Sunday, April 19, 2015

New Orleans' Metairie Cemetery wanderings and Anne Rice

“But the sky was never quite the same shade of blue again.”
                  ~Anne Rice, The Vampire Lestat

Continuing with my Metairie Cemetery experience, I’ve noted some of the incredible mausoleums but I should probably take a step back to explain how I arrived at the cemetery. For starters, the Canal Street streetcar line ends just across the street from Greenwood Cemetery which I only photographed from the outside and did not enter because of time. I have a flight voucher that expires in the next few weeks and I desperately need to decide on a place to travel. I’m tempted to return to New Orleans this summer just so that I have a bit more time. With the conference, meet up’s, and rushing out to cemeteries the day of giving my conference paper, I really didn’t have much time to meander and take in the city as I did last year. That’s okay. Each travel experience is different but I do wish that I had more time to take in these cemeteries.
When you’re facing the entrance of Greenwood Cemetery, if you look to the left you’ll see Metairie Cemetery in the distance. You actually have to cross the entrance (and on ramp) of Interstate 10, to arrive at the pedestrian entrance near the front left corner of the cemetery. You basically enter near The Army of Tennessee, La. Div. tomb. I was with two other members of the American Culture Association Cemeteries and Gravemarkers group and as soon as we figured out how to enter the pedestrian entrance, the woman in the group (I can’t recall her name) basically said, “If we separate, I’ll see you later at Odd Fellows Rest”… and after that, we didn’t see her again.

I walked around with a gentleman named Francis who teaches at an Art college in Connecticut. He also really wanted to see Metairie Cemetery so we made a great pair. He was friendly and chatting… and for the most part we wanted to see the same things. He was also very much interested in seeing those connected to the Civil War which I felt that I needed to do as I mentioned in my last post. RVA Street Cred—“I saw where Jefferson Davis was originally buried” :p

Aside from this, I really wanted to see the Anne Rice tomb which holds her late husband Stan Rice because well… do I have to explain to this audience?!? My teen years included the resurgence of her Vampire Chronicles and I was every bit of a fan back then.

When we arrived at the Metairie Funeral Home which is at the very front entrance of the cemetery, Frances and I walked right into a service. We were both pretty hot and sweaty from making it that far so we clearly looked a little tourist-y. You can imagine what the heat had done to my make-up. Surprisingly when I used the restroom, I could tell that my eyeliner was still in place and not melted down my face.  I’m sure this happens all the time and one of the workers was kind enough to take us to the front entrance to pick up some maps.

Jefferson Davis was the first trek… but after that, I had my heart set on the Anne Rice tomb.

Each time I’ve come to New Orleans, I walked by her former homes. This excursion was more walking by her future home. Mr. Rice’s tomb reads “permanently sealed” so unless Ms. Rice decides that her eternal rest is going to be a departure from her previously plans of RIPing with her hubby, this will be where she comes home.

It’s a little too easy to be critical in a place like Metairie where the mausoleums are on such a grand scale. By Metairie standards, the Anne Rice tomb (as the cemetery calls it and it’s noted on their People of Interest map—one of three maps with important places in the cemetery to visit) is quite modest. It’s a white mausoleum with four columns and two grand flower pots in the front. The door has some stunning scroll work but you actually have to be quite close to it to see the detail. It is made up of roses and a vine with a basic cross in the middle. Inside the tomb is a stain glass window—blue background with a bouquet with various red, purple, pink, white and yellow flowers. The vase resembles the actually vases that flank the tomb. Below the bouquet is the name Rice. Above it reads, “May perpetual light shine upon them O Lord”. The inside of the tomb appears to be white marble.

To the direct right of the Rice tomb is the Brown mausoleum which includes stain glass windows on the side but a more modern and perhaps whimsical typeface of their family name. To the right front part of the tomb is a feminized angel (that my fella actually says appears to be somewhat sexualized pose).

The angel is clearly female with breasts and a navel (which my fella also wonders why an angel who was never born needs a navel?). She is somewhat scantily clad and appears to be in a fainting pose throwing her arms back against her detailed bird-like wings. I’m no Art Historian so I don’t have the vocabulary for the sculpture. There is a great deal of detail in her wings, her hair, and her floral crown. The stain glass window on the side of the mausoleum that faces the Rice tomb appears to be two Magnolia blooms. There are also Magnolia trees around the tomb. The entire surrounding appears to be much more landscaped. Either way, these are some gorgeous tombs.

Finally on my list of must-sees was one of the most popularly photographed crying angel. It was such a sunny day that it was difficult to take pictures through the glass without getting reflections.

There were some surprises. While I expected to see the pyramid, I had no idea that I would walk right into the Henry Egan Ruined Castle which looks like, well, a ruined castle. Since this post is going a bit long, I’ll write about that in my next post.

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