Twelve Pictures ’17

Back to posting on January 2, 2018, or so. Like last year, I’m going to wind up the year with a leftover picture from each month. This time, for no special reason, no people, just places and things.

Champaign, Ill., January 2017Charlotte, NC, February 2017

Kankakee, Ill., March 2017

Rockford, Ill., April 2017

Muskogee, Okla., May 2017

Naperville, Ill., June 2017

Barrington Hills, Ill., July 2017

Vincennes, Ind., August 2017

Denver, September 2017Evanston, Ill., October 2017Chicago, November 2017

Birmingham, Ala., December 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

Oak Hill Memorial Cemetery, Birmingham, Alabama

At the Oak Hill Memorial Cemetery in Birmingham on December 2, I saw this modest obelisk. It was a surprise.

The carving is a little worn, but still legible.

APRIL 27, 1891

Scattered around the memorial are the graves of former Union soldiers, such as P.J. Crawford of Co. H, 3rd New Hampshire Infantry and Corpl. Chas. M. Robinson of Co. F, 8th Michigan Cavalry.

A surprise, but then again I’m sure a number of former Northern soldiers made their way to Birmingham in the late 19th century, looking for opportunity in the rising industrial city like anyone else. Enough to have a GAR post, and enough for the post to buy a small plot in the cemetery.

The Birmingham Public Library says that “in 1871 the City of Birmingham purchased from the Elyton Land Company 21.5 acres for a city cemetery (later named Oak Hill)… As the first city cemetery, Oak Hill became the resting place for virtually all of the Birmingham pioneers. Although the majority of burials at Oak Hill Cemetery date back before the 1930s, it remains an active cemetery, averaging fifteen burials per year.”

Plenty of other stones are just as old as the GAR ones, and in various states of decay.

The cemetery is marked by mature trees.

And evidence even in early December that it’s still fall in central Alabama.

The cemetery sports some mausoleums, but not many. They were often crumbling.
There are also larger stones, but not that many of those either. As city cemeteries of the late 19th century go, Oak Hill’s fairly restrained in that way.
Oak Hill, like much of Birmingham, has some hilly contour. I think that adds to the aesthetics of a cemetery, especially if there’s a variety of trees and stones.
Other parts are more level.
We didn’t look for anyone in particular, though a number of Birmingham and Alabama notables are buried at Oak Hill. Looking through a list of them, the only one I recognized was Fred Shuttlesworth, who died only in 2011. We didn’t see his grave.

As it happens, Bull Connor — another of the handful of Birminghamians I’ve heard of — is buried at a different large local cemetery, Elmwood. Which is on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Heh-heh. Hope that sticks in Bull’s craw.

Birm-Tex ’17

Before spending the last week in San Antonio visiting family, I spent about 36 hours in Birmingham, Alabama, during the first weekend in December. I went there to visit my old friend Dan, whom I hadn’t seen in about 18 years.
That’s too long, as the Wolf Brand Chili man said. See your old friends if you can, because we’re all mortal. I was also fortunate enough to become reacquainted with his wife Pam, whom I’d only met once, more than 20 years ago.

Dan and I had a fine visit, talking of old times and places — we’ve known each other 36 years — but not just that. He grew up in Birmingham and has lived there as an adult for a long time, so he was able to show me around and tell me about the city’s past and about recent growth as an up-and-coming metro. In this, he’s quite knowledgeable.

I’d heard something about that growth, but it was good to see some examples on foot and as we tooled around hilly Birmingham in Dan’s Mini Cooper, which was also a new experience for me. Not to sportiest version, he told me — he’d traded that one for this one he now drives — but it had some kick.

On the morning of Saturday, December 2, we first went to Oak Hill Memorial Cemetery, very near downtown Birmingham, and the city’s first parkland-style burial ground. Dan told me he’d never been there before. Not everyone’s a cemetery tourist. But he took to the place, especially for its historic interest, and he even spotted the names of a few families whose descendants he knows.

