Category Archives: Aspin Hill Memorial Park

Aspen Hill Flapper

Actress Louise Brooks, the quintessential flapper of the 1920s. Library of Congress, George Grantham Bain Collection, Call Number: LC-B2- 5474-15 [P&P].
Actress Louise Brooks, the quintessential flapper of the 1920s. Library of Congress, George Grantham Bain Collection, Call Number: LC-B2- 5474-15 [P&P].
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 “Aspen Hill Flapper.”  In a 1923 issue of Dog Fancier, it was reported that Aspen Hill Flapper was making quite an impression at dog shows all along the East Coast. Continue reading Aspen Hill Flapper

Vintage Photos of Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery

Boston terrier paying respects to Skippy. August 15, 1946. Reprinted with permission of the DC Public Library, Star Collection © Washington Post
Boston terrier paying respects to Skippy. August 15, 1946. Reprinted with permission of the DC Public Library, Star Collection © Washington Post

The photographs in this post are from Evening Star newspaper, which ceased publication in 1981.  The District of Columbia (DC) Public Library holds the photo morgue for the newspaper, which is archived in its Washingtoniana Collection.  The images appear on this blog with permission of the DC Public Library.

Rocky, the Boston terrier in the photo above, belonged to George and Gertrude Young.  It was the Youngs who erected the mausoleum in honor of Mickey, another one of their Boston terriers. Continue reading Vintage Photos of Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery

Rags, War Hero

Rags, War Hero. 1st Division Mascot, WW I. Aspin Hill Memorial Park.
Rags, War Hero. 1st Division Mascot, WW I. Aspin Hill Memorial Park.

There’s a granite stone at Aspin Hill Memorial Park which marks the grave of a dog named Rags who is dubbed a “War Hero” and “1st Division Mascot WW I.” I wondered how this dog became a war hero, but I didn’t wonder for long. The tale of Rags is one of the best documented of the pet cemetery stories. Continue reading Rags, War Hero

Dog Statues in Aspin Hill Memorial Park

When a monument to a pet includes the figure of a dog, it pulls at my heart just a little bit harder.  These are the best of the dog statues in Aspin Hill Memorial Park.

Skippy, a Boston terrier (May 2013) dog statues
Skippy, a Boston terrier (May 2013)

I took this photo in May 2013, around the time I first started photographing around Aspin Hill Memorial Park. Lately, there’s been a bone between Skippy’s two paws. I’m sure he’d have loved that. Continue reading Dog Statues in Aspin Hill Memorial Park

Eddie “The Monkey Man” Bernstein: a Rags to Riches Story

Eddie Bernstein with his monkey, Gypsy, ca. 1936.
Eddie Bernstein with his monkey, Gypsy, ca. 1936. Reprinted with permission of the DC Public Library, Star Collection © Washington Post

Somewhere in Aspin Hill Memorial Park lie the remains of a monkey named Gypsy, the companion of a legless beggar on the streets of Washington, D.C. How a panhandler was able to afford a funeral and burial in a pet cemetery is an interesting question.

I was first alerted to the story of Eddie “The Monkey Man” Bernstein while reading an article written in 1979 in the Montgomery Journal. It was five years after S. Alfred Nash, former owner of the cemetery, had passed away. The reporter interviewed Nash’s widow, Martha, who was still running the cemetery at the time.

Mrs. Nash told the story of a monkey buried in Aspin Hill that belonged to a legless beggar on the street in Washington, D.C. She recalled giving her children coins to give to the monkey, who entertained them with antics and then handed his take over to the beggar. At the end of the story, she shook her head and said, “I used to feel so sorry for him sitting there on the street…Shoot, the man had more money than I got.” Continue reading Eddie “The Monkey Man” Bernstein: a Rags to Riches Story

Lest We Forget

Metal plaque on concrete of a Boston terrier. Lettering above reads “Lest We Forget.” Aspin Hill Memorial Park.

I love this simple grave stone.  There is no name or date on it, so I have no story to tell you.  It appears to be cast concrete.  Above the portrait of the Boston terrier, there is a motto, spelled out in metal letters pressed into the concrete:  Lest We Forget.  It’s a simple reminder of what Aspin Hill — or any cemetery — is about:  the loving remembrance of those who have enriched our lives and are now gone.

Aspin Hill Cemetery for Pet Animals, 1930-1960

Postcard, "Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery, near Washington, D. C." ca. 1945. From the digital collection of the Montgomery County Historical Society.
Postcard, “Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery, near Washington, D. C.” ca. 1945. From the digital collection of the Montgomery County Historical Society.

This is part two of the history of the pet cemetery in Aspen Hill, Maryland, now known as Aspin Hill Memorial Park.

Richard and Bertha Birney ran the pet cemetery until 1944, when both of them died. Richard Birney died first, on August 28, and Bertha followed him in death on November 25. Bertha’s obituary in the Montgomery County Sentinel stated that the cemetery would continue to be operated by George and Gertrude Young. This couple was apparently already working at the cemetery prior to the Birneys’ deaths. Continue reading Aspin Hill Cemetery for Pet Animals, 1930-1960