Friday, November 3, 2017

ALL SOULS: L.A. COUNTY'S ANNUAL BURIAL OF THE UNCLAIMED DEAD

LA COUNTY CREMATORIUM/CEMETERY

This week's arts and culture column begins like this:

Every year, around the beginning of December, always on a Wednesday, Los Angeles County holds a burial of the unclaimed dead.

The address is 3301 1st St., adjacent to the Evergreen Cemetery. The event is open to the public.

The date of this year’s service is Dec. 6, at 10 a.m. Last year’s, which I attended, took place on Nov. 30.

I’d arranged to meet a couple of friends there and parked a few blocks away. Along the cemetery side of 1st Street, starlings pecked at a patch of sere Bermuda grass. A mourning dove sat vigil on a grave marker. A pair of California quails, oblivious to death, flirted.

The main building is a crematorium, topped by rusting smokestacks. Attached is a west-facing chapel with bare-bones decor: a concrete floor, 10 or 12 battered wooden pews, a token black casket backed by a podium holding a Dickensian ledger — the County of Los Angeles Register of Cremations.

The entries went back several years and, amazingly in this day and age, are handwritten. My eyes ranged down the columns: name, sex, race, date of birth, date of death, place of death, date of permit to cremate, date of cremation.

The “place of death” column was a map of L.A.’s hospitals and institutions: St. Francis Medical Center, Olive View UCLA Medical Center, Pomona Valley Hospital, Harbor UCLA Medical Center, St. Vincent’s, St. Joseph’s, Hollywood Presbyterian, Good Samaritan.

READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.

You might also be interested in the youtube, "A Certain Kind of Death," which gives a behind-the-scenes look at some of the "unclaimed dead" in LA.




ST. DYMPHNA, MURDERED BY HER BENT-ON-INCEST FATHER,
PATRON SAINT OF THE MENTALLY ILL

2 comments:

  1. Hi Heather- Thinking of your "gun as an anti sacrament" piece after the shooting today.. when things like this happen I often think of your work as a refuge when I need to stop obsessively reading the news and find a word of truth.. so thank you for that.

    I would love to see the anti sacrament article revisited or published or something.. I always think of it when there is a shooting

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  2. Robert, thanks, I'm touched that you remembered that post from what turns out to be four years ago--I just dug it out and will put it up soon--I wrote another around that time called The Virus of Violence which might also be due for a re-run.

    I so hear you about obsessively reading the news, almost as if it were a drug. Looking for something we're never going to find there, which is as you say is a word of Truth with a capital T. Lately--well always, but esp when I'm being sucked down the vortex of "current events," I find the old-school prayers help--just repeating Hail Marys over and over, or the Anima Christi, or one of my personal favorites. the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel...

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