From there we drove to Sloss Furnaces, which, as the postcard I got there says, is “the nation’s only 20th-century blast furnace turned industrial museum.” Iron mining and smelting made Birmingham the city that it is. So it was only fitting that we went to Vulcan Park as well, to see the mighty cast-iron Vulcan on his pedestal on a high hill overlooking the city.

Toward the end of the afternoon, I suggested a walk, and so we went to the Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve, which has 14 miles of hiking trails. More than that, the earth there is honeycombed with former mines, all of which are now sealed. But we got to see the entrance of one of them, dating from 1910.

After all that, we repaired to Hop City Beer & Wine Birmingham, a store that has an enormous selection of beer and wine in bottles, as well as a bar with a large draft selection, where we relaxed a while. Had a cider and a smaller sample of beer that I liked.

Along the way during the day, we also visited Reed Books, a wonderful used bookstore of the kind that’s increasingly rare: owned and run by an individual, and stacked high with books and other things, with only marginal organization. I bought Dan a copy of True Grit, which he’d never read.

We drove through some of Birmingham’s well-to-do areas, sporting posh houses on high hills and ridges along roads that I could make no sense of, twisty and web-like as they were. Luckily, Dan knew them well.

In downtown Birmingham, we also drove by some of the historic sites associated with the civil rights movement, including the new national monument. According to Dan, it would take a day to do the area right, so we didn’t linger. I got a good look at the 16th Street Baptist Church, the A.G. Gaston Motel, where King and others strategized, and Kelly Ingram Park, where protesters were attacked with police dogs and water cannons.

During my visit, I ate soul food, breakfast at a Greek diner — Greek immigrants being particularly important to the evolution of restaurant food in Birmingham, Dan said — excellent Mexican food (mole chicken for me), and a tasty breakfast of French toast and bacon made by Dan and Pam. On the whole, we carpe diem’d that 36 hours.

In San Antonio, as usual, I was less active in seeing things, but one sight in particular came to me. On the evening of Thursday, December 7, I looked out of a window at my mother’s house and saw snow coming down. And sticking. “I’ll be damned,” I muttered to myself.

At about 7:30 the next morning, I went outside to take pictures. Nearly two inches had fallen, according to the NWS. The snow was already melting. A view of the front yard.

Of the back yard.

It occurred to me that hadn’t seen snow on the ground in San Antonio since 1973.

Fairmount Cemetery, Denver

A handy list of “notable burials” at the Fairmount Cemetery in Denver is posted at Wikipedia. So handy that the cemetery web site doesn’t bother with its own list, it merely links to the Wiki site.

Like the list of interred notables at Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock, I didn’t recognize any of them. Like Arkansas history, I’m shockingly ignorant of the details of Colorado history, particularly the names of governors, Denver mayors, U.S. Senators and Congressmen from the state, local judges, newspaper editors, businessmen, ranchers and others. All those classes of achievement are represented by the Fairmount dead.

Some are intriguing. Such as Arlene White Lawrence, (1916–1990), bishop and the third president and general superintendent of the Pillar of Fire Church. Great name, that. Seems that the Pillar of Fire International is a Methodist sect. Methodists have splinter sects? This one goes back to one Alma Bridwell White.

Encyclopædia Britannica on White: “An intense experience of personal sanctification in March 1893 induced White to organize a series of revival meetings at which she attempted to recover the fervour and piety of primitive Methodism.

“Her zealous emotionalism, together with her outspoken criticisms of the decorous accommodations of the Methodist hierarchy, brought the wrath of conservative churchmen down on White and her husband [a Methodist minister], who was transferred to a still-less-desirable pastorate. She eventually persuaded him to resign altogether.”

Ah, those “decorous accommodations.” Not Where Jesus Would Live, she probably believed. Or Wesley either. The couple then founded what would become the Pillar of Fire Church. Arlene White Lawrence was their granddaughter, who obviously went into the family business eventually. The church, headquartered in New Jersey, is an ongoing thing.

That’s a digression from a Denver cemetery, but cemeteries are good places to digress, as you ponder the stones and the names and the dates. I didn’t happen to see Lawrence’s stone, but never mind. There was a lot else to look at Fairmount, founded in 1890 and sprawling over 280 acres.

