Aspin Hill Cemetery for Pet Animals was begun in 1920, the first year of the decade of the flapper. A flapper was a young woman who flouted convention by wearing short skirts and bobbing her hair. She was often seen in wearing a cloche hat and galoshes. Sometimes, her behavior might be considered risqué, but this was not necessarily so. At Aspin Hill Kennels, Bertha Birney named one of her female Boston terriers “Aspin Hill Flapper.” In a 1923 issue of Dog Fancier, it was reported that Aspin Hill Flapper was making quite an impression at dog shows all along the East Coast.
Aspen Hill Flapper died a champion, and in her honor, the Birneys erected a massive monument. According to a 1930 article in the Washington Post, the largest monument in the cemetery at that time was the one for Aspin Hill Flapper. Its inscription read:
Aspin Hill Flapper
First to welcome
Foremost to defend
After reading this article recently, I wondered why, in the seven years that I have been visiting Aspin Hill Memorial Park, I haven’t seen this magnificent monument. Since the article was written in 1930, I had a pretty good idea of where in the cemetery this stone might be. It sounded too big to have been hauled away, so I surmised that it had fallen.
Today, I went looking for the marker in the area where the 1920s burials are, way in the back of the cemetery, on its southern border. Sure enough, I found a massive marker lying face down in the dirt. I’m sure that it is the marker for Aspin Hill Flapper. It’s absolutely the biggest grave stone in that area of the cemetery.
But there’s only one problem. There’s no way I can turn the marker over myself to be sure. I measured it, and found that it’s roughly 3 cubic feet in volume. I’m also pretty certain it is solid granite. I calculated that the stone must weigh approximately 525 pounds. Resetting this stone will require special equipment, not to mention expertise.
My only hope for restoring this stone to its former glory is to convince the Montgomery County Humane Society to make it part of their plan to improve the cemetery. We’ll see how that goes as they progress through the development approval process with the county.
Leach, Frank P. “Washington D. C. Notes” Dog Fancier, v. 32, no. 9, September 1923. pg. 50.
Wootten, Katherine Hinton, “Where Your Pets Lie Sleeping,” Washington Post, Oct 26, 1930. pg. SM6.