Unearthed: McClanahan & McClanahan

It was lilac season, so of course we went to Graceland Cemetery.

My husband knows I’m a sucker for lilacs, and how much I look forward to that moment in spring when the bushes foam over with good-smelling blossoms. Graceland provides a particularly nice array of lilacs in season, so he suggested we take a walk through the cemetery on a Sunday morning this past May.

That’s where I spotted Archie. I was drawn at first to the fragile little flowers scattered on his cool grey stone. I took the photo for that, and because I’ve been trying to take more cemetery pictures of people who lived long lives. They leave more records, which makes my research easier, and they are more likely to die of natural causes, which helps my mood.

I’m also a sucker for father-daughter stories, and as it turns out, he has one.

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Snoop 101: Know Your Stones

Some years back, I was doing a cemetery walk with friends. While trying to talk about styles of grave markers, I had a momentary brain freeze and sputtered: “One of those… Oh, you know! The sticky-up kind!”

It was not a great moment for me, although my friends thought it was hilarious. So to spare you a similar moment, I’ve put together a few examples.

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My First Stone

He was an artist. He was the best one.

I started nosing around graveyards because I was raised that way. My mother especially never saw a cemetery she didn’t want in on—the more crumbling and overgrown, the better. Bumming around cemeteries was simply a fact of my childhood.

The way I do it now, taking pictures and digging up names, is down to two things. 1) Now I have the Internet. 2) Richard Schober.

Schober is interred at Graceland Cemetery in Chicago. His stone is a missable little grey hump. But if you see it, you’ll stop, as I did that day with my dad in the 1990s.

Photo shows a gray headsstone in the snow. It is decorated with an artist's tools, a man's name at the top, dates, and text in German.

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