Fairmount Cemetery, DenverFairmount Cemetery, DenverFairmount Cemetery, DenverFairmount Cemetery, DenverA sizable mausoleum.

Fairmount Cemetery, DenverAn even bigger one.
Fairmount Cemetery, Denver - Eben SmithEben Smith was a Colorado mine baron of the late 19th century. I can only imagine that meant he was a ruthless bastard. Something the position called for.

“Destined to be grand from the start, Fairmount was designed by Reinhard Schuetze, whose success at Fairmount immediately became the talk of Denver,” the cemetery web site says. “He subsequently designed City, Congress and Washington Parks, as well as the areas around the Capitol. Today, Schuetze is known as the father of Denver’s park system.

“Fairmount is home to Colorado’s most extensive arboretum, filled with numerous Champion Trees and one of the largest collections of Heritage Roses in North America.”
Didn’t see any roses, but the trees were all around. Probably some Champions and a lot of also-ran trees too.
Fairmount Cemetery, Denver

Fairmount Cemetery, Denver“The cemetery’s two original buildings, the Little Ivy Chapel and the 1890 Gate Lodge, are designated historic Denver landmarks. And the Fairmount Mausoleum contains one of the largest stained glass collections in Colorado.”

The charming Little Ivy Chapel, with a French Gothic look.
Fairmount Cemetery, Denver - Little Ivy ChapelThe nearby Chapel in the Pines.
Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Chapel in the PinesThe stately Fairmount Mausoleum. The aforementioned stained glass must be those windows, but I didn’t have time for a closer look.
Fairmount Cemetery, DenverI spotted a less conventional grave site, of fairly recent vintage, near one of the cemetery entrances. A young woman named Jessica, 1986-2009, a victim of a modern plague.
Fairmount Cemetery, DenverSculptor Sutton Betti writes about the memorial: “The project was installed… March 29, 2012, and is my second permanent installation in Colorado. Although there is [sic] no figurative elements in the piece, I enjoyed making it, as this is something quite unique from my past work.

“Commissioned by Jessica’s mother, the memorial is designed to show the young woman’s love of snowboarding. Being a snowboarder myself, I was able to understand her daughter’s love of the sport.”

Friday Afternoon in Naperville

Yuriko and Lilly wanted to go to the Aurora Outlet Mall last Friday, and they asked me to drive. It’s a fair number of miles via expressway, but rather than see that as a chore, I think of it as an opportunity to visit somewhere in the far western suburbs, where I don’t go all that often, after I drop them off at the mall (such as the Fox River as it passes through Aurora, or the Fermilab grounds).

My destination of choice this time was Grand Army of the Republic Hall in Aurora, but I found that the building is only open on Saturday afternoons, and the first Friday of the month in the summer. So an alternate was Naperville. A little far to the east of Aurora, but always a worthwhile place to visit.

First stop: the 40-acre Naperville Cemetery, a burial ground since 1842, and still active. It’s between Naperville Central High School (you can see the stadium) and the main campus of Edward Hospital, and also not far from the open air Naper Settlement museum.

According to the cemetery web site, Joe Napier himself, founder of Naperville — and a good friend of Jebediah Springfield, maybe — is buried there. I couldn’t find him among the 19th-century stones, but I didn’t try very hard.

Naperville CemeteryOn the whole, it’s a pleasant cemetery with some history, upright stones, a bit of funerary art, a fair number of trees, and a veterans memorial plaza.

Naperville CemeteryNaperville CemeteryNaperville CemeteryA few blocks away is the Riverwalk Park, part of downtown Naperville. The park is a series of trails and green spaces along the West Branch of the DuPage River, plus some public facilities such as a swimming pool with an artificial beach, all developed in the 1980s. Been a number of years since I’d been there.

Riverwalk Park, NapervilleRiverwalk ParkRiverwalk Park, NapervilleRiverwalk Park, NapervilleThe Aurora Outlet Mall’s a nice outdoor shopping center, but for me a walk along a river on a Friday in June beats it hands down.

Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum, St. Louis

You might call Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum in St. Louis a Mount Auburn-class cemetery, since it dates from the 19th century as a solid example of the rural cemetery movement. Mount Auburn in Boston is the first of the class, dating from 1831. Others are Green-Wood in Brooklyn, Laurel Hill in Philadelphia and Woodland in Dayton, all of which are now surrounded by their respective cities, as Bellefontaine is.

It is a good class. More people ought to visit these places. But as usual, when we were at Bellefontaine on May 26, the only other living souls around were groundskeepers.

The good people of St. Louis got around to founding Bellefontaine in 1849, well outside the existing city, spurred in part by a severe cholera epidemic that year. The further away those bodies were, the better, since the dead helped create the miasma that vexed the living with the likes of cholera. Sure, that wasn’t true, but it must have made intuitive sense in the days before germ theory, and it gave us a roundly beautiful public space.

Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum

Bellefontaine Cemetery and ArboretumBellefontaine Cemetery and ArboretumBellefontaine Cemetery and ArboretumBellefontaine’s web site has a well-written short history of the place, including its founding, the splashy dedication event in 1850, the work of long-time grounds superintendent Almerin Hotchkiss (1816-1903; he still resides at Bellefontaine), and a paragraph about post-Victorian cemetery aesthetics, something I didn’t realize.

“Nearly 50 years after its founding, Bellefontaine was inspired to modernize. Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati and the burgeoning landscape-lawn cemetery design movement ushered in a new aesthetic that replaced ornate and elaborate Victorian fences and hedges with open, cross-lawn views.

“Bellefontaine followed suit by removing hedges, fences, elaborate plantings, and stone copings. Open, cross-lawn views became the more common aesthetic of the cemetery, bringing Bellefontaine in line with modern ideas about cemetery design. The changes also made Bellefontaine appear more open and park-like, creating a more integrated landscape composition than the earlier delineation of individual lots with distinctly defined spaces.”

The cemetery sports a fair amount of funerary art, such as the Hilts memorial, whose angel has spent many years out in the elements.
Bellefontaine Cemetery and ArboretumThis memorial says it remembers the “nobelest, dearest, gentlest and most unselfish of women, Ottilie Stephan, wife of Henry Hiemenz Jr.” (1858-1897). Well, let’s hope so.
Bellefontaine Cemetery and ArboretumBellefontaine is also known for its mausoleums. Such as one for Ellis Wainwright and family.
Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum, Ellis Wainwright“In 1891, St. Louis millionaire and brewer Ellis Wainwright commissioned architect Louis Sullivan to design a tomb for his wife who had died suddenly of peritonitis,” the cemetery tells us. “Sullivan had recently completed the Wainwright Building in St. Louis, which is considered to be the beginning of modern skyscraper design. The mausoleum is a domed cube with simple carved decorations in Sullivan’s signature stylized plant patterns. The mausoleum’s double doors are bronze grills framed by delicate stone carvings. Sullivan’s draftsman for the project was Frank Lloyd Wright.”

The Tate mausoleum is a little different.
Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum, Tate tomb“This Egyptian Revival mausoleum, designed by Eames and Young, was built in 1907 by Frank N. Tate, who at the time controlled most of the theater property in St. Louis. He also owned theaters in Chicago and Buffalo, New York…. The mausoleum has an entry flanked by columns with palm capitals. An Egyptian winged disc is flanked by serpents above the entry, and a pair of granite sphinxes guard the front.”

Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery

Next to North Park Mall, a storied mid-century shopping center in Dallas — and one that’s still thriving — is the Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery. In its way, it too is still thriving.

“The cemetery was created with land donated by William Barr Caruth, an early Dallas settler whose family owned huge tracts of what is now North Dallas,” wrote Moira Muldoon in D magazine in 2010. “Sparkman Hillcrest is officially a Texas historic site now, with graves going back as far as the 1850s, and some of the wending roads through the 88 acres are lovely.”

