I was randomly browsing my undeveloped photos, as I frequently do, and ran across a photo I shot at the Saint Boniface Catholic Cemetery a few months ago.1 Googling the name of “Lauretta Duerrstein” to make sure I was spelling it correctly, ran into this essay written by Julia Crowe, from 1990, that begins:
Darling Lauretta Duerrstein is dead. She died before her eighth birthday. Nearly a hundred years later I sat on her grave trying to sketch her stony likeness. She holds a headless dove on her left arm, while her right hand rests on a petrified stump. A bonnet and flowers lie strewn at her dainty stone boots. Her eyes stare beyond the shadows that shift across her long hair.
As the city’s past is torn down and paved over, I can still find remnants of its history in the cemeteries. But my pencil is too slow to trace the wind-worn inscriptions of immigrant names before they recede into the stone. I sat in the scratchy grass not knowing where to begin my drawing.
(click here to continue reading Cemetary Boy | Our Town | Chicago Reader.)
When I visited the cemetery, the grave had a fairly new toy monkey. Who put it there, I wonder? A relative? A sympathetic parent?Footnotes:
- January, 2016, to be precise [↩]