The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Oakland Cemetery

When I was a little girl – my dad and granddad would get up in the dark – THE DARK – to drive off some place to go fishing.  I could not believe it – who in their right mind gets up in the dark unless it is to go to a job?  (And I have thoughts about getting up super early for jobs too – but I'll keep those to myself)  Well – this morning I arose before sunrise and was on the road while it was still dark.  We were on the way to a friend's house to pick her up and head to Oakland Cemetery for a field trip shoot.  Yes I said "we" – my husband was along for the fun of it – a nice bonus and he was driving!

Oakland Cemetery is very near Zoo Atlanta – you take the same exit on I-20 to get to both places.  When you exit the highway onto Boulevard, instead of turning in the direction of the zoo – you go in the opposite direction.  Take a left on Memorial Drive.  Make a right onto Oakland Avenue.  You will see the brick entrance for the cemetery on the right.  The cemetery is not incredibly "car friendly."  The roadways are narro w and the brick-lined ditches can dip down on either side of the road.  When we entered this morning the gentleman at the booth asked if we were with the photo group – one of our members had already arrived!  He also instructed us to pull over as far as we could to park.  There is a small gift shop/visitor's center area there.  It was not open today.  It looked like it would be fun to browse sometime though.


There is so much to see there I can't think of where to begin.  OK – as soon as I stepped out of the car I saw signs showing you where to head to see the resting place for Margaret Mitchell.  I also noticed headstones in many shapes and sizes.  There were huge (and some not so huge) mausolea in a variety of styles in just about any direction.  Some of these permanent residences have all the best – including stained glass from Tiffany.  The mausolea and other stones were decorated with a variety of symbols.  Inverted torches – simply a funerary symbol – means that the life is gone but the soul (the fire still burning) lives on in eternity.   If you see an inverted torch with no flame that means just that the lifetime is over.  On the same monument where I saw the crossed, inverted torches – I saw a death's head.  This is a skull, head, or face that is winged.  There are many forms of this symbol found internationally.  I saw a lot of urns and found that to be curious – cremation was not popular (or was it done at all???) in the nineteenth century.  The draped urn was a popular ornament for a grave in the late 1800's.  Rarely (if at all) during that time did they ever contain ashes – yet they are there on many stones and other monuments.  I see on the Oakland website that there ar e some urns at the cemetery 6 feet high – bronze – made at the Gorham Factory in New York.  I mentioned a draped urn – some stones we carved with just a drape – no urn – over the stone or monument.  Another symbol spotted was a crown with a cross – this is a Christian symbol or it can also be tied to the Knights Templar.  I saw carved on two headstones a hand pointing up – also many of the statues there had a hand in the air and a finger pointing to the sky.  This is an indication that the soul has risen to heaven.  Treestones can be found around the grounds – treestones (headstones that look like a log or part of a tree trunk) were popular from the 1880's through the turn of the century.  Treestones can also mark the grave of a member of Woodsmen of the World.  Treestones were also available in the Sears & Roebuck catalog. Flower carvings adorn many stones in the cemetery – I spotted Easter Lily, Passion Flower and too many roses to count.  There were many crosses also – flower-adorned crosses, crosses with vines, crosses in the hands of statues, Maltese crosses, etc.  Angels were all over – big, small, and in between.


All the years I have lived in the Atlanta area, I never have visited the Oakland Cemetery.  It is a marvelous place!  You cannot expect to see all of Oakland during any one visit.  I plan to return for a walking tour.  The cemetery is 88 acres – and in the city of Atlanta!  On the grounds of Oakland is the second highest point in the city – 1070 feet above sea level.  Many well-known people are buried there among the 70,000.  I have already mentioned Margaret Mitchell.  Bobby Jones and Maynard Jackson are just two more of the notables who reside at Oakland.   Next Sunday the cemetery is celebrating Victorian times from noon to 6p.m.  October 26 & 27 there will be after dark tours for a Halloween treat you won't forget.  You can find out just about anything you would want to know about Oakland prior to going there by visiting their website


Oh and the getting up early thing – I do it more than I care to admit (especially in winter with those darn short days).  I love to get up before sunrise when we are at the beach – walk down to the sand and wait for the sun to come up (with my camera of course).  There are always a handful of people and a couple dogs up and out at that time of day.


The Oakland Cemetery shoot was a group activity for the Fayette Photo Club.  The Club meets twice a month and plans shoots like this occasionally.  The next planned shoot is to another graveyard of sorts – and auto graveyard!  If you are interested in this shoot, the club or both – email me.  On the contact page at my website site I have a link to send me an email. 

No comments:

Blog Top Sites

Arts Blogs