The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for March 21st, 2013

impersonal investigator

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Often does a certain conflict arise within me regarding Calvary Cemetery and the various tales unearthed there which are then presented at this, your Newtown Pentacle. On the one hand, vainglory states that by speaking about the departed, and telling some part of their story, the interred are in some way kept alive.

In other cases, and this is typified by a soul chilling email received around a year ago which had the subject line “why is my grandmother’s grave featured in your blog?,” offer credence to my fears that a certain line is often crossed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator subscribes to the bardic viewpoint which believes that a hero or villain is only dead when people stop talking about them, which is why Ghenghis Khan, Alexander Magnus, and Adolph Hitler are immortal.

There is another point of view, of course, which dictates that what happens at the cemetery stays at the cemetery. While researching the Early family, in whom my interest was sparked merely by the centuried integrity of their monument, this waters of this conflict bubbled forth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not much is out there about the Early’s, not an obituary nor a requiem or even a trail of legal bread crumbs. Specialists in Irish genealogy might be able to reveal more than I, but that’s not really the point. From a moral and ethical point of view, should the dead just be allowed to just keep their secrets?

Attempts have always been made, around NP HQ, to present historical necrologies in the best of all possible lights, as much out of respect for heirs and descendants as for the desire to not speak ill of the dead. One attempts to remain cold, clinical, and impersonal when constructing these narratives.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Conflicted, one nevertheless forges on in the attempt to create some sort of visual record of Calvary Cemetery, the great polyandrion of the Roman Catholics in New York City. All that can said of the Early clan is what is inscribed upon the stone- that it acknowledges the memory of the matron Ellen Mc Collough who died at 75 in December of 1893, a 21 year old woman named Rose who died in 1872, and finally the presence of the earthly remains of Mary Early who left the mortal coil in March of 1902.

The monument is a fine piece of carving, which has robustly weathered a century of exposure to the elements.

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