I saw no graves as old as the 19th century at Sparkman-Hillcrest in late May, but then again I didn’t wander through every part of the cemetery. What I saw was a well-landscaped 20th-century cemetery, marked by upright stones and and a scattering of funerary art, along with many mature trees and bushes.

Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, DallasSparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, DallasSparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, DallasThere’s at least one fountain.
Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, DallasA few graves featured statues, such as these two.

Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, Dallas

A few stones are unconventional. I didn’t take a picture of one that features a large cube balanced on one of its tips, but I did snap this one.
Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, Dallas - King MemorialOne section used well-cropped bushes to mark off family plots. I’d never seen an arrangement quite like that.

Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, DallasOr rounded stones quite like these either.
Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, DallasI didn’t go looking for well-known permanent residents of Sparkman-Hillcrest, but I found a few. Ross Perot’s parents, and I assume a sibling who didn’t live long, had their own section featuring a statue of an angel. Someday, presumably, the Dallas billionaire and third-party candidate will repose there as well.

Sen. John Tower, along with one of his daughters, is at Sparkman-Hillcrest.
Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, DallasHe earned his place in U.S. political history by being the first Republican Senator from Texas since Reconstruction, first elected to that body in 1966. A harbinger of the end of the old-time Solid South and its evolution into the new Solid South we know today. The elder George Bush wanted him to be his Secretary of Defense in 1989, but the very same U.S. Senate said no — also a remarkable event in Tower’s career. In 1991, he and his daughter Marian and 21 others died in the crash of Atlantic Southeast Airlines 2311 in Georgia.

Another resident of Sparkman-Hillcrest is long-time Cowboys head coach Tom Landry.
Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, Dallas

Back in 2013, I saw Landry’s cenotaph at the Texas State Cemetery, along with the grave of that other famed Texas football coach, Darrell Royal. Landry’s buried in Dallas, and his ever-present fedora, done in bronze, helps mark his final resting place.

Pettit Memorial Chapel

Belvidere, town of about 25,000 and seat of Boone County, Ill., is east of Rockford, but not very far, so it’s part of the Rockford MSA. Rather than take the Interstate all the way back from Rockford, we drove on US BUS 20 for a while, then US 20. That route takes you near Belvidere Cemetery, home of the Pettit Memorial Chapel.

Pettit Memorial ChapelThe chapel counts as minor Wright, vintage 1906 (pre-running off with a client’s wife, in other words, and pre-ax murders at Taliesin). The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust says that “the Pettit Memorial Chapel is a small structure on the grounds of Belvidere Cemetery… Emma Glasner Pettit, the sister of William A. Glasner, for whom Wright designed a home Glencoe in 1905, commissioned the chapel in honor of her deceased husband, William H. Pettit.

“The chapel consists of a long narrow porch and an adjoining, rectangular room for memorial services. Raised above ground level, the chapel is accessed via a staircase at the front of the porch, or a set of angled staircases that flank the meeting room at the rear of the porch. Just as he did in his residential designs, Wright included a centrally located fireplace with a broad chimney that emerges from a low-hipped roof.”

We went onto the porch.
Pettit Memorial ChapelThen we went around back. The rectangular room — marked by green window trim — was locked.
Pettit Memorial ChapelThe cemetery looked fairly nice, but we didn’t take any time for a closer look. This is a view from the chapel.
Belvidere CemeteryWe didn’t see William Pettit’s stone. According to the nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places (by an Oak Park architect named Thomas A. Heinz), “Dr. Pettit had the largest practice in northern Iowa, and most of the state mourned his sudden passing in 1899… After proper deliberation as to a suitable memorial, it was decided to build a chapel in Belvidere, his hometown…”

Also in the nomination form: “[The chapel]… is the only structure of its kind in the oevre of [Wright’s] work, the only memorial or cemetery structure ever built.”

The Clan-Na-Gael Guards Monument, Mount Carmel Cemetery

An obscure monument to obscure men fighting for a now-obscure cause. That’s what I found at Mount Carmel Cemetery last week when I spied the Clan-Na-Gael Guards Monument. What a find.

