Folk Custom: GravesheltersThursday, January 14, 2010
There's a fantastic bookshop in downtown Montgomery called New South Books on South Court Street. Love the neon sign:
Few American cultural landscapes are as intriguing as that of the Southern folk cemetery.---A material culture haven, the folk cemetery possesses artifacts of commemoration and memorialization that provide a powerful statement about local sentiment toward and respect for the dead. The folk burial landscape is in part characterized by hilltop location, scraped ground, mounded graves sited on an east-west axis, highly personalized and emotive forms of decoration, and cults of piety (annual rituals such as graveyard work day, decoration day, and homecoming which bring the community together in remembrance of the dead). Among the more expressive of the decorative artifacts is the graveshelter, a house-form structure of small to modest proportions commonly erected over individual graves.
...but it's also wonderful to see the way the relatives have taken this up - and the last burial here was in the '70s - and kept it decorated and tended to in such a careful and loving way.