Sunday, July 5, 2009

Graveyard wanderings


My Dad and sister are here visiting and yesterday afternoon we went to see the new Johnny Depp movie, Public Enemy, which is about Great Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger and his FBI nemesis, Melvin Purvis. John Dillinger was actually from Indianapolis, and became famous (or infamous) in the early 1930s for his numerous bank robberies and "Robin Hood" reputation among ordinary people. The movie was entertaining, but we were really intrigued when we found out that Dillinger (who wasn't nearly as handsome as Johnny Depp - lol!) was buried at Crown Hill Cemetery, right here in Indianapolis.

Crown Hill is the third largest cemetery in the United States and is the resting place for several "famous" people, so we decided to check it out. We saw the graves (or mausoleums) of President Benjamin Harrison, Lilly company founder Colonel Eli Lilly (as well as the other Eli Lilly, the Josiah K. Lillys, and several other Lillys), former Indianapolis Colts owner Robert Irsay, writer James Whitcomb Riley, and several (we guessed) people for whom modern-day places are named after, like Binford (as in Boulevard) and Butler (as in University). 

We did not see the gravesites of several other noted individuals, such as James Baskette (actor who played Uncle Remus in the old Disney movie Song of the South) or Layman S. Ayres (founder of the old L.S. Ayres department stores) or Howard Garns, who invented the game Sudoku.

As cemeteries go, Crown Hill is quite nice. It contains the highest point in Indianapolis, known as Strawberry Hill. At this top of this lovely hill is the monument to James Whitcomb Riley. This is actually the "crown" of Crown Hill - and from this vantage point, you get a really nice view of downtown Indianapolis. So in a way, it's kind of nice place to visit, and I'd like to go back sometime on a really pretty day to take more photos.