The Clan-Na-Gael Guards Monument, Mount Carmel CemeteryObscure isn’t meant as a pejorative. People besotted with fame might think it’s one, but obscurity is the common fate of almost everyone and everything. Life’s still worth living. In future millennia, we’ll all be as distinctive as grains of sand on a beach. It won’t even take that long. That’s probably as it should be.

Yet we memorialize. In stone sometimes, no doubt since mankind learned to carve. I’m no expert on the psychology of memorials, but I’d guess they’re mostly for those who already remember: family, friends, colleagues, comrades-at-arms, or a public who read the newspaper stories, saw the newsreels, recalled the special bulletin interrupting a radio or TV show. Memorializing for posterity might be given lip service, but that’s all it is.

The front of the Clan-Na-Gael Monument says (in all caps, but that screams):

Erected by the
Clan-Na-Gael Guards
To the memory of their
Departed comrades

The Clan-Na-Gael was, of course, dedicated to Irish independence. Any enemy of the British was a friend of theirs, such as Imperial Germany 100 years ago, though this memorial goes back a little further. I shouldn’t have been surprised to read the side of the memorial, yet I was:

Dedicated to the memory of
Lieut. Michael O’Hara Co. A
Lieut. Thos. Naughton Co. B
Who died in South Africa
While serving in the
Irish Brigade
Of the Boer Army 1900

Irishmen in the Boer War? Yes, indeed. Not just any Irishmen — though I’ve read there were a fair number in South Africa at the time, working in the mines — but Irishmen from Chicago who headed out to Africa for a chance to stick it to the British.

Soon, I came across a digitized version of an anti-British polemic, Boer Fight for Freedom, written in 1902 by Michael Davitt (an associate of Charles Stuart Parnell, and interesting in his own right). In the book, there’s a passage about the Chicago Irish who fought for the Boers:


This small contingent of volunteers was spoken of in Pretoria as the “finest-looking” body of men that had yet reached the Transvaal capital from abroad. They numbered about forty, excluding the medicos and non-combatants, and were all young men of splendid physique and of the best soldierly qualities.

They were under the command of Captain O’Connor, of the Clan-na-Gael Guards, and joined Blake’s Irish Brigade. President Kruger extended a special reception to the company, and addressed them in complimentary terms before they started for the front.
Lord Roberts was on the point of advancing from Bloemfontein when the Chicago men arrived, and they were hurried forward to Brandfort along with other reenforcements for De la Rey, who was in command until the arrival of Botha.

O’Connor and his men acquitted themselves most creditably in all the rear-guard actions fought from Brandfort to Pretoria; Viljoen’s Band Brigade, Blake’s and O’Connor’s men, with Hassell’s scouts, doing their share of fighting in all the engagements during events and occurrences which were well calculated to damp the enthusiasm of the allies of the Boer cause.

It is, however, under trying circumstances, offering little or no compensation for services or sacrifice, save what comes from the consciousness of a duty well performed, that men are best tested in mind and metal, and the work done during that most disheartening time was worth many a more successful campaign fought under brighter hopes for the cause of liberty.

The Clan-Na-Gael Guards Monument, Mount Carmel CemeteryBut what of the memorial itself? I found digitized information about that, too, in The Reporter, a Chicago-based national trade publication “devoted to the granite and marble monumental trade,” the masthead says (man, Google wants to digitize everything).

The October 1914 edition of the magazine tells us that, “Sunday, September 27th, there was unveiled with due ceremony, in Mt. Carmel cemetery at Hillside (a suburb), a Barre granite monument to the memory of Lieutenants Michael O’Hara and Thomas Naughton, who lost their lives while serving with the Boers against the British in South Africa. They were the only ones killed out about 40 Clan-na-Gael guards who went to the war from Chicago.

“The monument is a shaft with conventional bases, die, plinth and shaft, and was furnished by the Moore Monument Co., the price being about $1,800.”

That was fairly serious money, about $43,800 in 2017 dollars. I don’t doubt that the surviving members of the Clan-na-Gael Guards’ foray to Africa got their money’s worth.

