November 17, 2010

St. Louis Cemetery Number 3

While I was in New Orleans, I went with Nick and his grandparents to look at a cemetery. Not in a creepy way or anything, but while here in Utah the graves stand up a little bit, modern cemeteries in Washington have tombstones that are flat to the ground (for the most part), and I wanted to see some that were a little fancier.

Nick’s grandmother often works as a tour guide in New Orleans, so she was able to tell me a lot about how graves like these work. It’s quite complex. Because the city is below water level, traditional graves did not work, so residents began creating above ground tombs.

Entire families may be entombed in each grave, however there are usually only one or two shelves. New caskets are put onto the shelves. When someone else dies, the casket (or the older of the two) is emptied into the base of the tomb. By this time the remains are usually very well deteriorated. The new casket is then placed on the shelf, and the grave is resealed.

In some cases, people are entombed in walls along the edges of the cemetery. These are less expensive for those with less money, but they also serve as a holding area for caskets that cannot yet be placed in a family grave.

Because the stones literally create a brick oven, the tiles can become warped or broken. A good deal of money goes into the upkeep of a larger family tomb.

One really neat thing was that there were lots of French inscriptions, even for relatively newer inscriptions.

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