The Architecture of Death

 

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I invite you to appreciate the awesome art of  cemetery entrance gates. These are not just  the simple wrought iron gates, but  ornate massive structures with towers, belfrys, rooms and more.

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German Waldheim Cemetery – Forest Park, Illinois

 

 

They are much more than  keeping people out of the cemetery after closing. During daylight hours they welcome the visitor and establish the character of the cemetery grounds. They create a sense of arrival for the funeral procession, a proper sendoff for the deceased if you will.

I think they speak to us. A massive cemetery gate seems to be a metaphor, a  powerful symbol illustrating our journey from our earthly life into the hereafter, and  even into the presence of God. Theology aside, the architects certainly had a broad canvas to create a strong and powerful focal point at the entrance to the cemetery.  The imposing beauty  welcomed the mourner or visitor alike. Many are no longer with us so let’s look at these amazing works of art.

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Mt. Olive Cemetery, Chicago

 

 

Continue reading “The Architecture of Death”

Flying with the Angels

5175874_1057451358The first was Len, born on February 15, 1927, loving son of Frank and Bronislawa “Bertha”. A native of Chicago, he graduated from Lane Technical High School.  He was a World War II veteran.and drove a CTA bus for a time.  He became a Chicago Police officer on September 21, 1953. In 1954, he was the first patrolman in the United States to use the now famous radar gun and the first to write a speeding ticket having used a radar device.

best irvinThe second was Irv, born on May 5, 1919,  loving son of Irwin and Magdalena, He like Len, was also a native of Chicago,  a graduate of Lane Technical and a World War II veteran before joining the Chicago Police Department in 1948.

.Unless you are a Chicago-born  senior citizen like myself,  you may not have heard or remember  them, but please continue reading. Discover what they really did for Chicago, and celebrate their lives. See why I decided to honor them together in this post.  Continue reading “Flying with the Angels”

The Battered Helmet

Born in Chicago 12 May 1905, he was Nellie O’Boyle’s son, He began his career in the 1928 Chicago Fire Department candidate class.   He served in the Navy in World War II, He was decorated for heroism during a three-day battle against a fire on a tanker loaded with aviation fuel. . he then served just shy of 50 years with the Chicago Fire Department.

He proudly wore a battered helmet, who in a 1971 interview  said “I wouldn’t trade it for a solid gold one. I have worn that helmet since it was given to me the first day I entered the fire academy as a recruit. It was my good luck charm.”

He invented a most innovative piece of fire fighting apparatus, the snorkel.

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Shoot the Chutes!

For just a moment, “ laugh your troubles away”, savoring Chicago’s Riverview Amusement Park. Among others, please thank two bakers and an architect, now buried in our Chicago area cemeteries, Graceland, Oakland Memory Lanes in Dolton, and Eden Memorial Park in Schiller Park.. One of those men  had a special connection to that iconic  225 foot long “Shoot the Chutes” and it’s two creaky elevators.gate

For those of us who are old enough to remember, Riverview was our beloved go-to park for many years.  Once billed as the world’s greatest and largest amusement park, it reigned supreme from 1904 to 1967.

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Mr. Chicago: A Life Well Lived

Although he was not buried in one of Chicago area cemeteries,  you need to meet and celebrate this famous Chicago north side citizen.

He was born about April 1928 and arrived in Chicago in April 1930 as a penniless immigrant. He could not speak English, but yet went on to be a powerful public figure admired by all.

He never ran for office and completely avoided politics and discrimination. He had only one address but never owned a house or drove a car. He was never wealthy, and certainly never a hoarder.

He was however the consummate showman.  Over his lifetime it has been estimated that he performed and entertained some two million people every year, some 100,000,000 during his career. Entertainers, sports figures like Babe Ruth, the music world, and politicians all posed for pictures with him.

Genial, outgoing, treated most everyone equally and with respect. He was a true gentleman, affectionate, honest, smart, fun loving, sometimes sad. He loved people but demanded their respect.

Before you click the “continue reading” try to guess who this great man was. 100 cemetery points if you have guessed correctly, nothing if you have no clue. Continue reading “Mr. Chicago: A Life Well Lived”

The Rest of Paul Aurandt’s Story

He was a larger than life American with much to say. His words went near and far every day until his death in 2009.  His voice now silent, he is entombed in a modest family mausoleum in Section 49 of Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park.

Born Tulsa Oklahoma in 1918 to Harry Harrison Aurandt,  a policeman killed .  Paul found his calling early in Tulsa, and later moved to Chicago to continue his craft. In addition to his chosen profession, he was an avid pilot. . He was a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association, but neither defines his talent that we know.

He woke every morning at 3:30AM in his River Forest home, followed the same daily routine, and then drove to downtown Chicago to his work. There he spoke to all of us in the heartland, serving  enduring family values and the old-fashioned plain talk we once heard around the dinner table. Continue reading “The Rest of Paul Aurandt’s Story”