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.
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
Dogs represent the majority of animals buried at Aspin Hill Memorial Park. Cats are almost equally numerous. But it’s not just cats and dogs that are buried at this pet cemetery. There are also horses, birds, snakes, rabbits, hamsters, turtles, and at least one opossum. A former owner of the cemetery once claimed that he could bury an elephant if he had to, although he was never called upon to do so. Even more surprising is the fact that there are quite a few humans buried there as well. Continue reading Not Just Cats and Dogs
This is part one of the history of the pet cemetery in Aspen Hill, Maryland, now known as Aspin Hill Memorial Park.
On July 14, 1920, Richard C. Birney and his wife Bertha took possession of what was referred to on the deed as “10 acres more or less on the Seventh Street Pike.” (Seventh Street Pike is now known as Georgia Avenue.) On this tract of farmland, seven miles north of the Washington, D.C. border, the Birneys planned to breed dogs, to board other peoples’ dogs, and to run a pet cemetery.
Continue reading Aspin Hill Cemetery for Pet Animals, The Early Years
This is my favorite tombstone in the entire cemetery — Frosty, a white cat, posing in a blue dress. If you’ve ever had a cat, you know that they are usually not inclined to tolerate nonsense like this from their owners. Frosty, owned by the Foster family, must have been one special cat. The simple tagline “a pal” at the bottom of the tombstone is understated yet sincere.
Inscription: Frosty 1934-1945 A pal FOSTER (across the top edge) Location: Aspen Hill Memorial Park N 39° 04.751 W 077° 04.585
Get out your hankies, because this is one sad story. On a lovely Sunday morning in August 1928, Eric and Alvina Matus of Capitol Heights, Maryland went on a boating trip on the Potomac. They and another couple were fishing from a skiff near Colonial Beach, Virginia when they capsized. The couple with them were rescued by nearby fishermen, but the Matuses disappeared in sixty feet of water. Days later, their bodies were recovered.
Continue reading This Ever Faithful Barking Ghost
J. Edgar Hoover was, among other things, devoted to his dogs. His first, Spee De Bozo, was so beloved that Hoover kept his photograph on his desk at work. When Spee De Bozo died in 1934, Hoover buried him in Aspin Hill Memorial Park. Accompanied by three of his aides, he watched as his beloved Airedale was lowered into the ground. He told the cemetery groundskeeper, “This is one of the saddest days of my life.”
Continue reading J. Edgar Hoover’s Dogs
Here’s what I’d like to know. If they loved these cats so much that they’d bury them in Aspin Hill Memorial Park, underneath a solid granite tombstone, why couldn’t they have come up with more imaginative names than Cat #1 and Cat #2?
Timmie was, by all accounts, and extraordinary cat. For one thing, he loved birds. Most cats would rather eat them than befriend them. But Timmie would let them perch on his head or his back. Once he had a baby robin as a companion, but it had to be released into the wild. His owner bought him a pair of ducklings. Timmie loved those ducks, and was devastated when they had to be sent away because they were too big to keep in a city apartment. They were replaced by a baby chick. Timmie’s most famous avian pal was Caruso, a canary who belonged to Calvin Coolidge. Timmie was so enamored of Caruso that Coolidge gave him to the cat for keeps.
Continue reading Timmie the Cat