This is the maiden blog in a series on cemetery experiences I’ve had. It is a reasonable facsimile of an article I had published in the Oct. 2004 issue of Weird New Jersey magazine. In the 8 years I’ve been roaming around cemeteries, the first four were spent shooting angels. I bagged a good number of them by the time someone told me about this great cemetery that flanked the Parkway, near East Orange, NJ. So I made the trip.
They were right. The place was thick with angels. You couldn’t swing a cat without hitting one, as Mark Twain would say. During that visit, maybe in 2001, my head was turned from the saintly to the creepy. New Jersey certainly has its share of creepy, and many of them were here in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.
Surrounded by innercity-ness, the large, yet quaint garden cemetery was punctuated by police cruisers and groundskeepers. Not atypical to find a cop or mailman lunching in a boneyard, but the sheer quantity of the cop cars at Holy Sepulchre was unusual. As was the angel with the baby brontosaurus.
A groundskeeper with a weedwhacker, working in the cemetery, stopped me and said “Don’t lose sight of your car.” One on a riding mower cut his engine and came over to me saying: “You know, I was held up at gunpoint here last year while on my mower …” Hence, the cop cars. I think I was near this stone couple at the time. As an aside, when people see this image, they sometimes ask, “Where is there a statue of Stalin next to Washington?”
As I walked around shooting the necrotecture, the chief caretaker rolled up in his pickup and wanted to know my business. After I explained, he was ok with my shooting, but added: “These damn film crews from New York come in here to make movies…they run around knocking over tombstones.” Over the years, I’ve learned that people who work in cemeteries often have a favorite statue. It usually pays to ask them.
The images accompanying this text were captured on that day (in 2001) and remain some of my favorites. I’ve continued to feed my morbid fascination at other cemeteries around the country, but few images match the intensity of The Bishop or the eeriness of “Floating Angel.”
To add substance to this article, I Googled the cemetery and found it to be in Essex County, oddly nicknamed “Bishop’s Cemetery.” Go figure. Must be more to the story, but that’s where I run out of talent.