Emerging Woman

I Corinthians 15:51-52

MOTHER, WIFE, ARTIST, AND SCIENTIST

SUSAN CERVENY COLBERT

JULY 27, 1947 – JANUARY 4, 1992

Marking the grave of Susan Colbert in St. Paul’s Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C., is a 6-foot bronze statue, sitting on a rose-colored, polished granite base, completed in 1995, titled, “Emerging Woman,” sculpted by Jay Hall Carpenter.

Carpenter is a world-renowned, award-winning sculptor who gained early fame from his monumental work on the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. where he created over 500 carver’s models of angels, gargoyles, and saints for the massive gothic church. His work can be found at the State Department, the Smithsonian Institution, the New England Medical Center, Canterbury Cathedral, the Maryland State Capitol, and Saint Anne’s Catholic Church in Barrington, Illinois, among many others.  Notable works include a sculpture of Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog and a bronze statue of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

The bronze Carpenter created for Susan Colbert’s memorial shows a woman emerging from stone which is reminiscent of the brilliant sculptures that are on display at the Academy in Florence, Italy, of four slaves.  Michelangelo was carving the statues for the tomb of Pope Julius but the project was never completed.

In a blog post by David Leeds (August 21, 2011) titled, “Michelangelo at the Accademia, Part 2 – The Unfinished Slaves,” Leeds writes, “Michelangelo is famous for saying that he worked to liberate the forms imprisoned in the marble. He saw his job as simply removing what was extraneous. The endless struggle of man to free himself from his physical constraints and liberate the more enlightened spirit within….”

When one looks at the Carpenter bronze, Leeds could just as easily been describing the Colbert monument.  The woman is emerging from the rock, struggling to free herself.

Leeds writes, “The burden of the flesh constrains the soul. This is by far the most dynamic and expressive battleground of these forces I’ve ever encountered. The metaphor is inescapable.”

Another metaphor is possible and it relates to the Biblical verse that is inscribed on the base of the statue, I Corinthians 15:51-52, that says, 52—“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

The sculpture may be the physical representation of the Bible verse, “…We shall not sleep …the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible….”  In the same blogpost Leeds writes, “This piece is one of the most powerful and expressive works of art I’ve ever seen. The figure feels like it is writhing and straining, and going to imminently explode out of the marble block that holds it.”  Looking at the Colbert bronze, it is as if Leeds is writing about Carpenter’s bronze.  Leeds writes further, “The latent power one feels is extraordinary. Is this a Herculean effort to be born physically from the imprisoning stone, or a titanic struggle to escape the bounds of physical reality and move onto some other plane?

Often in funerary art the artist tries to convey the passage from one realm to another.  Sometimes it is depicted as a veil that is lifted so the soul can travel from the Earthly Realm to the Heavenly Realm.  Thus, this bronze could be a metaphor for the physical being struggling to be released from its mortal coil to escape to the next plane.

Susan Colbert was born July 27, 1947 in Baltimore, Maryland, and she passed away on January 4, 1992, the age of 44—a very young age for such an accomplished woman—IBM computer developer, member of the Junior League, consultant for NBC, scientist, mother of two, and wife.  The title of the sculpture, Emerging Woman, might also be a reference to a woman who was coming into her own—in the prime of her powers.  It could be that the sculpture represents all three metaphors.

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Lost Hero

IN MEMORY

COURY

1st. LT. PETER E. COURY

BORN DEC. 28, 1914

SONORA ARIZONA

LOST JUNE 1, 1945

OSAKA JAPAN

Standing tall in the St. Francis Cemetery in Phoenix, Arizona, is the marble cenotaph memorializing the life and service of Lieutenant Peter E. Coury, who was an airman in World War II serving in the Pacific Theater.  Peter Coury was the son of Elias and Margarita Coury, born December 28, 1914, in Sonora, Arizona.

Coury was assigned to the 676th Bombardment Squadron, which was a unit assigned to the 444th Bombardment Group.  The 676th Bombardment Squadron began their training at the Davis-Monthan Field, Tucson, Arizona, on March 1, 1943, then to Great Bend Army Air Field, in Kansas from August 1943 to March of 1944.