Mount Carmel Cemetery, Hillside

Demographic note: a lot more people reside in Mount Carmel Cemetery in west suburban Hillside, Ill., than in the village itself. The cemetery has about 226,000 permanent residents, while the village has only about 8,100 (living) people. But the advantage goes to the living, of course. For instance, they can vote in Cook County elections; most of the dead people can’t.

I’ve known about Mount Carmel for years, but only got around to visiting last week, on a cool and partly cloudy afternoon. The cemetery is thick with upright stones —

Mount Carmel Cemetery, Hillside ILMount Carmel Cemetery, Hillside IL… funerary art —

Mount Carmel Cemetery, Hillside ILMount Carmel Cemetery, Hillside… and mausoleums. In fact, there are a lot of family mausoleums there, about 400, including these three.
Mount Carmel Cemetery, Hillside ILAt Mount Carmel, one learns that the Lord is a Cubs fan.
Mount Carmel Cemetery, Hillside ILOn a hillock in the middle of the cemetery is the Bishops’ Chapel, or Bishops’ Mausoleum, but in full the Mausoleum and Chapel of the Archbishops of Chicago, complete with Gabriel blowing his horn.
Mount Carmel Cemetery, Hillside IL bishops' mausoleum and chapelInside are the remains of seven bishops, archbishops and auxiliary bishops of Chicago, mostly recently Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, who was entombed in 1996. I remember in the fall of ’96 seeing his funeral procession cross the Michigan Ave. Bridge from an office window in 35 E. Wacker, where I worked. Presumably they were headed for Mount Carmel.

The book Mount Carmel and Queen of Heaven Cemeteries by Jenny Floro-Khalaf and Cynthia Savaglio gives quite a lot of detail about the Bishops’ Mausoleum, which was completed in 1912. The cemetery itself was established with the new-born century in 1901, long before the Eisenhower Expressway ran to its north, and probably when Roosevelt Road to the south — not yet called that, but 12th St. in the city at least — was very rudimentary indeed.

“[The chapel] was the brainchild of Chicago’s second archbishop, James Quigley, who oversaw its construction,” Floro-Khalaf and Savaglio write. “He engaged a local architect, William J. Brinkmann, who came up with the simple, Romanesque style that embodies the building’s outline. However, in keeping with the aesthetic tastes of his predecessor, Patrick Feehan, Quigley engaged one of the most famous architects of the day, Aristide Leonori, who designed the building’s breathtaking interior… Leonari executed a design reminiscent of Rome in marble and mosaic.”

A locked door was as close as I got to the breathtaking interior, for which I blame wankers who would do harm to it. But over the door, you’re reminded that Quigley built the place.

Many Italian names dot the cemtery’s landscape. Benedetto, Bernardo, DeVito, DiGiovanni, Felicetti, Gazzolo, Genna, Mazzitelli, Salerno, Serritello, Truppa, Perazzo, Porcaro, Porzio, and Viviano were among those I saw, though there was a fair number of Irish names and others mixed in.

One name I didn’t see was Capone. If I’d done any research beforehand, I would have known where to look for Al Capone. The cemetery doesn’t guide visitors to his grave, unlike the signs posted to direct you to the Wright Bros. at the Woodland Cemetery in Dayton or the Hunley crews in Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston. Maybe some other time.

Other mafioso are buried in Mount Carmel, though not as well known as Capone any more. But their stories are no less lurid. Such as Joseph “Hop Toad” Giunta, who ran afoul of Capone in a particularly bloody way, or so the story goes. I didn’t see his grave, either.

Find a Grave says, “He was a high ranking member of the Capone gang who formed a secret alliance with Al Capone enemy Joe Aiello. Giunta planned to kill Capone and take over his operations, and enlisted the help of Capone triggermen John Scalise and Albert Anselmi with the promise of higher positions when Giunta was in power.

“Capone found out about the plan and invited Giunta, Scalise and Anselmi to a dinner party. During dinner Capone brought out an Indian club he’d received as a gift and proceeded to beat the three men to near death. Capone then allegedly finished the job with gunshots…”