In the mid-seventies, when my oldest was in preschool, he watched Mr. Rodger's religiously. The neighborhood Rodger's created was Will's neighborhood.....and he would sing along with his mentor the theme song:
"It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
It's a neighborly day in this beautywood,
A neighborly day for a beauty,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?"
The other day when Magi and I were at Forest Hills Cemetery, I found myself singing this little ditty as I viewed Christopher Frost's "Neighbors", miniature cast concrete houses on a puddingrock outcropping.
Within a “rural cemetery”
On a plum-pudding outcrop,
Spirit neighbors greet one another
As they go about their rounds.
Within this caste concrete neighborhood
No one gives a care, whether you are wealthy
Or haven’t a dime to spare.
A “mad” poet in the depth of depression
Drinks whiskey by the gallon
While a temperance leader hangs
“The Drunkard’s Progress” on her wall.
The Industrialist that created Lead Works
Lives in a Gothic Revival home
And spends his late afternoons
Drinking brandy with a talented Fox.
As summer turns to autumn
And leaves begin to fall
High upon this hillside
The spirit neighbors fear nothing at all.
Christopher Frost created Neighbors in 2006 as part of Dwelling, an exhibition funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
I conceived Neighbors as a way to address ideas of the physical home before and after death. The piece compares the dwellings of individuals in life and the "dwellings" created for them after their deaths.
Each concrete building is a replica of the home of a particular person buried at Forest Hills. I chose structures from the thousands of possible residences in order to include a variety of architectural styles. Just as the houses’ architecture reflected the diversity of their occupants’ background, social status, ethnicity, and other traits during their lifetimes, so the architecture of their monuments and grave sites reflects those traits after their deaths.
In most cases I was able to find and copy buildings that still exist today, suggesting that the architecture left behind and then reinhabited by the living can carry the memories of those who have passed on.
The houses represent the residences of Charles Varney Whitten, merchant (1829-1897); Mary Hunt, temperance leader (1830-1906), John A. Fox, architect (1836-1902); Joseph H. Chadwick, industrialist, whose Gothic Revival mausoleum is on Fountain Avenue (1827-1902); Ralph Martin, wagon-driver, who perished in the Great Molasses Flood; Samuel S. Pierce, grocer (1807-1881); and Anne Sexton, poet (1928-1967). (from Forest Hills Trust webpage)
Joseph H. Chadwick's Mausoleum
View from the Mausoleum
Note: Roxbury conglomerate, also known as Roxbury puddingstone, is a puddingstone or conglomerate stone that forms the bedrock underlying most of Roxbury, Massachusetts, now part of the city of Boston. Roxbury puddingstone is the official rock of Massachusetts. (from Wiki).
A tree extending its roots around puddingstone.
A close-up of puddingstone.
Images by Magi and Bob.