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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Embury Methodist Church's Odd Gravestones

Posted By on Sun, Jun 20, 2010 at 11:49 PM

Embury-Uknown-smallest.jpg
When I've been interviewed by Vanity Fair, The New York Times, and North American Potato Farmer magazine, I've told those writers that I spend an awful lot of time writing about DINING and DYING.

Because I get so many queries about long-lost diners and restaurants, you see, and also about odd and unusual tombstones.

My good friend Andrew Northern, who has amassed a fine collection of interesting Memphis images, seems to share my hard-to-explain fascination with old graveyards, and recently sent me two photographs of rather cryptic tombstones he recently discovered in the cemetery of Embury Methodist Church, on Woodstock-Cuba Road several miles north of Memphis.

First of all, it's always sad when someone is buried without anyone knowing who they are, and in this case, a simple tombstone marks the last resting place of someone whose identity remains unknown. But it's even sadder when the tombstone carvers can't even spell UNKNOWN correctly! And good grief, would it have really been that much trouble to at least put a DATE on this stone? This is just ... bizarre. Though I DO like the "In Spirit" floating above the cross. That's a nice touch.

But what's with the cross? If the person buried here is completely uknown — uh, I mean unknown — then how do we know he (or she) wasn't Jewish or Buddhist or Hindu or —¬†for that matter — a fearsome Thuggee (look it up — it's not what you think).

The other stone that caught Andrew's eye marks the grave (maybe) of James E. Rowe, who embellished his tombstone with the sort-of-witty inscription THE END. But is it, really? You'll note that the stone carries only the date of Mr. Rowe's birth, not his death. It's late and I'm tired, so I haven't been able to determine if Mr. Rowe is even buried here. Yet.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF ANDREW NORTHERN

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