The 676th first trained with the Consolidated B-24 Liberator, then the B-17 Flying Fortress in 1943 to 1944.  They then flew the YB-29 and finally the Boeing B-29 Superfortress aircraft.

Boeing B-29 Superfortress

Their first combat missions were staged from the Charra Airfield in Purulia, West Bengla, India, in the summer of 1944 where they bombed railroad yards at Bangkok, Thailand.   In the spring of 1945, the 444th moved to a West Field Airbase on Tinian Island, one of the three Northern Mariana Islands, to stage operations against the island of Japan.  The 676th Bombardment Squadron engaged in heavy bombardment operations against Japan to destroy their military and industrial capabilities.

On June 1, 1945, Lieutenant Peter Coury was declared “Missing In Action over Pacific aboard U.S. Army Air Corps B-29-35-BW Superfortress #42-24524, named “Super Mouse.” Nine other crewmembers also MIA, while returning from mission over Osaka, Japan.”  Along with his cenotaph in the St. Francis Cemetery at Phoenix, Arizona, his name also appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Army Air Force Engineer’s Wing

Carved into the marble in bas-relief on the gravestone’s flanks are shields each with a Latin cross, symbolizing the Christian faith.  Also on the cenotaph are the Army Air Force Flight Engineer’s Wing and the B-29 Superfortress in which he flew those heroic missions.

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Broken

OUR MOTHER

SARAH A. MILLER

Born

July 3, 1825.

Died

July 26, 1892.

The rounded-top white marble tablet in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, in Lexington, Virginia, of Sarah A. Miller has turned gray as it has weathered.  The bas-relief sculpture in the top of the gravestone depicts the hand of God holding a broken chain. The broken link of chain represents a life that has ended. This symbolism dates back to medieval times when people believed that the soul could be held to the body by a golden chain. Once the chain was broken, the soul took flight and rose from the body leaving Earth and ascended to Heaven.

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Undaunted by Failure

 

LEON L. BEAN

Oct. 13, 1872

Feb. 5, 1967

BERTHA D. PORTER

WIFE OF

LEON L. BEAN

1865 — 1939

A few years ago I had a business trip to Freeport, Maine, the home and headquarters of the L. L. Bean Company.

The early failure and then success of Leon Leonwood Bean is legendary.  As a young boy, Leon was an avid hunter, fisherman, and outdoors man.  He was used to traipsing around the woods, marshes, and riverbanks in search of game and fish.  What he didn’t like, however, was the water that seeped up through his boots and soaked his feet.

On display outside the L. L. Bean Company is a monument to the Maine Hunting Shoe (also known as a duck boot) the company’s first and most famous product.

So, he went about inventing a boot that was rubberized to repel the water.  In 1912, Bean enlisted the services of a local shoe cobbler and had 100 pairs made for sale–which he sold through a mail-order catalog with a full refund policy if customers weren’t satisfied.  Of that first 100, 90 pairs of boots were returned.  Undaunted, he kept experimenting until, working with the U. S. Rubber Company, he came up with the right formula for the rubber that would not crack.  He made good on his promise and replaced all 90 of the pairs of boots that were returned.

His money-back guarantee and a unique and superior product gained him customers across the country.  Eventually he expanded his line of sporting goods to include clothing, tents, backpacks, and various other outdoor goods.  What started out as a small boot operation is now close to a two-billion dollar sporting goods mail order business still based in Freeport, Maine.

L. L. Bean died in Pompano Beach, Florida, at the age of 94. He was interred in the Webster Cemetery next to his wife, Bertha, in Freeport, Maine.  His gravestone is a modest, light-gray, unpolished granite grass marker.

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The Persistent Myth of Mother Goose

The entrance to the Granary Burial Grounds in Boston, Massachusetts

Old Mother Goose,
When she wanted to wander,
Would ride through the air
On a very fine gander.

Jack rode to his mother,
The news for to tell;
She called him a good boy
And said it was well.

Then Jack went a-courting
A lady so gay,
As fair as the lily,
And sweet as the May.

But then the old Squire
Came behind his back,
And began to belabor
The sides of poor Jack.

Then old Mother Goose,
That instant came in,
And turned her son Jack
Into famed Harlequin.

