Your Name Here.

My friend Crystal is a stonemason. Which means she gets to sandblast epitaphs into tombstones like this one.

Here rests Ellen Shannon

Who was fatally burned

March 21, 1870

By the explosion of a lamp

Filled with “R.E. Danforth’s

Non-Explosive Burning Fluid.”

The amount of live effort it takes to memorialize a dead person is astonishing.

Crystal gets to use a gigantic sandblasting machine to engrave rocks by blasting them with sand made out of ground up garnets and sapphires. By the way, how adorable is it that she’s a stonemason and her name is Crystal? And her daughter’s name is Jade. What’s not to love?

Harry Edsel Morrison

Born 1903 - Died 1942

Looked up the elevator shaft

To see if the car

Was on the way down.

It was.

Crystal’s stonecutting process starts with a stencil...

This is a stencil for a man who wanted a tombstone that preserved his memory alongside that of his cat, LuLu. Besides loving his cat, this man was a well-respected human rights advocate.

Here beneath this pile of stones

Lies all that’s left of Sally Jones.

Her name was Black, not Jones,

But Jones was used to rhyme with stones.

And from the stencil - after all kinds of badass magic involving chemicals, gorilla tape, and the aforementioned sandblasting...

Crystal winds up with something like this. And without so much as a blemish to her bright pink manicure.

Here lies a man named Zeke.

Second-fasted draw in Cripple Creek.

Now, it’s only fair to point out that Crystal does other things besides tombstones.

Things like these neat garden rocks. Although I have to say, I have mixed feelings about the pairing of these two rocks. I embrace the “Whisp Of Smoke” philosophy of life - materialize out of nothing, do your beautiful thing, then vanish without a trace. So you can see how the combination of “peace” and “no smokin” is problematic for me.

Albert Franklin.

Never born

Never died:

Visited the planet Earth

Between December 11, 1931 and

January 19, 1990.

Crystal also gets to experiment with the sandblaster:

Jesus or ZigZag man? You decide.

Here rests Lester Moore

Four slugs from a .44

No Les No More.

And she gets to drive a forklift.

Yep, pretty awesome job, if you ask me.

Here Lies Jane Ryan

Wife of Thomas Ryan

Marble Cutter:

This Monument Erected

By Her Husband

As A Tribute

To Her Memory.

Monuments Of This Style

Are 250 Dollars.

But I’m most intrigued by the tombstones.

Look at this broken child’s tombstone. Crystal says it got tipped over so many times, the head of the teddy bear snapped right off.

Jedediah Goodwin


Born 1828

Going! Going!! Gone!!!


Crystal says that she has tried moving this tombstone to the rear by the fence, but that during the night, someone always brings this fellow back out front and center, severed head and all. Which I find delightfully unsettling. Especially since these tombstones are heavy - Crystal needs that forklift for a reason. I have no idea why someone would go to such great lengths to haul this Sleepy Hollowesque teddy bear out to the front of Crystal’s lot, every night, night after night. All I can say is, I’m glad they do.

(Along with being hilarious, all of the above-quoted epitaphs are real. Supposedly.)


  1. fascinating, but i'm still okay with being flushed down the toilet.

  2. Interesting post.
    I'm a descendant from a long line of stone cutters. The Stancliff's quarried stone back in the 1600s in Yorkshire, England.

    The first Stancliff (and my direct descendent) to come to this country was Michael Stancliff,in 1667. He was a stonecutter, and made gravestones in Connecticut.
    His sons also made gravestones throughout New England, Maine, Rhode Island, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky.

    There's still a Brownstone quarry operating in upstate New York - The Stancliff quarry. One of the stones, representing the state of New York, was placed in the National Monument, along with other stones from every state in the union.

    I wish I had a smigeon of stone-cutting talent, but I don't. I'm no good with clay either.

  3. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, flush to flush. I like it! I loved this outline of your family tradition, Dave. If you're no good with rocks or clay, may I suggest celebrating your stonemason roots by bashing the daylights out of some geodes? A very forgiving way to enjoy rocks if you're lacking any stone cutting skills. Or if you're frustrated. Or if you just like smashing stuff with a hammer. And who doesn't like that?