September 23, 2005



And in Catholic-flavored New Orleans, with its tradition of All Souls' Day, the living spent perhaps more time among the dead than in most places. I almost got mad at that throwaway line about being married in a cemetery (!), and then I remembered.
From Walker Percy's Lancelot:
"It makes a pretty scene today, don't you think? All Souls' Day. A pleasant feast for the dead: the women in the cemetery whitewashing the tombs, trimming the tiny lawns, setting out chrysanthemums, real and plastic, lighting candles, scrubbing the marble lintels. They remind me of Baltimore housewives on their hands and knees washign the white doorsteps of row houses."
And again:
"Look at the street. Even the cemetery, especially the cemetery, looks cheerful. The mums are still fresh and yellow. The tombs spick-and-span, the rain trees bright as new copper pennies. Yesterday young people were singing in the old section. Some of them even sleep in the oven crypts, shove the bones aside and unroll their sleeping bags, a perfect fit. An odd thing about New Orleans: the cemeteries here are much more cheerful than the hotels and the French Quarter. Tell me why that should be, why two thousand dead Creoles should be more alive than two thousand Buick dealers?"

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