Death Salon is coming to San Francisco

The Jewish cemeteries in  what is now Dolores Park, San Francisco

The Jewish cemeteries in what is now Dolores Park, San Francisco

I’m going to miss another Cemetery of the Week tonight because I’ve been working on my speech for next weekend’s Death Salon here in my hometown.  Want to come and hear it in person?  There are still some tickets left.  Here’s the link.

The line up of speakers varies from my historical view of cemeteries in San Francisco to Jill Tracy talking about writing music in the Mutter Museum after hours to Caitlin Doughty (Ask a Mortician) talking about her new book Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.  There will be talks about working as a death doula, postmortem facial reconstruction, Santa Muerte, and funeral food traditions — and much, much more.

I missed the Death Salon in London earlier this year, but I was lucky enough to attend the initial Death Salon in Los Angeles last October.  I blogged about it for days on Morbid Is as Morbid Does.  Check it out here, if you’re interested.

In the meantime, the thought of the day as I researched my lecture:  the first “official” city graveyard in San Francisco was really small.  Bounded by what we now call Filbert and Greenwich Streets and bisected by what is now Powell Street, the graveyard had as many as 900 people buried in it between 1846 and 1850.  They must have been packed in pretty tight.

Shop window above the old graveyard

Shop window above the old graveyard

To call the space a cemetery is to be generous.  It had no fence. Sheep grazed on the property.  Without laws regarding the depths of graves, many were shallow and, unsurprisingly, the smell was bad. In 1850, the Daily Alta California reported, “A visit to this place of sepulture is sufficient to shock the sensibilities of men inured even to the battlefield rude burial of the dead.”

After the Gold Rush began in earnest in 1849, the graveyard’s land was suddenly more valuable.  Its owner stepped forward and demanded the bodies be cleared away so that he could develop his property.  It has been commercial ever since.

About Loren Rhoads

I'm the author of The Dangerous Type, Kill By Numbers, and No More Heroes. I am also the co-author (with Brian Thomas) of the novel Lost Angels and the author of the essay collection Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel. In addition to blogging at CemeteryTravel.com, I blog about my morbid life at lorenrhoads.com.
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5 Responses to Death Salon is coming to San Francisco

  1. coastalcrone says:

    I would love to attend if I was in SF and hear your talk!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says:

    That must have been awful, not to mention nightmare worthy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Euphus Ruth says:

    Wish I was able to fly right out there to Death Salon. I know your talk will be good and interesting. The other participants should be interesting as well. I saw Jill Tracy perform last year in New Orleans around Halloween.

    Like

  4. Loren Rhoads says:

    Reblogged this on Morbid Is as Morbid Does and commented:

    Still working on my speech for the Death Salon next weekend, but here’s a morbid tidbit from it to tide you along.

    Like

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