After the pomp and ceremony of Hillside Memorial Park, stepping into Evergreen Memorial Park was like stepping back in time. The oldest of the Los Angeles cemeteries, it has plenty to say about yesteryear and says it in ways that would raise an eyebrow today.
Evergreen Memorial Park opened its grounds in 1877 and is LA’s oldest cemetery. Today, these 60 acres are home to some 300 000 graves that chronicle the history of the area. The best maintained sectioned tells, too, of those who are still living: relatives of the Japanese-Americans of the 442 Regimental Combat Unit who fought for the USA during World War II.
I noticed that the markers for children’s graves were topped with a lamb, something I’ve not seen before. They were also smaller in size and for the most part, moss-covered and long-forgotten. Sad, really, to see what happens when the living die off or move on.
There’s an entire section for deceased members of the Pacific Coast Showmen’s Association, but unfortunately few of the markers said what the person did. A missed opportunity there to get creative, but perhaps back in the day, being dead was as good as being done.
Some of the notables, like John W. Bixby, get a special mention in the history of the cemetery. A native of Anson, Maine, Bixby came to LA when he was 21. His family apparently, was behind the development of Long Beach and they’ve lent their name to Bixby Park. Others, like Frank Breed, give cause of death, one line that conjures all sorts of possible stories. There’s a fascinating slide show of the whole place on this site.
But again, there was no map, no indication of who was buried where. The adjacent Potters Field, the only place Chinese bodies could be buried in the county for the longest time, was closed. Unlike the privately owned Evergreen Memorial Park, it is owned by the county and they don’t work on Sundays.
My favourite of the new markers says so much about the man buried underneath. The combination of film, fishing, and firearms made be laugh out loud. The addition of the Royal Flush had be thinking this chap would have made a good cowboy.