Monday, February 2, 2009
Waking the Dead
I never intended that this blog be one of amusement, yet I must say that the simple fact that I am from a city that is so full of unique people and places, can turn even the most banal excursions into a humorous and adventurous episode. Once again I was proven right on this point as you will soon read. On a more serious note, I am hoping this may be useful to those of you from the area who may be interested in restoring your family's tomb or to people from other regions who have above ground tombs.
Several Archdiocesan cemeteries have signs posted stating that you must have a permit from the city in order to restore a tomb. With this in mind, my two faithful companions decided last week that since they had to visit City Hall for work related issues, they would pop into the permits office and inquire about this restoration permit. (The three of us are really determined to restore some of our ancestor's tombs and are just feeling our way around as of right now.)
Arriving at the front desk of the permit office, John and Michael asked who they needed to talk to about getting a permit to restore a tomb. "I've never had anyone ask me that before." said the man behind the desk. "I'll be right back". A few minutes later two men come out of an office and the guys explain themselves again. Those two men go back into an office for a while and come out and ask the guys to come in. They discuss the issue of a permit for tomb restoration and the permit office personel are left perplexed. They then refer the guys to the head of the department as follows. One of the men yells into the office of the head guy and says, "Hey, there's a couple o guys here who wanna wake the dead, they need to talk to you!" I'm still astounded at the level of professionalism, but you have to laugh because it's to be expected here!
The guys, for the final time, explained that they would like to restore a family tomb and were led to believe that they needed a permit. The head of the Dept. thought for a while and explained that his office was only in charge of buildings and things of that nature. "After all," he explained "buildings and such are subject to liabilities in cases where someone could get hurt if they are not constructed soundly...I mean, it's not like if you restore the tomb incorrectly your gonna hurt anyone...they're already dead!". (Mike claims that the man made the last statement a little to loud and nervously) He then chuckled. "No," he said "you don't need a permit from us...." and everyone continued to giggle and mutter in the office at how bizarre these two men were.
In the end, I don't know which party ended up really being the source of the humor. Was it that Mike and John actually had to go through so many perplexed parties just to be laughed at and told no or was it the department thinking that Mike and John were two looney toons.
Regardless, if you do decide that you would like to restore an above ground tomb, be sure to check into permits both on the city level and any private or religious party who may own the cemetery. In addition, I am told that it can be a very timely and expensive endeavor...I still think it will be worth it. Even if we do get laughed out of City Hall.
On a related note, the article on my website, neworleansancestry.com, for this month is going to focus on burial practices for above ground tombs. It is very informative and interesting. Check it out!