Years ago I spotted a marker at St. Michael’s Cemetery that haunted me. The marker for Walter Weinhofer, an infant who lived just one day, was upside down. I’d never seen such a thing, and it had me thinking it was done deliberately, as a kind of statement about the unfairness of mortality, how most of us take our days for granted while others never even got a chance to experience more than one.
I did enough research to conclude that no such practice exists in the funerary world. Instead of rejecting the traditional placement of a gravesite marker as a way of saying fuck you to the whims and caprices of life itself this was, quite to the contrary, just some asshole’s idea of a joke.
I remembered this photo a couple of months ago, or at least I thought I did. My memory said the inverted stone was in the shape of a cross. Indeed, there is a cross seen on the stone but the marker itself is rectangular. I went out to St. Michael’s looking for this marker expecting it to be a cross, and of course did not find it.
With the aid of this rediscovered photo I went back today and found that someone did the right thing, and turned the marker right side up. St. Michael’s is not my favorite NYC cemetery for a lot of reasons but they deserve some credit for noticing this and doing something about it. I would guess this marker has had zero visitors for generations but that is no excuse for letting vandals make a mockery of it.
It would be interesting to know how long it was upside down, and if cemetery workers noticed it on their own or if a visitor brought it to their attention. This is in Section 4C, where it seems most if not all burials are of very young children.
I forgot that I wrote about this four years ago but did not go as far as attempting a photo. The first photo is from 2006. This has been on my mind for a long time.