Friday, March 25, 2011

Walkin' the East Side #6: Veterans Cemetery

I'm getting a bit slow with these!  There is actually a lot of image processing that goes on.  Not a lot of tweaking, but as you know if you take photographs on anything more than a 100% casual basis, a lot of raw material goes in to the few usable pictures you wind up with.  As always, the fun starts after the break, but as per my usual, here's a random photo from the walk that isn't really interesting enough to include but amuses me anyway:
Is it just me, or does my daughter's new Ken doll bear more than a passing resemblance to Patrick Swayze in the old SNL Chippendales skit?

This is the inside of the old Friedrich building which has appeared in my WtES posts a few times already.  I did not go inside (though I will admit a great desire to); I just put the camera up to the window and zoomed in.  Happy Column is happy!
 I am not really prone to trick shots, but I will make an exception in this case!  The Friedrich building again, this time flat against an amazing sky.
Our primary destination.  Until very recently, in spite of having grown up here & even lived in this neighborhood before, I had no idea San Antonio was home to two National cemeteries.  What sets them apart from one another I honestly do not know.  I believe this one is older, and it is much, much smaller, so it may well be simply that Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery was started after this one filled up, though it looks like there's still some room here.

 You can see here that there's not quite the usual symmetry one expects of a national cemetery.  I think this is actually fairly typical of the older ones, but I've only experience of the two here in town.

 Some folks have very long lives that situate them uniquely across history.  During his adult life he saw the invention of the radio, the automobile, the television, the airplane (and saw each invention become ubiquitous)...He lived through not just the war he served in but three more, not to mention the Great Depression, the start of the Cold War, the beginning of the Space Race, the development of penicillin and the Polio vaccine...Truly amazing.

 Before this, I had never seen a husband and wife buried separately in a national cemetery.  At Ft. Sam, my maternal grandmother shares a grave (and headstone) with her third husband.

 There were several Medal of Honor winners buried here; this is one of a whole row of them.  Of course heroism comes from all corners, but the idea of a hero quartermaster I must admit is somewhat amusing.  His record is a single sentence long: voluntarily brought water to the wounded under fire.  A little more digging shows that this happened at Little Big Horn.

Most of the markers were pretty much what you would expect from a national cemetery.  Some of them were like this.  Anyone know the significance?

 Well, this is a fellow whose family wanted him to stand out!  It's a bit hard to tell from this size of photograph, but this is not a case of a double headstone, it's just crowding the next grave over.

Another intriguing stone.  There was no other info on it, and no one else with the name Bailey anywhere nearby.

I found this the most intriguing grave there.  It says "Sacred to the Memory of Ellen Douglass consort of (not my emphasis) Lieut. Samuel H. Reynolds US Army, who died at San Antonio, Texas January 19th, 1859; in the 24 year of her age".  Who was she, beyond the obvious?  I haven't a clue, but judging by this I must assume she died in childbirth: another grave at that cemetery (which I did not find) was of one Douglass E. Reynolds, son of Samuel H. Reynolds, whose birthday was 1-19-1859.  It is obvious from this and from her son's name that Lt. Reynolds must have cared quite deeply for her, which raises the question of why she was his consort and not his wife.  Perhaps it is due to the fact that my daughters attend Frederick Douglass elementary school, but I wonder if perhaps she was black, and they did not marry because they couldn't.  (Being half-black wouldn't have been a huge thing for the younger Reynolds; from what I'm seeing it appears Lt. Reynolds went to West Point, so he most likely wasn't short of money or influence.)

One of the more ornate headstones there.  According to a search I did a while back, this particular tombstone is a symbol of the Woodmen of the World.  Doesn't it look impressive?  I had no idea what the organization is; apparently it's an insurance company.  Really.  Talk about anti-climactic...

 Well, the life of Gen. John Bullis certainly befits a tombstone like the one he has.  And yes, it is he for whom Camp Bullis was named.

Shortly after our arrival at the gates of the cemetery, we heard brakes squealing and a boom.  I would have gone to see if I could help, but I had no idea where it was.  Should have known it was on Commerce.  Commerce and Monumental, to be exact.  It's a bitch of an intersection to be sure--one lane splits off Commerce to turn on to Monumental, and there's a slight rise, stop signs for the smaller street only, and, well, people driving on Commerce tend to speed.  A lot.  This was taken from quite a distance with the zoom, 'cause I try to avoid getting in anybody's way.

These next few photos are from City Cemetery #5.  This is the smallest of the City Cemeteries in the area, sandwiched in between the national cemetery and an even smaller, nameless cemetery (the only way I know they're separate is because of the fencing).

