Jer and I wandered through the Lone Fir Cemetery the other day. I like cemeteries. I make up stories about the inhabitants, I look for names I know, and such walks tend toward thoughtful contemplation. Nice places. Lone Fir has huge trees, lovely foliage, and many interesting graves (about 25,000 according to Wikipedia).
Lone Fir has the additional advantages of being one of the oldest cemeteries in the city (the first burial was in 1846 — very early for the Oregon Territory) and it’s an easy stroll from our house. With 30-plus acres of ground, it has provided lots of room for creativity of the burial sort.
We found the Hawthorne site, Hawthorne Boulevard being two blocks from our house and now a punk-trendy shopping area of the city. Hawthorne is also the name of an early eastside medical doctor, who had his clinic and quarters for the insane near what is now Hawthorne Boulevard.
Jer noted that many of the taller stones in Lone Fir had pointy tops; we speculated that this might go back as far as some ancient euroasian monuments, but it was sheer speculation. We also saw a stone that was planted, calliwampus, on its side, embedded into its base. Someone didn’t want rectangularity to rule his eternity. We saw Tibbetts and Tryons and a host of other Portland place-names, originating from families with monuments here.
Newer monuments keep appearing, as there are still sites remaining in the cemetery. I’m particularly moved by the slavic-language headstones, which tend to be more elaborate than the contemporary English ones, with cyrillic scripts. Since the Russian immigration to Portland is fairly recent, the graves are more recent and so stand out more among the mossy spaces. The photos make them all the more poignant. However, some sights, even in the face of such mortality, make the wanderer snort. The photo below shows one that set me off. All I could imagine was that the gravestones had escaped — or contrarily, were guarding those from within from getting out.
A rag-tag row of sentries, where even the fence is tipsy. –June