In our June issue, I told you about the old keeping vault at Forest Hill Cemetery. In the old days, before power machinery made digging graves easier, if people died during the winter when the ground was frozen, their bodies were stored in this building until gravediggers could do their work.
One day I ventured inside (the door was open, I tell you!) and discovered the interior of the building was just as lavish as the exterior — with a high domed ceiling and arches and carvings and mosaic tiles on the floor. On that visit, I took several photos of the cluttery interior, but the Lauderdale Library is such a disorganized mess — I've had a "help wanted" sign taped to the front door for ages seeking a full-time librarian — that I can't locate those photos.
But what I did manage to turn up was this one photograph of the interior, taken during an earlier visit, when I pressed my camera up to a small opening in a sheet of plywood that was serving as the door to the building, and clicked the shutter.
I didn't expect to get a very good shot, but you can at least see the rows of open tombs waiting for the bodies to be placed inside. Once there, a heavy iron door (not shown in these particular vaults, but others had them) would swing shut, to protect the "occupants" until the gravediggers were ready for them. Each body was identified by a Roman number carved in the archway over each opening.
From what I understand, Forest Hill is in the process of restoring this building, cleaning out all the rubbish stored inside, and hopes to offer it for sale to a family for use as a personal mausoleum, like some of the others that dot the lovely grounds of the cemetery.
Naturally, many people have assumed that it would be a proper resting place for a Lauderdale — this Lauderdale in particular — but it's simply too small, too unassuming for me. Plus, Forest Hill has rules prohibiting the use of neon, and that would simply never do.