This obelisk is for the Lewis family.  On its own, not interesting at all.  But it combines with this:
This is also the Lewis family.  This is the back half of a rather large family plot, which was all fenced/walled in (there was also a mausoleum) and locked up tight.  Impenetrable...but for the fact that this fence only came up about to my waist.  I actually picked Bobbie up and put her over it with the camera, but she didn't come back with anything useful.

"Interesting only in conjunction with another photo" could actually be the theme for this cemetery.  It's an odd one.

These two photos also fall into that category.  The first one of this pair is uninteresting (to me, anyway) without the second.  The two tombstones above are from the Shook family plot; it intrigued me because there is a Shook up on (I think) the near north side, almost in downtown.  I assume these folks lent it their name; it's not a common one.  What I found truly interesting, though, was this second stone.  It is an itty-bitty thing, and off in the back corner by itself, but I have never seen anything like it.  Aunt Sophie must have been indispensable indeed.

Continuing with the theme...
 See anything unusual about this family plot?  It's actually fairly visible even in this picture, but unless you know what you're looking for you may well miss it.  So here's a photo from within the enclosure:

A blank headstone.  There were actually quite a few of these.  Easily half of the stones were just blank.  I haven't a clue why.

Here are more of the blank headstones.  There is so much implied drama in cemeteries!  Was there a falling out of some sort?  Did they merely  move away?

Next up: St. Michael's Catholic Cemetery.  (These cemeteries were mostly small, so yes we visited several.)

 What's better than one crucifix?  Two, in close proximity!  Neither of these was a tombstone, by the way, just a sort of decoration.  The angel kneeling at the foot of the background Jesus was in quite ill repair; that blob near its butt is actually one wing.
This is a tombstone.  Of...Y'know, I don't have a freaking clue.  I don't speak Polish.  Or Czech.  Whichever this is.  I think Polish, though.  Though there are a lot of Poles in near South Texas (St. Hedwig is Polish), not too many of 'em bothered settling here in San Antonio.  I think every last one who did, though, is buried in this cemetery.
 There were quite a few iron crosses in this cemetery.  This was one of the more interesting ones.  I haven't the first clue what it says.

When I first saw the stone in the foreground, it appeared as though it had once had photos and perhaps someone had popped them out.  But no, they're just recesses for relief-crosses.  All of the names in this cemetery are just exactly this ethnic.  Except one woman named Blanche.  (Note also that there's another one of the iron crosses in the foreground.  I've seen a few of these in each cemetery, but this one had the most.)

Requisite "Tower of the Americas in the Distance" shot.  Dunno when I'll get to putting it up here, but the next one of these walks has a fantastic close-up shot of the Tower.  As you can tell from the photo, it started to get a bit late, so we turned around and headed home, back through City Cemetery #1.  That place is huge, by the way; it spans more than a city block, so you'll be seeing it again.

I found this quite intriguing.  A very small enclosure, for a sole grave.  The fellow buried there is one Weston Spies Gales, who was apparently a society toff of the time; a Google search of his name brings up a couple of NY Times wedding announcements which appear to be contemporary to him (though it's hard for me to tell, as for some reason I can only get a brief glimpse of the PDFs).  He's listed as a "possible CSA veteran," though to be honest I doubt it--he was from New York, after all.

 Remember this grave from this post?  I said at the time I'd never seen another like it.  Well, I found another like it.  Sort of.  I'm not entirely certain why I didn't get a picture of the full grave, other than it bore more resemblance to a rubbish pile than a grave.  I presume that in pristine condition it appeared much like the other one, but some dickwad thought it would be a good idea to smash the decoration all to hell.  This does, however, salve my curiosity about what those shells were--actual shells, apparently, backed with concrete.  I still don't know the significance.

Now, this building is another you've seen before.  In the very first of these posts, in fact.  This is an across-the-street shot, and from this distance it looks rather like a run-of-the-mill abandoned building; it gives no clue that it's merely a shell at this point.

I'll also freely admit I'm tickled by the whole "Electric Mattress Factory" thing.  Now, were the mattresses themselves electric?  Or merely the factory?  (I know, I know, common sense dictates the latter...)

Next walk includes the outside part of the Institute of Texan Cultures and Hemisfair Park.


Peter D said...

I didn't know our grandmother had been married three times, I thought it was twice. Shows what little I know of our family.

Sabra said...

You are more likely to be right than I. I'll e-mail you with the lurid details I was told.

Lisa said...

Oh my should put this on Facebook. So freaking funny.

Peter D said...

Also, as far as the Medal of Honor goes, in the olden days of the War Between the States, etc. it was much easier to be awarded with the MoH. Such as picking up the flag after the guy carrying it had been killed and carrying it yourself in the battle.

Bruce said...

Ellen Douglass DID marry Lt. Samuel H. Reynolds. The term "consort" was often used in lieu of "wife" at this time. She was the daughter of a fairly prominent TN-TX family. Reynolds was a West Point graduate.