Aspin Hill Memorial Park has been in the Washington Post twice during the past two weeks. I was glad to see it mentioned because I think it’s important to keep the pet cemetery alive in people’s hearts and minds. Continue reading Aspin Hill Memorial Park in the News
[This was originally part of “Aspin Hill Cemetery for Pet Animals, the Nash Years.” That article is currently being re-written. Sept. 3, 2020]
Looking for Mr. Nash
Having read that S. Alfred Nash was buried at Aspin Hill, I went in search of his grave in April of 2018. I had noticed that many of the gravestones featured the surname of the pet’s owner across the top. I went looking for one that said, “NASH.” I found only one such gravestone, which was for pets named Flapjack and Cueball. However, I could find no sign of the grave of S. Alfred Nash nearby.
A plot about 15 feet away from Flapjack and Cueball was situated in a choice spot under a large flowering cherry tree. A couple of empty beer bottles, some fallen limbs, a broken St. Francis of Assisi statue, and a rusted dog figurine had accumulated in the low corner of the plot. In the center was the remnant of a shrub that was nearly dead itself. Something about this area made me want to check it further.
There were a couple of metal grave markers flush with the surface of the ground. One of them was read “Cuejack 1960-1976 A Friend to All.” Since the name Cuejack was a combination of the names Cueball and Flapjack, I thought, “I’m on to something.” (I also thought, better Cuejack than Flapball.) About a foot away, I saw what I thought was another marker poking out of the ground. I scraped the dirt away from it with my hands. The marker had the image of a bulldog on it, representing a pet that lived from 1968-1973. Its name was Nashional Bo. Not National Bo like the beer, National Bohemian (“From the Land of Pleasant Living”), but NASHional Bo. I was sure I was in the right place, but where was Mr. Nash’s grave? I idly picked up a piece of trash, an old sign that read “Section 2,” and flipped it over. The metal plate on the opposite side read, “Nash Court.”
Encouraged that I was in the right place, I took a sturdy stick and gently probed the earth. Next to Nashional Bo’s marker, I felt something hard under a half-inch of dirt. It turned out to be a marker that read: “S. Alfred Nash 1909-1974.” I had found Mr. Nash! I felt slightly giddy that I had rescued his marker and his memory.
My only worry now is that unless the plot is maintained, Mr. Nash’s grave marker could sink into the ground — and obscurity — once again. I visit the cemetery regularly, and I always check to see that the marker is still visible. We are heading into a spell of regular rain these days, and I’m afraid because the marker is below the level of the rest of the plot, it will get covered up with dirt.
Aspin Hill Memorial Park is owned by the Montgomery County Humane Society. They are maintaining the cemetery with regular mowing, but not much else. I believe that they are doing the best they can with the funding they have. I also think it would be nice if some of the historically significant graves, such as Mr. Nash’s, could get some extra attention.
Earlier this week, I met for the first time with the staff of Montgomery County Humane Society, which owns Aspin Hill Memorial Park. We walked together around the cemetery, sharing information. I learned that S. Alfred Nash’s cremated remains were moved after his wife died. The owners of Aspin Hill at that time (PETA) would not allow her to be buried there with him.
I called Mount Comfort Cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia where Martha Nash was buried in 1991. They confirmed that Mr. Nash’s remains were interred in the same site with her in 1992.
I don’t know why the family left his marker behind at Aspin Hill, but I’m glad it is there. It’s an interesting artifact that might be used in an exhibit about the history of the cemetery.