Tuesday, April 30, 2019

CHICAGO ETERNAL by Larry Broutman - a Review

I started my blog Under Every Stone (now Under Every Tombstone) in September of 2011 as a way to share some of the stories I "dug up" while photographing graves for Find a Grave, kevarim.com, or other historical websites.  As a historian, I have always been fascinated with days gone by - especially the people who came before me, both in my family and in the world in general.  I have always said that I am much more interested in what happened here 100 years ago than what happened here yesterday.  When I was young my Mother used to tease my Dad and me because we wanted to stop and read every historical marker we found.  

Once I had my driver's license my region of interest spread.  I always enjoyed Calvary Cemetery in Evanston (even was locked in one night) and spent many hours there looking at all the historical graves and Victorian funerary art.  Then I found Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago and as I have related in this blog I thought it was one of the most beautiful cemeteries I had ever seen.  I mentioned to my friends and colleagues in passing about my interest in cemeteries and most people politely said "oh, that sounds interesting."  In the 1980s I took a trip to Hollywood, California and while exploring Hollywood Forever, Forest Lawn, and the many other area cemeteries I photographed the graves of every movie or TV star I encountered.  Upon my return to Chicago I put all the photos in a scrapbook and when I mentioned it at work one of my coworkers asked me if she could borrow the scrapbook for a party she was soon hosting.  Afterward, she told me that the scrapbook of the stars' graves was the hit of the party.  I began to think that perhaps I was not the only person interested in old cemeteries.  

Then on September 17, 2002 my life changed irrevocably - I discovered the Find a Grave website - and found that there were other people (a lot of other people) who shared my interest in graves of the famous but also graves of ordinary people.  I soon started adding deceased relatives and friends to the site, and of course added photographs of them and of their graves.  As of the day I write this, I have created 13,960 memorial pages for the departed and posted 36,844 photos to the site - but this is but a small fraction of the over 170 million memorial pages created by the Find a Grave community.  Yes, there are A LOT of people who share my interest in cemeteries.

As my blog grew and my Find a Grave postings grew, I began to be contacted by people the world over.  Some emailed to thank me for photographing the grave of a loved one, and some to thank me for a blog post I had done on a member of their family.  This expanded to my being contacted by local historical societies asking me to contribute something to their newsletters, or the local DAR chapter asking me to say a few words about the subject of a blog post who was being remembered as they celebrated their 125th anniversary. 

As the number of contacts grew, some panned out and some did not.  When I wrote about the tragic death of Moshe Menora, my devout Orthodox Jewish friend and colleague, a local historical society asked me to rewrite the story for their newsletter "but take out all that Jewish stuff."  They said that "people who read their newsletters are not interested in religion."  I refused because Moshe Menora was his religion - he lived it every day - and I could no sooner tell his story without the "Jewish stuff" then I could tell mine without talking about Evanston.   

But some contacts were more positive.  I have led several tours of Rosehill Cemetery and Mausoleum that were well received and in March of 2019 I addressed the Germania Woman's Club of Chicago on "A Walk Through Rosehill Cemetery."

In July of 2015 I received the following email from a guy named Larry Broutman:

Hi Jim: Would like to talk to you about a book I am close to finishing "Chicago Eternal". This is designed as a "coffee table" photography book, maximizing photo quality and minimizing text. You can check out my book "Chicago Unleashed" on Amazon. That book is a book of whimsical photographs created by placing animals into iconic Chicago images, a concept I first created for Lurie Children's Hospital. I have found your blog "Under Every Stone" to be extremely helpful. I have photographed monuments in at least 12 Chicago area cemeteries and still want to fill in some blanks with respect to descriptions. By the way, all my proceeds go to The Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and Access Living.
Believe we can have a synergistic relationship, and if you are interested in talking about it, appreciate your response to the email.
larry broutman

I told Larry that he was welcome to use anything of interest he found in my blog, and just asked that he reference the blog in his list of sources.  Larry and I emailed back and forth through 2017 as he had questions or asked about the sources of some of my information, which I gladly provided.  Then the emails stopped and frankly I forgot all about the Chicago Eternal book.  

