I’m not even sure where to start. A few weeks ago I discovered J. W. Ocker’s OTIS (Odd Things I’ve Seen) blog. Then I bought his book Poe-Land: The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allan Poe. The travelogue of the author’s year-long journey to monuments and sites associated with the author even won a 2015 *Edgar Award*. Because I live in the Greater Richmond area AND I even lived in Massachusetts, and I have also been to Poe’s Baltimore museum, I thought it would be fun to read the book. Plus, I really enjoy travelogue-style books and the author’s voice is more like a friend showing you the sites.
On his blog, I stumbled upon the post Skip the Washington Monument: Rock Creek Cemetery and decided that I was going to make a trip there…since my university isn’t that far away.
So today after my morning meeting (three hours in for an hour ½ meeting with three hours home), I was determined despite the morning downpour to make it out to Rock Creek Cemetery. I found a cemetery map online via the cemetery’s parish website (follow the previous link) as well as a list of famous grave markers and famous residents include a Chief Justice, diplomats, generals, a mayor, Alexander Graham Bell’s father, Wonderbread “baking innovator”, author Upton Sinclair which I didn’t get to see because I didn’t make it to that section, and Rosalie Mackenzie Poe the little sister of E. A. Poe.
“St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Rock Creek Cemetery is Washington’s oldest church and cemetery” reads the sign. The sign then points to the front of the cemetery. I had taken the metro to about one mile of the cemetery where I walked through a public park where I was hit on by a guy whom I could have easily been his mother. It was the kind of walk that I haven’t had in twenty years or so. Exit the metro, walk in the direction of your map that you can’t take out of your bag because it will pinpoint you aren’t from the area and inappropriately and uncomfortably be told how sexy you look. Yeah, yeah, yeah… it was 90 degrees and sunny. I was not looking sexy but sweaty… because I used to live in the city I know to keep walking (no need to tell him to go Fuck Himself because there was no one around who could come to my rescue and he was bigger than I am). Walk and talk… don’t be rude and change the subject. In fact, I hijacked the conversation because we were walking (or I was walking and he was following me to the point that I wouldn’t let him stand behind me) by some community gardens. He asked my name. I didn’t lie. What was the point? He told me his name was John. So John was asked if he liked sunflowers (because that was what was growing) if he gardened, where he worked, why he was walking the way I was, where he was going, if he enjoyed the hot weather, if he thought it was going to rain today…. You get the drift. I, in my Southern-as-they-come charm, would not let him continue flirting or asking any questions. He was interviewed and when we reached the edge of the park where the roads met, he went one way and I went the other. Bonus: I’m a fast walker considering I’m usually shorter than most folks and my dad is not Southern so we have never strolled; we walk! Of course then I received no fewer than six catcalls and whistles from work vehicles. Where the hell was I? Aside: my hair was in two poofs on my head so I resembled Minnie Mouse more than anything else… and I wore a plain black dress that was almost to my knee… and I always wear a bitchy face because that’s what my face does! Anyhow, this is supposed to be a post about a cemetery but after reaching the cemetery I actually had to walk the entire parameter of it just to reach an open entrance. “This better be worth it,” I muttered to myself. And it was!
Rock Creek Cemetery was first established in 1719 as a churchyard and was later (1840) expanded as a public cemetery to serve the city. The expanded area was landscaped in the rural garden style so that it was not only a cemetery but a public park as well. My first mistake was noting that the cemetery is 86 acres with rolling hills. I immediately thought that Hollywood Cemetery is 130 acres with rolling hills and I walk that all the time so 86 acres seemed like no big deal. I forgot that I’ve been walking Hollywood since I was a teenager so I know the cemetery like the back of my hand. I know when to speed up a hill and when to slow down. I didn’t have any of this landscape awareness when it came to Rock Creek. I was already a bit tuckered from racing-there-from-the-metro- with-concerns-that-I-could-be-knocked-on-my-head-and- left-in-a-ditch journey (and it didn’t even seem like it was a bad area! It looked pretty suburban.) I was not prepared to cover the entire cemetery… and I did not. I saw what I really wanted to see and much more. There were parts that I missed too. What I had wanted to see was the Clover Adams Memorial which I looked for but couldn't find...which was disappointing because it is huge! Now I just read that it is surrounded by shrubbery and out of view from the surrounding gravesites. Bah! Next time.
|Sculpture at a distance! (left of Force marker)|
Since I’m tuckered from today’s adventures, I’m going to only focus on one statue because she scared the crap out of me. I swear standing face-to-face with her, it looked like her eyeballs moved! I’m not kidding. I took some pictures and thanked her (like I always do to inanimate objects within the cemetery whispering thank you and excusing myself) and backed away. That’s right… I sort of backed away and then walked and over my shoulder it appeared that she was reaching for me to come back. She was that creepy.
The creepy statue in question is a public artwork by American artist Gutzon Borglum created in bronze in 1909. The sculpture depicts Mary Magdalene emerging from an alcove after Jesus Christ has risen from his tomb. This was a tribute to prominent Washington banker and tapestry collector Charles Matthews Ffoulke. "Rabboni" (the Hebrew form of rabbi) was surveyed as part of the Smithsonian Save Outdoor Sculpture survey in 1993.
|Look how real her eyes appear! :-/|