Sunday, January 8, 2012

Who were you?

I've been spending yet more time than usual at Forest Lawn. For the last few months, I've fallen back into running, and on the weekends-- or the odd weekday I am not at work before the gates close at 5PPM-- I take my run through the winding, gorgeous hills of the cemetery. A blessing and a curse for me, I often stumble upon striking monuments I have never seen before, and unfortunately am quite a distance away from my car and camera. Some of them I come back for after my run, and most I remember exactly where I found them and am able to take some photographs.

 For a few weeks of running, I kept seeing the top of the Parker Monument, making a mental note of it, and (quite frankly) forgetting about it. Not until I came back with my camera for a stone nearby did I take a second, true look at this monument-- and realize that it is one of the more arresting pieces of statuary in Forest Lawn. I see many standards of monument art, and fall in love with them. Tropes such as the heavenward pointing finger, the books resting on stone trees or even the four angels such as those who adorn the Pratt Monument, are repeated, sometimes often.

 I've never before seen anything like the Parkers' statues. A full, likely male figure-- suited and cloaked-- with a faded stone face, stands atop a base. The large stone bust of an older woman, Laura Parker (1803-1888) decorates the front, and to the sides on her left and right, two differing male busts stand (appearing to float), with halved profiles. The detail on the statuary of the base has beautifully stood the test of time. There is a small stone, impossible to read without a rubbing, which stands in front of the monument. The last fully legible date, under Laura's, name and likeness, is 1888. Unless the monument was erected much later than the last known death, the stone monument is, at the youngest, 123 years old.

 Part of my affinity for cemeteries is, as I've likely written about here, the beauty that is the living's tributes to those who have been lost. I wonder what it was that caused the Parker Monument to be made. Was it Laura's idea? Or one of these men-- her husband? Brother? Father? Sons? The family set up of a father, mother and two sons would appear the most logical-- but noticeably absent are any spouses the sons may have had. I wonder who the artist may have been, in 1880's Buffalo, NY, who had the original idea of the halved profiles. I wonder who these people were; what they did, what may be remembered beyond the stone, and what is not. Some of the stones I find at Forest Lawn are readily available on Goggle, with articles or at least brief summaries with some information on these long ago people. Not the Parkers. Searches on multiple search engines have returned only information on another person with the surname of Parker who is interred in the Red Jacket monument, and an entry in a publication from the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society which mentions a Laura Parker, who's father was a general in the Civil War. The time frame certainly fits-- and, possibly, it may be the general standing on top of the stone. But I have found nothing concrete to confirm these Parkers are the same Parkers from the stone in Forest Lawn.

 I will keep looking, and post any updates I may find.

 View my Photo Album of the Parker Monument here: 

Forest Lawn, Parker Monument, 12-03 & 12-10-11

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