Saturday, December 31, 2011

A new sacrifice on a stuffed animal altar to the dead

If you’re a regular reader, you may remember some photos from 2009 I took during a walk along I-75 and North Main Street just north of downtown Dayton. Memorial stuffed animals on North Main Street at Great Miami Boulevard on August 6, 2009
Stuffed animals about 3 months
after being sacrified on a memorial altar
One thing in particular I documented on this walk was a stuffed animal altar to some people who’d died about three months earlier in a car crash at Main Street and Great Miami Boulevard. You can see one of the photos of the stuffed animal shrine here to the right, you can view more on my August 6, 2009 gallery page, and you can read about the crash in this PDF of the Dayton Daily News article.

I pass through this intersection just about every weekday and often on weekends too, and—while I understand that buying stuffed animals and tying them to traffic posts near spots where loved ones have perished in automobile accidents must be of some comfort to those who engage in that practice—this strange shrine just seems depressing to me. When I first photographed the stuffed animals, about 3 months after the accident, they were still in pretty good shape, Memorial stuffed animals on North Main Street at Great Miami Boulevard on December 12, 2010
Stuffed animals over a year
after being sacrified on a memorial altar
but over a year later, this abandoned sacrificed teddy bear, still hanging from a pole over dirty gray sludge, was so strikingly depressing that I took another photograph.

I’m blogging about this again now because today when I passed by this stuffed animal altar to the dead I noticed it had changed—some new stuffed animals had been sacrificed and added to the shrine. As you can see from the new photographs below, the sad old teddy bear has been joined by some new brightly colored (for now) stuffed sacrifices.

But look closely at the second photograph below and compare it to the one from last year above. Although today I noticed the new recent sacrifices, I missed some earlier stuffed sacrifices. In last year’s photo, the one sad teddy bear hangs alone, but, as you can see from the photo today, today’s additions are not the only ones—at some point between last year and now some other stuffed animals had been brought to keep the old raggedy teddy bear company, long enough ago that they too are starting to look a bit sad.

Memorial stuffed animals on North Main Street at Great Miami Boulevard on December 31, 2011
New stuffed animal sacrifices
Memorial stuffed animals on North Main Street at Great Miami Boulevard on December 31, 2011
Stuffed animal altar with old and new sacrifices

If I should ever perish in a horrible car crash (and with the way I drive I might), I wouldn’t ask my survivors to sacrifice stuffed animals in my memory, but then funerals and graves and memorials are not really for the dead but are, as this stuffed animal altar shows, for the living, so if it would bring you comfort to remember me by crucifying a teddy bear on a traffic pole, I guess that’s what you should do.

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