I was watching Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil last night and this morning I stumbled on John Muir’s A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf. In both books Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery figure prominently. It must be a sign. I found this passage which, to me, perfectly describes why Bonaventure draws so much attention. From John Muir:
Bonaventure is called a graveyard, a town of the dead, but the few graves are powerless in such a depth of life. The rippling of living waters, the song of birds, the joyous confidence of flowers, the calm, undisturbable grandeur of the oaks, mark this place of graves as one of the Lord’s most favored abodes of life and light.
Like many family historians, I’m fascinated by cemeteries. We have several beautiful ones here in St. Augustine, but even with the many photos taken and books written about Bonaventure, it’s almost impossible to describe its beauty. John Muir came very close. See for yourself.
This is neither a tombstone nor a local cemetery, but an absolutely gorgeous photo showing yet another reason why Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery gets so much attention. The original photo is one of thousands of cemetery photos found at Flickr. This photo was taken by user drspam who doesn’t appear to have an interest in cemeteries except for their beauty. That doesn’t matter because those of us who are fascinated with graveyards also get to enjoy his efforts.
There are many taphophiles sharing photos at Flickr along with those who photograph them for their beauty. We can take advantage of all of them to support our research. You’ll find dozens of groups – including Cities of the Dead and Southern Cemeteries – containing both artistic views and documentation views of their subjects. Try a bit of exploring and see what you can find. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Johnny Mercer was born on this day in 1909. The Savannah native is known for his beautiful music, writing Moon River, Hooray for Hollywood and Days of Wine and Roses along with dozens of others. Thanks to the magic of YouTube, we can still enjoy Johnny’s singing – this time with Bing Crosby.
And here’s the view of the Mercer plot and Johnny’s grave at Bonaventure Cemetery.
The Mercer family plot at Bonaventure Cemetery. Courtesy Angela de Marco at Flickr.
Johnny Mercer bench at Bonaventure Cemetery. Courtesy Phae at Flickr.
Johnny Mercer grave at Bonaventure Cemetery. Courtesy RobNewm at Flickr.
We recently enjoyed a brief visit in Savannah – an opportunity to do a bit of research and visit the cemetery where most of my Savannah Barrett ancestors are buried. I also wanted to visit the Vietnam Memorial in Emmet Park – not only because it’s a beautiful memorial but also because it was created by Oglethorpe Marble and Granite. It just so happens that they are part of my Savannah family.
A huge piece of Georgia marble sits in the middle of a reflecting pool. It has a map of Vietnam carved on its face and a pedestal at the top with an upturned rifle, empty boots, helmet and dog tags. A five-pointed star of marble embedded in the cement fans out from the pool with the insignia of each of the branches of service carved at the points. A large block of marble (shown here on the right) lists the names of the 105 area residents who were killed or missing in the war. To the east, American and POW/MIA flags fly perpetually at half-mast.
Like many military memorials, the funds to create it are donated by citizens, civic and fraternal groups and businesses. Rings of engraved bricks are also embedded in the cement to show who helped make this memorial possible. A spirit must have been guiding my feet as I walked over to get a closer look at the bricks, for when I stopped and looked down, I was surprised to find myself standing directly over a brick with my father’s name, W H Barrett, engraved on it. Actually, it should not have been so surprising. My father served in the U.S. Merchant Marine and during the Vietnam War he shuttled fuel from the Persian Gulf to Cam Rahn Bay. So, now I have an even closer attachment to this beautiful memorial.
Details: The map was carved in place from three pieces of Georgia marble with a total weight of 91 tons. An overhead photo at the Oglethorpe Marble and Granite site shows a better perspective of the carved map.