, it's oddly not odd to go to the graveyard and spend time outdoors. Anyway, there's a jogging course at Woodlands that's almost exactly a mile and it's fun and lovely and you sometimes have the whole place to yourself and you sometimes see people and dogs. A few weeks ago I was running far from my house when I met a woman parked in a car along the side of the road just taking in the scenery, which was ... trees. Living in the city you crave and appreciate a forest, anything green that doesn't have a little fence and a bag of mulch around it is special. We got to talking about how marvelous it was to find a big patch of woods to either run through or just sit in your car and watch and she told me that down a particular path and to the left a certain number of yards there was a Civil War graveyard. How interesting I thought. So this afternoon trillian_stars and I rode out bikes out there in search of it.

There's a large cemetery the bulk of which is made up of the tombs of wealthy Philadelphians from the 1800's. It's been abandoned and forgotten for years and it looks like a movie set. Far away from everything else there's a fabulous forgotten beauty about it. There's a scene in Logan's Run where Logan and Jessica escape from the domed city out into the outside -- neither of them have ever been there before, and they walk along forgotten roads and eventually into a building covered in vines that we recognize as the Lincoln Memorial. It always impressed me as a kid, that something important could be forgotten.

The cemetery is overgrown, like something from an Indiana Jones movie.
You may Clickenzee to Embiggen

The manner in which the cemetery has been taken back by nature for some reason comforted me in the thought of being buried somewhere -- that eventually everything looks like this -- well, either some company buys the cemetery, moves the monuments to some place far away and churns up your bones while building the foundation to an office building, or everyone forgets about it and nature just takes it back -- that's the thought I find some solace in, that you are just part of a cycle and however important you are and however big a marble marker you leave, eventually vines and wind and rain will forget you from the face of the Earth.

Then over a hill, there's a row of stones in perfect rows.

The civil war graves. You can click here to make it larger.

Amid everything broken down and consumed, the civil war graveyard is immaculate.

The civil war graves. You can click here to make it larger.

It's my understanding that while the rest of the cemetery was forgotten, this area was maintained by the federal government who sends someone out to make sure that the grass is cut and that there's a flag next to each tomb. There's also something oddly reassuring about the thought of some autonomous bit of government bureaucracy, that somewhere there's always been a guy at a desk with a sheet of paper that says "231 graves, middle of the woods" with some survey lines and someone is dispatched every however many days to make sure it's kept up while the forest takes everything else.

Graves. You can click to make the image larger.

Trillian's brother is a Civil War scholar and reenactor. He tells me that many states have registries of all their soldiers on line so you can find out who people were. I'm often curious about people when going through a grave yard -- who was this person? but for some reason it seems even more compelling when you know that someone died abruptly -- that they didn't get the opportunity to become a Burgher of Calais, that whatever their potential was, it was cut short.

There were also some familiar names from Pennsylvania and I wondered of the relationship of people to people. It's a weird web that interconnects us all.

This thing actually exists. It's some sort of gate, but with a building attached.
You may Clickenzee to Embiggen

The path is pretty rough and bumpy, lots of hills and the growth is so thick that you get disoriented very easily, not sure what direction you're traveling in, or where you came from. It was paved at some point in time, but I don't know how long it takes for grass to take over a road. 50 years? More? Less?

You may Clickenzee to Embiggen

We came home, I went running, worked on some covers for things that seem important now but won't be remembered in a hundred years.

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[User Picture]From: sheilagh
2013-06-24 12:46 pm (UTC)
We have this in the Austin area: http://www.eloisewoods.com/ It's lovely!
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[User Picture]From: moon_chylde
2013-06-24 02:26 pm (UTC)
Cemeteries are my favorite places to walk the dogs. There's very little traffic, it's quiet, and there's always something interesting to look at.
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[User Picture]From: ladycelia
2013-06-24 02:29 pm (UTC)
Rather a glorious location.
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[User Picture]From: smithla8
2013-06-24 03:06 pm (UTC)

Now I'm homesick

Lovely photos of a wonderful discovery. History seems shorter here in the Pacific Northwest.
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2013-06-24 03:14 pm (UTC)

Re: Now I'm homesick

our history goes back nearly three hundred years, which makes the english types jealous.

(not really)
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[User Picture]From: coffeeem
2013-06-24 03:11 pm (UTC)
Story. Idea. OWW!*

*sometimes they just hit you like that.
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2013-06-24 03:14 pm (UTC)
I demand that you name the gravedigger Cassidy! or at least the wood-elf!
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[User Picture]From: coffeeem
2013-06-25 04:48 am (UTC)
You got it!
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From: mtn_hermit
2013-06-24 03:18 pm (UTC)
Reading this, and seeing the pictures, put me in mind of Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah. It's not as overgrown, as it's not abandoned, but it has a sense of stately age that Woodlands also seems to.

John Muir liked Bonaventure enough to camp out there while waiting for money to be sent to him from home. :)
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2013-06-24 03:28 pm (UTC)
Woodlands is meticulously kept, but it's old, so there's a bit of patina on everything, and the occasional split monument. It's beautiful and ... as you say, stately.
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[User Picture]From: nagandsev
2013-06-24 03:30 pm (UTC)
Beautiful, peaceful, and inspirational--all at the same time--thank you for sharing! The Logan's Run scene--absolutely!!!
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2013-06-25 05:44 pm (UTC)
you should probably head to our place first.
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[User Picture]From: schquee
2013-06-25 01:45 am (UTC)
I was looking to see where it said US, or Union soldiers, then realized of course it wouldn't say that, that is the default. I guess it's only confederate graves that specify the soldiers were CSA.
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[User Picture]From: howlokitty
2013-06-25 05:07 pm (UTC)
I'm beginning to feel like my next trip should be to Philadelphia to take the "Kyle Cassidy Rockstar Lifestyle Tour."

Take a run through a local graveyard! Bike to an overrun Civil War cemetery! Enjoy dinner with notable science fiction authors at Buca de Beppo! Watch Trillian Stars in her latest role then travel to the local opera house for a moving rendition of a stalwart classic! Finish it off with cuddles, nori and a diabetes shot with Roswell!

Edited at 2013-06-25 05:07 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2013-06-25 05:45 pm (UTC)
sounds like a great way to do it!
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From: wrayb
2013-06-26 01:58 am (UTC)

cool beans

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From: steanne
2013-06-26 03:08 am (UTC)
so much ailanthus! i only learned yesterday that the woodlands was the source of the infestation.
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[User Picture]From: dichroic
2013-06-26 05:00 am (UTC)
My ecology professor at Penn, Dan Jansen, used to say "Pennsylvania is trying to turn back into a forest."
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[User Picture]From: chamisa
2013-06-26 11:20 pm (UTC)

Have you heard of a website called FindAGrave.com? I just checked and there are a ton of photo requests for internments at that cemetery. If you are so inclined to photograph and post individual graves to that website, you'd make some people very grateful. I've used that site for my own genealogical research and have been very thrilled when there is already a photo of the grave of my ancestor or when someone fulfills a request I've made for a photo.

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