Showing posts with label grave photos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grave photos. Show all posts

Friday, August 3, 2012

Cemeteries Worth the Visit - Waldheim Jewish Cemetery, Chicago

Map of Cemeteries
Waldheim Jewish Cemetery

Waldheim Jewish Cemetery began in 1870 in Forest Park, Illinois, a Chicago suburb.  The cemetery is actually made up of over 250 different cemeteries representing various synagogues, associations, and landsmanshafts. 

Photo on Stone

Establishing a cemetery is one of the first priorities of a new Jewish community. The first burial in Waldheim was held in 1873.  Jewish faith dictates for burial to be held within the first 24 hours of death.  Funerals are prohibited on the Sabbath (Saturday) and Jewish holidays.  Tradition calls for a wooden casket without metal parts to allow the natural processes of nature.

Waldheim Cemetery
Photos on Stones
Waldheim Cemetery is the largest Jewish burying ground in Chicago, comprised of over 200 acres. Over 175,000 are interred in these densely designed, but beautiful grounds.  At one time, gates and fences divided each cemetery from its neighbor, and each of the 250 cemeteries had its own rules, regulations, and caretakers. 

A Walkway through the Cemetery
Stones Among the Trees
By the 1970’s, the few remaining founding organizations and caretakers were consolidated into the Waldheim Cemetery Company.  The various cemeteries were renovated and returned to a dignified traditional Jewish cemetery. Waldheim is one of the oldest and largest, still active Jewish cemeteries in the country.

Hebrew and English
Deer in the Cemetery
Today, over 100 gates still stand.  Narrow walks may divide the cemeteries, but few fences remain.  Tombstones usually have an inscription in Hebrew and English, or Hebrew and German. Wild life can be found near the forest preserve and the Des Plaines River.

Stones with Photos
Covered Photo
Hundreds of cemetery stones bear photos of a past age, immigrants new to the country, but very traditional in their dress and customs. Many photos are protected with a bronze hinged covering.  The cover may be lifted to view the photo. 

Detailed Tree Stone
Catalog Tree Stone
Tree stones abound in Waldheim.  Many are hand carved with exquisite details.  Some are catalog-ordered in granite or limestone.  All are beautiful and intriguing.

Glasser Mausoleum
Schwenk Mausoleum
There are also many mausoleums.  According to Jewish law, you must be buried in the earth. In order to comply when burial is in a mausoleum, the deceased may be buried in the ground and the mausoleum built above, or earth may be placed in the wooden coffin.  Many times, cemeteries require concrete vaults.  For this, earth is put in the liner and then the casket is placed on it.

Balaban-Katz Mausoleum
Stained Glass Window
This mausoleum is the largest private crypt in the cemetery.  Built with an Egyptian-influence, it is dedicated to the memory of Ida Balaban-Katz.  The stained glass mausoleum windows throughout the cemetery are gorgeous.

Peller's Grave
Clara Peller
A couple of well-known people are buried in Waldheim.  Clara Peller, who became famous for her line “Where’s the beef?” in commercials for Wendy’s fast-food restaurants is interred here.  Peller was 81 when she did the ads.  She died August 11, 1987, one week after her 85th birthday.

Mike Todd & Elizabeth Taylor
Todd's Grave
Avrom Hirsch Goldbogen, who took the name Michael Todd, was a theatre and film producer known for his motion picture, Around the World in Eighty Days.  He also co-developed a wide-screen film format called Todd-AO (with American Optical) that was used for Oklahoma, Around the World in Eighty Days, South Pacific and many other films shot during the 1960’s.  Todd was married to Elizabeth Taylor on February 2, 1957.  He died in a plane crash on March 22, 1958 and was buried here.

A Stained Glass Window
Waldheim Cemetery
Waldheim Jewish Cemetery is located at 1400 Des Plaines Avenue in Forest Park.  The cemetery is open Monday through Friday, and Sunday from 8:30 A.M. to 4 P.M. The cemetery is closed on Saturday for Shabbat and also on all major Jewish holidays.  The phone number is (800) 222-4541.  Visit their web site at for directions and genealogical information.

Photo and Hebrew on Stone
Many Different Stones
If you are a cemetery buff, this is one you will not want to miss!  Plan at least half a day, if not more. Once you begin wandering among the stones, gazing at photos and carvings, you’ll forget the busy city outside the gates…lost in time and nature.

~ Joy

Friday, May 18, 2012

Faces From the Past - Ceramic Memorial Plaques


They go by many names – those faces from the past.  Ceramic pictures, photo porcelain plaques, memorial portraitures, even postmortem portraits.  They first began appearing on gravestones in the U.S. back at the turn of the century.  What began as a oval porcelain tablet with an image transferred on to it has changed and been refined over the years into modern day ceramic memorial plaques that are weather and fade resistant.

In 1854 two French photographers, Bulot and Cattin, patented a process to adhere a photographic image to porcelain or enamel by firing it in a kiln. The original ceramic pictures were done in black and white and then mounted on gravestones.  The process caught on throughout Eastern and Southern Europe, and Latin America.

For the first time, ceramic pictures made it easy and affordable for the graves of the working class to be personalized with a likeness of the deceased. Before this only the wealthy had sculptures, busts, and carvings done in their likenesses on their tombs.

In 1893, the J.A. Dedouch Company began in Oak Park, Illinois.  They quickly became one of the most popular companies that manufactured ceramic tombstone pictures.  In 2004, Dedouch was sold to the Canadian company, PSM.  After one hundred eleven years in business, J.A. Dedouch was also the oldest company to have crafted these memorial portraits.

By the turn of the century this type of personalization was becoming very popular and available around the world.  The 1929 Montgomery Wards & Company Monuments catalog sold ceramic pictures for gravestones and described them as eternal portraits that “endow the resting place of the dead with a living personality.”  Priced from $6.50 to $13.50, they were available in an oval, round, or rectangular shape and came in three different sizes.

Today, ceramic pictures come in a variety of sizes and shapes including the traditional oval, rectangular, and round shapes along with
heart shaped images.  The pictures are now done mainly in color, although black and white, and sepia tones are still available.  The pictures are digitized, placed on porcelain shapes, and then baked at 1600 degrees so the image will not fade.  A 3 x 4 oval will run around $300.  Ceramic pictures can also be mounted on mausoleum doors, benches, cremation urns, and columbariums.

Ceramic memorial pictures give us the opportunity to glimpse back into history. As the old adage goes, “The eyes are the window to the soul,” and these ceramic memorial plaques allow us one more chance to look into the eyes of this long-ago past and identify personally with someone who lived in it.

~ Joy