Saturday, July 11, 2009

Evergreen/ Glen Oaks Cemetery

Warning: This is a sad post.

Vandalism or neglect? Does it matter?

I took these photos in the spring of 2001, in what was then known as Evergreen Cemetery, right across the street from Lincoln Park. It seems to be called Glen Oaks now.

It's on the cusp of Milwaukee and Glendale.

Note how the tree has overgrown the headstone, indicating years of neglect; yet somehow beautiful, like an embrace.

I used to walk the dog there. It's kind of pretty, and full of history and green-ness and quiet, which I like. It was not well-maintained at that time, as you can see from the photos above. I can't find an online reference to the issues (which I am reassured have been resolved. (The task of locating gravesites in the "most troubled" area of the cemetery was resolved in 2000, after a 1998 lawsuit by the state- winning $600,000; headstones were replaced on many of the graves, according to Journal-Sentinel archived articles, but "cold weather may delay that work until spring.")

There also were and still are drainage issues. It seems the land must have been swamp originally, or a tributary of the Milwaukee River runs through it- there is some complex drainage system that oft malfunctions, leaving standing water- after heavy rain events, you will see ducks swimming over the graves. It is mysterious.

It apparently was originally a burial place for immigrants- something that walking the parade in my Statue of Liberty costume and tutoring new learners of English makes me think a lot about. One area contains markers in several different languages- European, Cyrillic, and Asian lettering abound. I don't know if you would consider it a "potter's field" of sorts. Now the families I see there are all African-American. It looks a lot nicer now.

Like I said, it had its problems- similar to this (though not as horrendous) currently going on in Chicago. (DO NOT CLICK THE LINK if you are a sensitive soul!! Although, it was on yesterday's Chicago Tribune front page...)


mikemiller34 said...

African-Americans just can't seem to catch a break--and I hate to say it, but their worst problem is each other.

The River Otter said...

Hmmm. I wish I had a simple answer to your comment, Mike, but I see what is good and bad about "black culture", and some of those things are different than what is good and bad about "white culture" and some of those things are the same(this is obviously a gross oversimplification). But yes, seeing "black on black" harm does make me very, very sad.