Good Morning on this Fine October Day. Always at this time of year, I am drawn to cemeteries. The impulse has deep roots. I am of German, Irish, and English extraction and the ancient Celts celebrated a holiday called Samhain (pronounced Sowain) when the gap between the plenty of summer and the dark deprivation of winter made an opening between life and death and people communicated with their lost loved ones.
South of the border, people celebrate The Day of the Dead around this time of year as well, maintaining the connection between living loved ones and those who have departed for the mysterious realm after death. They suggest visiting the graves and visiting the loved ones there, a cup of tea, a glass of wine, a little conversation, some flowers - at home, photographs arranged in a little shrine to remember.
All Hallow's Eve - as with many folk traditions, when the Christian religion conquered the predecessors, for better or worse (the better is the stopping of sacrifice of animals and people to hungry gods - the worse is the burning of alleged witches and the Spanish Inquisition not to mention persecution of other religions) anyhow, they overlaid Samhain with All Saints Day to celebrate and honor the martyrs to the faith and the saints.
Anyhow, I make my pilgrimage to Harleigh Cemetery to see Walt Whitman's tomb and also to honor the old art of cemetery landscape design. If you haven't been to Laurel Hill, you should go, if it is too far, go to Harleigh, a very beautiful place for your final rest. Harleigh is over a hundred years old. located on the Cooper River. I take Haddon Avenue over 130 into Camden and just befor Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, the gates to Harleigh can be seen Other luminaries on the fine color map they gave me at the visitor's center include some names I don't know as well as those I do:
Colonel Sewell, Mother Bloor, Senator Baird
To make a fun day of it, you may want to stop for lunch at the Cooper House on Cooper River in Collingswood, then walk around the river, and visit the cemetery afterwards.
By the way, there are still sites available if you haven't booked your final resting place yet: 856-963-3500, address 1640 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, Cmden, NJ
By the way, I already visited Peter J. Murphy's grave on Labor Day`and over the summer I visited my Lyons family graves in Beverly. Another nice cemetery near Collingswood is off Collings Ave, make a left if traveling towards Rt. 130, just past the railroad tracks, at the old Railroad Station (another interesting building to admire) and with the little one t-he=room Champion School on the right side. Here are the graves of the early Irish Quakers who settled the Newton Creek area, as well as the graves of soldiers from the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and up. I found this one through the excellent article by Hoag Levins a the Camen County Historical Society web site.
Happy(?) Samhain! See you on the trail, the path or alongside a body of water anywhere in South Jersey! Jo Ann