The Contrast

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In Portland, Oregon lies a cemetery that we visited on our trip there in July. I love to roam old cemeteries and read the epitaphs and see the various art on the tombs.

As we were walking through this particular cemetery, there were numerous graves which had tombstones with pictures on them. Some were of the images of those who lay underneath the grass, embraced in slumber. Others were scenes taken from nature.

When we were almost done walking through the cemetery, my eyes spotted the stone in today’s photo. The lighting was just perfect as it filtered down through the trees, highlighting certain parts of the engraved image just where they should be lit up. I simply had to stop and take some images. It looks great in black and white, too.

Apparently there was a large historical population foreigners who lived in Portland in years gone by and this type of stone seems to be a common style of stones among them in this cemetery. I don’t recall their nationality, and I couldn’t read it, but I could appreciate the beauty of the stones.

The contrast on this stone, the white/black, dark/bright…reminded me of the contrast of life and death itself. And that only made it all the more intriguing.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1984, Ed Gein, a serial killer infamous for skinning human corpses, died of complications from cancer in a Wisconsin prison at age 77. Gein served as the inspiration for writer Robert Bloch’s character Norman Bates in the 1959 novel “Psycho,” which in 1960 was turned into a film starring Anthony Perkins and directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Edward Theodore Gein was born in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, on July 27, 1906, to an alcoholic father and domineering mother, who taught her son that women and sex were evil. Gein was raised, along with an older brother, on an isolated farm in Plainfield, Wisconsin. After Gein’s father died in 1940, the future killer’s brother died under mysterious circumstances during a fire in 1944 and his beloved mother passed away from health problems in 1945. Gein remained on the farm by himself.

In November 1957, police found the headless, gutted body of a missing store clerk, Bernice Worden, at Gein’s farmhouse. Upon further investigation, authorities discovered a collection of human skulls along with furniture and clothing, including a suit, made from human body parts and skin. Gein told police he had dug up the graves of recently buried women who reminded him of his mother. Investigators found the remains of 10 women in Gein’s home, but he was ultimately linked to just two murders: Bernice Worden and another local woman, Mary Hogan.

Gein was declared mentally unfit to stand trial and was sent to a state hospital in Wisconsin. His farm attracted crowds of curiosity seekers before it burned down in 1958, most likely in a blaze set by an arsonist. In 1968, Gein was deemed sane enough to stand trial, but a judge ultimately found him guilty by reason of insanity and he spent the rest of his days in a state facility.

In addition to “Psycho,” films including “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Silence of the Lambs” were said to be loosely based on Gein’s crimes.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The most decorated unit ever in U.S. history is the 442nd regimental Combat Team, whose motto was “Go for Broke.” It consisted of Japanese-American volunteers. Together they won 4,667 major medals, awards, and citations, including 560 Silver Stars (28 of which had oak-leaf clusters), 4,000 Bronze Stars, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, and one Medal of Honor, plus 54 other decorations. It also held the distinction of never having a case of desertion.

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