Friday, May 22, 2015

colorful tombs in New Orleans

Ahhh, back from vacation and there’s no place like home (clicks heels). But post-vacation melancholy has kicked in and I’m moving about like a slug today… and coughing. Seriously Virginia allergies! Oy! I felt great in New Orleans but pollen is different and I suppose I’m a little bit allergic to home. Speaking of green…

There is much to say but I cannot get my mind off the light green tomb in Lafayette Cemetery. But let me back up a bit. After a bit of research, I learned that there is a tendency in some cemeteries in Louisiana to paint the tombs in pops of colors. Not everyone likes this idea and in fact in 2011 a Terrebonne Parish (in the southern part of the state), Councilman Alvin Tillman wanted to propose an ordinance against tombs considered “too colorful” for some people’s tastes. There have been complaints about the brightly colored (pink, green, blue and yellow) tombs.  On this trip, in Lafayette Cemetery there was even a bright blue statue of the Virgin Mary on top of one of the tombs and there was also this beautiful green tomb. Other than that, the cemetery seemed consistent with its colors.

2014 trip with Save Our Cemeteries tour guide
Last year when I visited New Orleans, I saw an "oven vault" in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 for Arthur Smith, a man who comes by and paints his family tomb blue... A flamboyant guy walked by and said "because it's his mother's favorite color" and snapped his fingers.

While family members are responsible for caring for family tombs in New Orleans, there are some who might not understand how to care for a tomb or a grave marker. In fact, Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau had her tomb *vandalized* after someone painted it with pink latex paint in December 2013. Even if this was done with good intentions, latex paint is potentially harmful to tombs because it does not allow moisture to escape. As Professor Z and I know all too well about NOLA moisture, you need breathable fabrics, cosmetics and paint!

Some pink paint is probably what led to the final straw in restricting visitors to St. Louis #1. Since March 2015, the Archdiocese of New Orleans requires that cemetery visitors must be accompanied by a licensed tour guide.  For now, this only applies to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 but eventually it will be expanded to include other cemeteries throughout the city. This saddens me because while I love a good structured tour, I also like to take my time taking pictures and notes. Of course without such rules and in a place where vandalism is high, one must respect these decisions. After all, we want the cemeteries to be around and in somewhat good condition for future generations to enjoy. 

While this post is about New Orleans cemeteries, these concerns aren’t too far from home. Within about a mile from my home and just a couple of days before the New Orleans vacation, I took a WoodlandCemetery tour. Woodland was founded in 1862 as a burial site for Confederate dead and guide mentioned that there are people who upon locating newly marked graves of Confederate soldiers while dig up the graves for artifacts. What in the world, people!

Basically, I have much to blog about regarding the Woodland Cemetery tour and the New Orleans cemeteries not to mention the trip in general.

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