Historically Spooky

The Toynbee Tiler (TTT) has been dropping tiles since the early 80s, trying in various ways to convince folks that the dead will be resurrected if only we colonize Jupiter. Yes, like the best outsider artists, he’s a wee bit nutty. Extremely paranoid and secretive, his identity has never been verified.

If you want to watch one of my favorite documentaries, check out Resurrect Dead. Even if you’re not into the tiles, the movie is wonderfully entertaining.

Though tiles have been found all over the world, the work is primarily centered in Philadelphia. I first learned about the tiles when living in Oregon. Then I moved to Florida. I didn’t have much hope of seeing one myself. But then…we moved to Maryland. And, as it turns out, TTT likes to head down I95 and drop tiles in Baltimore and Washington. WOOHOO!

A couple weekends ago, the Spousal Unit and I went tile hunting in Baltimore. We didn’t find anything new–we just looked for tiles that were already documented. Hey, first time out, we wanted a sure thing.

At first, we looked for anything in the area. Having no luck, we decided to concentrate only on tiles with pictures. We were beginning to have doubts, when we spotted a suspicious splotch in a crosswalk:

And then, OMG:

My First Toynbee Tile, at Pratt and South. (links to pic from 2014)

I can’t even begin to explain my elation. I didn’t cry, but it was close. I was floating.

Flush with success, we found several more:

Sorry about the ugly word. Like I said, guy is afraid of EVERYTHING. (links to 2015 pic by Joey Pasco)

(links to pic from 2014 by Keith Hughes)

(links to 2014 photo)

My fave, with 2001 carefully inlaid like a background. (links to 2014 photo)

It’s interesting to see how the tiles have held up over time. Each of the Baltimore tiles links to an earlier photo.

Yesterday, I hoofed around Washington, but all I found was a possible fragment:

There’s been a lot of repaving; nonetheless, I have been scouring boards, and plan on going back with more info.

Aspin Hill Memorial Park is one of the oldest pet cemeteries in the nation. As it happens, it’s also close to where I now live in Silver Spring, MD.

Mickey’s owners are interred in front of their beloved terrier’s mausoleum.

I spent a gorgeous day there last week, walking the rows and taking photos.  Lots and lots of photos.

All kinds of pets are buried here, though it’s often hard to tell from the stone. This one’s easy, though.

There are some famous critters here, including a few pets belonging to J. Edgar Hoover, and “Jiggs,” the terrier who played Petey in Our Gang. Napoleon the Weather Prophet was a white cat who predicted rain by putting his head down between his front paws. He was never wrong.

Napoleon wasn’t taken seriously until he predicted the end of a drought.

The Jiggs up.

Founded in the early 1920s, over 50,000 pets are interred here, a few with their people. Parts of the cemetery are quite overgrown, and would have been impassable later in the year.

Yes, there are stones under the log.

I would agitate for cleanup, but I’ll be honest, I love an unkempt cemetery. The overgrown parts are less treacherous than some of the front areas where graves have collapsed and not been filled in. Watch the ankles.

The stones move through time west to east. Name trends come and go. Numerous Ladies and Butches give way to Popeyes and Wimpies, and collies named Lassie and Laddie.

There must be a well around here somewhere.

Lots of Happies and Princes, but only one Prince Happy.

We Rate Dogs would approve

Amongst the hundreds of prosaic Spots and Busters, some names stand out.

Bonnie got a raw deal

Some stones tell stories.

And some are sweetly sentimental.

I got a little misty here

There are dozens of small statues, and some more impressive ones.

And speaking of impressive…

You think you love your cat?

I was enamored of the photo stones, of which there are many.  Frosty is my favorite.

I’ll leave you with the last of my favorites, though the number had to be winnowed considerably. You can see the entire, unprocessed photoset on flickr.




I keep wanting to do a full feature on death’s head watches, but can’t seem to find the time. Heh. So here are some pictures and links.

Memento Mori in the Golden Age of Piracy. Scroll a little for the watches.

The Macabre History of Death’s Head Watches

Hayden Peters on memento mori jewelry in general


And a few more pics from here and there: