Along with besties C, E and N, last weekend I took a walking tour of Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta’s Grant Park. Founded in 1850 and the first public burial ground in the city, the sprawling forty acre cemetery is a historic Atlanta landmark and the magnificent final resting place of more than seventy thousand souls.
The garden cemetery is resplendent with ancient oaks and magnolias, juxtaposed just under the bustling city skyline. For years after it opened it’s gates, the cemetery was a popular destination for Sunday carriage rides and picnics and served as somewhat of an art museum for the city’s residents.
We strolled tree lined paths with our small tour group, remembering some of the city’s best known sons and daughters and those that helped to shape Atlanta into the great city that it is today.
In addition to it’s famous (and infamous) residents, Oakland houses stunning examples of funerary art, of the likes of which, sadly, are scarce today.
Monuments are steeped in a symbolism and captivating in a way that just left me speechless at every turn of the winding bricked paths.
Most striking of the handsome headstones all about Oakland were the ones that told stories of grief and tragedy so substantial that I could hardly bear to read the inscriptions.
The stones in Oakland tell the story of our city’s history – whites are buried apart from blacks and Christians apart from the Jewish. Some are remembered in extravagant expression with others left nameless in Potter’s Field. A handful of Union Soldiers rest amongst a bevy of Confederate brothers and those that were undoubtedly unique in life also seem characters in death.
Since I was a child I have been intrigued with cemeteries (I was the weird student that used to do school projects on Savannah burial grounds.) I am drawn to touch the headstones and find my mind wondering at not only the people buried in them, but at the throngs of loved ones that come back to remember – or don’t. Hence, this Sunday morning stroll was a much anticipated and highly pleasurable outing.
And, in keeping with the theme of the day, after our tour we headed just across the street to Six Feet Under for a delectable seafood lunch (get the pun?) and loads of our customary girly gossip.