So then with her wand,
Touched the lady so fine,
And turned her at once
Into Sweet Columbine.

The old egg in the sea
Was thrown away then–
When Jack jumped in,
And got it back again.

Jack’s mother came by,
And caught the goose soon,
And mounting its back,
Flew up to the moon.

Most of us grew up with Mother Goose and her familiar nursery rhymes being read to us by our parents.  In fact, most of us can probably recite from memory such nursery rhymes as, Baa, Baa, Black Sheep; Hickory Dickory Dock; Jack and Jill, and Old Woman in the Shoe, among so many others. However, we don’t really know who the mysterious Mother Goose really was who supposedly collected the rhymes into one comprehensive volume to be shared with generations of children.

The truth: there was no Mother Goose—she is a mythical character.  But the myth of her as a real-life person persists.

There was a Mother Goose, but not one who collected stories, poems, and nursery rhymes—and she was a real, flesh and blood, woman.  This Mrs. Goose was a real mother—having birthed 10 children.  That certainly qualifies her to be called MOTHER GOOSE.  Her name was Mary Balston Goose (ca. 1648-1690) and she was married to Isaac Goose, also known as Isaac Vergoose, who made a living by moving things for people and picking up odds and ends.   They lived in Boston.  Mary died and was buried in the Granary, an ancient burial grounds in downtown Boston.

Isaac remarried to a southern woman named Elizabeth Foster, another Mother Goose, if you will.  Together they added five more to Isaac’s broad, one of whom was also named Elizabeth.  Elizabeth, the daughter, married Thomas Fleet, the publisher of the Boston Evening Post.

Erroneously, a story spread that got told as truth that Thomas Fleet’s mother-in-law (or the first of the two wives of Isaac Goose) had been the person who had collected the rhymes which Fleet then published.  Except for one small detail—no evidence of that has EVER been found that Fleet published such a volume.

And yet, many people flock to the Granary to see Mother Goose’s grave, which they can see—just not the Mother Goose they are looking for.

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Cherubim

Cherubim are one of nine orders or choirs of angels which are organized into three spheres, with three choirs in each sphere.  According to Christian tradition, the first sphere, which is made up of the Seraphim, Cherubim, and the Thrones, are considered the closet to Heaven.  In Ezekiel 10:14, the Cherubim are described as having four likenesses or four faces, “And every one had four faces; the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.”  The Cherubim were to be guardian angels.

There are several beautifully carved examples of sculptures of cherubs adorning the graves in the St. Francis Cemetery in Phoenix, Arizona.

The first angel pictured above and below is clutching a cross, which is usually a sign of faith.  This angel wears a gossamer gown that swirls into the clouds it stands on.

KELLY T. HYDER

1882 – 1931

Often cherubim are depicted on the graves of children but that is not the case for this gravestone—Kelly Hyder was 49 years old at death.

The next example is of an angel holding a torch with a lit flame above his head and with his other arm he clutches a sprig of mixed flowers.  The lit torch symbolizes life.  The torch is also seen as an instrument that illuminates the darkness representing enlightenment.  It can symbolize zeal, liberty, and immortality.  The angel again stands on clouds which is the veil between God and the faithful.

OUR

DARLING

BABY

ALONZO DELGADO

SEP 17 1931  OCT 27 1932

The third example is an angel on the gravestone of Andres Telles who died at the age of 54.  The angel again stands on a cloud holding a palm frond that crosses his body and covers him.  The palm frond symbolizes victory over death.

1874 – 1928

ANDRES C. TELLES

RECUERDO DE SU

ESPOSA Y HIJOS

 

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The Chalice and the Host

Dominus spes mea.

Zum Andenken an

REV. PETER

TARRILLION.

Pfarrer von Fredericksburg.

Geb.

Zu Edlinger. Lothringen 1821.

Zum Priestergeweitht in Calveston 1855.

GEST.

MAERZ 25, 19oo.

R.I. P.

The white marble gravestone of Reverend Peter Tarrillion in the St. Joseph Society Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas, displays a chalice with the wafer in the quatrefoil in the top of the monument.  The chalice and the wafer represent the blood and the body of Christ.

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