This morning I came across this photo. I do not remember the event but I can see Mom’s shoulder (I recognize the dress) and I believe that the woman on the left is my Grammy and I am the child. I must say I’ve seen this photo many times in my life and always overlooked it, in fact nearly deleted it from my files at one point. There is something about the artistry that is pleasing to me, seeing the various ages reading the sign. Today, however, I wondered what the message was and why my father would have taken this photo. I knew that the photo had to be taken in Spring 1969 while we were living in Long Beach, California just based on the time period and that Grammy was with us. So, I blew the photo up a bit to read the inscription, which is when I learned that we were at a cemetery called Forest Lawn. The founder of Forest Lawn, the legend goes, resolved on New Year’s day in 1917 to make a different kind of cemetery. The Builder’s Creed that Grammy and I are reading is his resolution. Here you can actually easily read the creed. Once I read “The Builder’s Creed” I found it fascinating that only yesterday I read in my mother’s blog about New Year’s resolutions and how people don’t follow through or make resolutions.
On LandscapeOnline.com it says:
Forest Lawn Cemetery was founded in 1906 in today what is part of Glendale. There was no forest, and no lawn, only stone tablets, headstones and monuments. The real story began when Dr. Hubert Eaton came west to sell plots for the cemetery in 1912, succeeding to the extent that he was named general manager in 1917. He was now in charge of how the property looked. He was perturbed by the morose climate of the cemetery. He believed in a happy eternal life, and so resolved, in writing (“The Builders Creed”) to construct a “great park, devoid of misshapen monuments-filled with towering trees, sweeping lawns, splashing fountains, singing birds, beautiful statuary, cheerful flowers, noble memorial architecture with interiors full of light and color, and redolent of the world’s best history and romances.”
I found a book, Rest in Peace by Meg Greene that tells how Dr. Eaton turned dying into a successful business. It’s an interesting few pages to read. When Forest Lawn turned 100 in 2006 there were books and articles published. Here’s one from the Los Angeles Times.
As I looked at the Forest Lawn website, I do remember seeing other photographs of those sites from my visit. I know that when Grammy visited us in California we toured several places. As an eight year old I have only memories of mostly being bored but since I was with my Grammy I was happy.
It is also an odd point to consider that we visited a cemetery at all because Grammy didn’t do funerals or cemeteries. Perhaps because of the unique philosophy of this cemetery she was able to enjoy the beauty rather than the sadness.