I learned something new on my inaugural trip to New Orleans. We took a short guided tour of the city to learn some of the history and see some things that we might otherwise miss. The tour made a stop in a cemetery, where we were enlightened on the details of the burial process in New Orleans. Now, I knew that below grade burials were not a good idea in this region, what I did not know is what really happens in those above ground tombs. Well, it turns out that in the heat and humidity of the Deep South, those chambers are actually small ovens! After a funeral, the body is placed inside on a small rack and the door is sealed shut. Once shut, the tomb, by law, cannot be open for one calendar year. It has been determined that this is the amount of time it takes for the body to “cook” and fall down to the bottom and join the rest of his or her family. Lovely!
You might ask “what happens if someone has two or more family members die within a calendar year?” Well, that was addressed. The person in waiting must go into a pre-tomb tomb and wait for their turn. Fantastic! I am really happy to be in the landscape architecture field. I am also happy not to be in the cemetery business.