Fast forward to May of 2018 and my joyous retirement from corporate America after 45 years of faithful service.  My brother told me that he and his wife had found the perfect retirement gift for me and at a celebration brunch they proudly presented me with a copy of Chicago Eternal.  Boy, were they right!  The minute I got home I sat down and went page by page through Larry's fantastic book.  And I was very glad to see that, true to his word, Larry had mentioned me and my blog in numerous places - especially in his pages about tombstones in Rosehill cemetery.

Now the story gets even better.  On April 3, 2019 I received an email from Stacey Lane Smith of Everything Goes Media asking if I would be interested in reviewing Chicago Eternal.  Would I?  You bet I would!  Now that I have given you the back story I will happily provide my review for

by Larry Broutman
Hardcover, 336 pages, profusely illustrated
Published March 6th 2018 by Larry Broutman Photography, LLC, Chicago, Illinois.
Distributed by Lake Claremont Press, A Chicago Joint.

When Larry Broutman first contacted me about Chicago Eternal he said "This is designed as a "coffee table" photography book, maximizing photo quality and minimizing text."  He has delivered as promised.  Chicago Eternal is a large (9 1/2" x 13 1/4"), 336 page book full of beautiful photographs of what Larry considers to be the most interesting monuments in the most interesting cemeteries in the Chicago area.   

Tempted as I am to recreate the entire book in this blog I picked a few pages to photograph and share with you here so you could get an idea of what the book is like.  I have already shown you the dramatic cover of the dust jacket at the beginning of this article, but here it is again - a photo of the Genna family mausoleum at Mount Carmel Catholic Cemetery in Hillside.

 Larry covers the following cemeteries in the Chicago area:

Chicago City Cemetery (now Lincoln Park)
Burr Oak
Oak Woods
Wunder's Cemetery
Lincoln Cemetery (not the Abraham Lincoln Veterans Cemetery)
Holy Sepulchre
St. Henry
Bohemian National 
St. Boniface
St. Adalbert
Zion Gardens
Mount Olivet
Jewish Waldheim
St. Luke
Forest Home
St. Casimir
Queen of Heaven
Mount Hope
All Saints
Irving Park
Mount Carmel
Mount Greenwood
Cook County Cemetery
Read Dunning Memorial Park

For each cemetery covered, Larry photographed the monuments he considered the most interesting and then dramatically featured the photos in his book:

Larry's photography is magnificent - and I am not surprised because he reported that his beloved dogs Shadow and Tanzy accompanied him on his photo shoots.

He included some cemeteries I am very familiar with:

and some cemeteries I have never heard of (and I thought I knew all there was to know about Chicago-area cemeteries):

He photographed the graves of the famous:

the infamous:

and the obscure:

There is even a small 3-D section in the back of the book where some of Larry's most dramatic photos have been produced in 3-D.  And yes, 3-D glasses are included with the book.

This book is a must for anyone interested in history, in funerary art, or the history of the people of Chicagoland.

You will find yourself (as I did) going back to this book again and again.  It is billed by Larry Broutman as a "coffee table book" and it is.  I guarantee if you leave a copy on your coffee table your guests will leaf through it and immediately get hooked.  Better buy several copies to give as gifts (or replace the copy your guest "borrowed.")

And now for the best part.  As Larry mentioned in his email to me, all proceeds from the sale of Chicago Eternal go to The Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and Access Living.

And there is something in it for you.  Larry and his publisher have graciously granted a discount of $10.00 off to anyone who orders Chicago Eternal through this website:  


and enter the promo code STONE10

I consider it a privilege to be associated with this book, albeit in a very small way.  I want to congratulate Larry on this work of art that he created and suggest a topic for a future book.  The Chicagoland area has some of the most beautiful community mausoleums I have ever seen.  From Rosehill and Acacia Park in Chicago to Memorial Park in Skokie and Oakridge Abbey in Hillside.  I hope we see something on these magnificent buildings in the future.  

Now get out there and order your copies of Chicago Eternal today.