Wait in Line

You may remember that a couple of weeks ago my husband and I visited the Norris City Cemetery, next to the Norristown Farm Park. We wandered over the peaceful site for some time, looking at the headstones and enjoying the calm, beautiful day. It was a place where each person had a place to be remembered and each life commemorated, I felt.

On the way home from that trip, we passed Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Wyncote, just a hop skip and a jump from our house. We go by this location almost every day, either on the local road or on the highway passing on the other side.

It’s a Catholic cemetery and just for your info, my in-laws are both buried here (though not near the site I’m going to show you.)

All right. I’d noticed a set of black shapes lined up way out in an empty part of the cemetery from the highway,but I couldn’t tell exactly what they were.

We had a closer view from the local road, but we’d never had time to stop and really get a look. Well, today, we did. Here’s the sight that caught our eye:

Yes. A neatly-arrayed line of burial vaults, waiting for use. From a mark on one at the far end, I think there were originally 100 of them.

The whole thing just made me laugh. Did the cemetery get a sale price for buying in bulk? Is this the only place they could find to store them, or was it a practical matter? – after all, new interments are taking place only a few hundred feet away, not much transport time.

And…Is it me or does it seem just a little bit – impersonal? I’m feeling a bit of an assembly-line atmosphere here…


Anyway, they are getting used. You can see where the marks on the ground were – there were more here not long ago.

This line will slowly shrink. I’m keeping my eye on things and I wonder how long it will take.


About Claudia McGill

A person who does art and writes poetry. That's me!

18 responses to “Wait in Line

  1. Claudia, the ironies and wit in this post give me a needed laugh on this day. I love it. I also suspect the answer to most or all of your questions is Yes. You see so much in supposedly ordinary things that many might overlook. This is just one of the reasons why I enjoy your posts so much.

    • Thank you, I love hearing from you! This particular sight has become a regular thing I check on in my daily round, as I pass it pretty much every day. And…remember, these pictures were taken 2 weeks ago. My husband and I both think a couple of vaults have been taken away, the ground looks fresher under a couple of the end spots…I’ll keep you posted.!!!

  2. Your comments made me laugh. This is really weird to me too!

  3. I have visited a lot of cemeteries and graveyards in my time and never, ever seen something like this. It is quite hysterical to think about someone getting some sort of deep discount for bulk buying the vaults. While I approve of the thriftiness, I definitely think more thought should have gone into where to store them until they were required. I wonder if the last one will disappear before another bulk buy gets added to the row.

    • Yes, I’ve thought the same things as you. It seems a bit cold to have this line-up, sort of like, well, we’re all going to die, get in line! I also have wondered if another order will be placed and when. I’ve never seen them do this before, stockpile them in this location, but – it wasn’t that long ago that they were renting out part of this space to the highway construction people to store their equipment. And in the winter they store snow-moving equipment here, I don’t know whose that is. It’s quite a busy little spot…

      • Definitely not quiet in that cemetery then! Yes, it’s impersonal in terms of the serried rows of vaults, as if death is just an assembly line with no emotion attached, but also in their uniformity. I get that death is the great leveler but letting people know before they die that they are just a number and not so individual is a tad tactless.

        • Yes. I already dislike this cemetery because it lays out the rows so that headstones are back to back. I hate the idea of a smaller headstone crammed up against a larger one as if in comparison. It looks ugly and it seems kind of…uncaring.

  4. A very courious sight indeed. Sort of like a car lot waiting for folks to pick out their next car.

  5. One way to observe the circle of life…

  6. How peculiar and poignant. Life moves in this direction, sure, but they made it extra clear. 😀

    • I’ve seen the line shrink – I’m going to take more pictures next time I have time to stop and they have the gate open (I pass it often but I have been in a hurry recently on this route.) All I can say is, they need to order more pretty soon…

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