Graveyards of ChicagoThe People, History, Art, and Lore of Cook County Cemeteries
By Matt Hucke and Ursula Bielski
Lake Claremont Press
In 1982, I packed a wicker basket with tasty treats (including canned heat to melt butter for the lobster!) and took my new husband on a picnic. In Graceland Cemetery.
Just recently, I read the book Graveyards of Chicago; The People, History, Art, and Lore of Cook County Cemeteries and relived some of my favorite local haunts, if you’ll excuse the expression. I was also reminded that a few bad apples are ruining the cemetery experience for the rest of us.
Graceland, on the north side of Chicago, is lovely, peaceful and not at all a strange place to picnic. Families in many cultures have a tradition of gathering in cemeteries, packing respect for their ancestors along with the sandwiches. Unfortunately, while people in Chicago today may be fascinated by cemeteries, too many pages in this book recount the damage done by vandals and thieves in these historic parks.
A book like this is a mixed blessing: I’m sorry to make it easy for those bad apples to find cool places to vandalize, but I’m so thankful to have these graveyards documented for posterity.
Graveyards of Chicago is written by Matt Hucke and Ursula Bielski, both of whom are involved in the paranormal community. Judging from the amount of research that went into the book, you can see that these two are concerned with preserving the cemeteries rather than exploiting them. The research is so detailed, however, that you probably won’t sit down and read this from cover to cover. Reading Graveyards is more like an afternoon of sightseeing: After a few parks, it’s time to take a break, but you’ll enjoy visiting a few more on a future afternoon.
In fact, on these lovely fall days you might want to actually visit these cemeteries with Graveyards of Chicago as your guidebook. Just remember to be respectful of the property and clean up after your picnic.