Figure 1. Bolen monument. Beahm’s Chapel Cemetery, Luray, VA. Photo: author.

Ray Albert Bolen, born in 1896, died in 1913 at the age of 17. His is one of the oldest photographic portraits I’ve yet seen on a monument, though one can easily Google up earlier examples.

But I like the stone (figure 1). Its attractive low-relief decoration is now hard to read, attacked, eaten, and sandblasted by a century of rain and wind-borne grit, stained, and under assault by lichen.

The cameo (figure 2) is wonderfully patinated. The pitted surface picks up the light in the top half and is more translucent below, looking for all the world like one of those snow globe things.

Figure 2. Bolen monument: detail: photographic portrait. Beahm’s Chapel Cemetery, Luray, VA. Photo: author.

I suppose the photograph was a high school portrait, or perhaps taken at a family wedding.

The inscription is homespun and simple, notable in fact mostly for his mother Zona’s name:

RAY ALBERT
Son of Albert and Zona A. Bolen
Born Aug. 12. 1896.
Died Nov. 30. 1913.
Asleep in Jesus

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Arlington, VA

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