Saturday, March 20, 2010

Meet John Edward Stark, Author of "The Texas Underground"

The fifty fifth in a series
featuring a member of
The Graveyard Rabbit Association





JOHN EDWARD STARK
What sparked your interest in cemeteries?
I don't remember how it began, but I remember as early as 1993 walking to the library, heading for the biography section and pulling out every book. I would flip to the back to see if it mentioned where the subject was buried, and if it did, I would toss it on a table. After amassing a few stacks, I would go through them one at a time and write down the name and burial place on notebook paper. Why, I don't know. I didn't save them or anything. It was as if I was preparing myself for something that hadn't been switched on yet, if that makes sense. It was always centered around the burial places of the famous, never about the cemeteries themselves; it wasn't until I started actually visiting celebrity graves in the mid-2000s that I got an appreciation of crawling for crawling's sake. Who knew the tombstone could be an art form?

Do you have a favorite cemetery or headstone and why is it your favorite.
I've been to both the big ones in Los Angeles and Arlington National, but my personal favorite is Glenwood Cemetery here in Houston. It's the closest I have found to the idyllic grand old graveyard. Rolling hills, angels, obelisks, Spanish moss on old oaks, vines, marble mausoleums, it is the perfect combination of gothic statue garden and wooded pedestrian path. The place is just incredible - it is small enough that you can walk the perimeter in an hour, but as often as I've been there, I am always finding something new.

How does your family feel about your interest in cemeteries?
They know I do it but there's really no interest in them for it. My mother might see an article in the newspaper about a cemetery and bring my attention to it, but that's as far as it goes.

Why did you become a GYR?
Most information sources regarding cemeteries are focused on genealogy, which is outside of my purview. Other websites deal strictly with Los Angeles and the celebrity culture, more interested in reporting on the scandal of the life rather than the life of the person. I wanted to belong to a group that shared my interest in graveyards, and famous graves in particular, but the majority of the existing ones are not exactly populated by the classiest people in the world, to be quite honest. I wanted something respectful, educational and reflective but not overly scholarly to the point of boredom. After noticing that one of my favorite bloggers was a member, I checked it out, read a few blogs and realized that GYR suited me.

For all the would be rabbits - how about some words of encouragement to become a rabbit.
If your passion involves anything rabbit-centric, be the rabbit. There are so many aspects of the hobby, from studies in carving and symbolism to history and celebrity chasing, that there is room for everyone in it, no matter the particular whatsit about it that lights your fire. Just be respectful, don't take anything but photographs, don't try to fix anything that isn't yours and enjoy the silence.

1 comment:

Gale Wall said...

Well said. Welcome!