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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 29

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This is the grave of John D. Rockefeller.

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I hardly need to explain to you all who Rockefeller was. The wealthiest man in American history in real money, the Standard Oil monopolist took over 90% of the American oil industry using methods both legal and nefarious, as Ida Tarbell famously exposed. A Baptist prig who combined his fundamentalist Protestantism with Social Darwinism to justify his own disgusting actions, we can all take comfort in the fact that Rockefeller suffered from a condition later in life that made him lose all his hair, looking like the shriveled troll on the outside that he was on the inside. Like many of his monopolist contemporaries, Rockefeller loved to combine public statements about morality with private doings that showed no moral compass at all except the insatiable desire for ever-greater profit.

What I really love here though is that beneath the obelisk is the actual resting place of Rockefeller and various family members (though not his famous sons and grandsons). But there is nothing growing out of Rockefeller’s actual resting place.

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I am hoping that this lack of growth can be explained by one of two things. First, Rockefeller’s putrescent corpse is so filled with bile and evil that it is the equivalent of salting the Earth and nothing will ever grow above it again. The second option is that the soil is turning acidic from people leaving liquid offerings. At least we can hold on to this dream, whatever the actual circumstances.

John D. Rockefeller is buried in Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio.

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  • rwelty

    maybe people are still dancing on his grave.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      whatever caused John D’s hair to fall out must have radiated out of his corpse and killed the grass- it would be appropriate if his grave turned out to be a Superfund site

      • Bill Murray

        or all the people urinating on the grave

  • Roger Ailes

    Seems more Nelson A.’s style.

    • N__B

      Nelson died with his boots on and his socks off.

      • Didn’t his sex-retary put his shoes back on the wrong feet after she humped him to death?

        • wjts

          Thanks for that – for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what Nelson Algren had to do with any of this.

          • mikeSchilling

            Ha-ha!

        • sparks

          Emergency! Guest star, Megan Marshack.

          • N__B

            Emergency!

            There are relatively few places I can use the sentence “Randolph Mantooth is bringing the Portapower.”

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              Johnny Gage, in character

              please excuse me now while I try to figure out why that came right to mind while the other day I totally blanked on the PIN necessary to activate the gas pump at the 24-hr station

  • Denverite

    This reminds me of the (only?) wedding I’ve been to in Rockefeller Chapel. I was tasked with telling the various members of the wedding party when they could walk down the aisle. The groom was a northeastern blueblood. The bride was from a foreign family; I think they had moved here when she was a baby. Her mother didn’t really speak much English.

    Anyway, when it came time for the mothers to walk down the aisle, the groom’s mother tried to make a power play and insist that she was to be the last one to walk down the aisle. This is not what I had been told. So she tried to push the bride’s mother out, I started trying to tell her not to walk down the aisle, and then I started arguing with the groom’s mother about who got to go last. All the while, the organist and soloist are doing “Ave Maria.” They reached the end of the song, and since no one was walking out there, they started it again. And a third time.

    We finally managed to get the groom’s mother to go out first, and then the bride’s mother, and the whole thing went fine after that.

    But I still remember overhearing someone say at the reception: “I didn’t know Ave Maria had more than one verse!”

    • wjts

      Whoever’s in charge of the carillon in Rockefeller is OK by my book. Last time I was there, maybe six weeks after Bowie died, I was walking across the quad when it started playing “Starman”.

      • elm

        A friend of mine worked the carillon for awhile when I was in college. He decided to play what he described as a jazzy version of “Twinkle, Twinkle.” He got a note from either the Dean of the Chapel or the University President (I don’t remember which) that it was a very lovely rendition but that during certain hours he was supposed to refrain from playing anything but religious and classical musical.

        Don’t know if those same sorts of restrictions are in place today, though.

        • wjts

          I don’t know what the restrictions are or were, but I definitely heard them play the theme from The Muppet Show one afternoon in the spring of ’99. It was pretty cool.

    • Hogan

      It’s like the National Anthem–you usually hear just the first one.

  • wjts

    As a Chicago alum, I’m obliged to have a small soft spot for the guy. And the obelisk reminds me of the campus urban legend that the terms of Rockefeller’s bequest preclude any university building from being taller than the chapel that bears his name.

    • elm

      That’s just an urban legend? I always thought it was real. Then again, I thought the swim test being because of a bequest from the parent of an alum who drowned was real as well, so what do I know?

      • wjts

        I don’t know if it’s true or not, which is why I went with “urban legend”.

        ETA: Also, I think the first time I heard the (false) swim test story, the drowned student was none other than Ida Noyes.

        • MikeMikeMike

          Wait, that story might not be true? Next thing you’re going to tell me is that the reason we had co-ed bathrooms in my house had nothing to do with Carl Sagan getting drunk and throwing up in the nearest toilet he could find?

          • elm

            Dodd-Mead? I lived there two years and never heard that story.

            • MikeMikeMike

              Lower Flint.

      • My alma mater (O.K., I didn’t graduate, whatever.) did indeed have a swimming test for matriculators in 1971.

        • wjts

          So does/did the U of C. But not because the parents of a drowned student made a donation with the stipulation that the school start requiring it.

          • I don’t know why it required that sort of rumored justification; makes sense to me.

            Were I to guess, it would be the Red Cross suggesting it to schools.

            • wjts

              Probably. It might also be, “if we’re going to require PE, may as well make swimming part of that”.

    • MikeMikeMike

      Wasn’t Shoreland significantly taller than Rockefeller Chapel?

      • wjts

        I think so, which is why I thought the Rockefeller Chapel business might be an urban legend.

      • elm

        Shore land wasn’t on campus and was acquired not built, so it could be exempted on two counts. I really do think the chapel as tallest building is actually true.

  • DrDick

    May he eternally burn in the hottest fires of hell, Cthulhu take his soul.

    • Woodrowfan

      weren’t the inner circles of hell freezing cold?

      • Freezing cold is hell to me.

      • What I really “love” here is that people (I assume) are leaving flowers, hand-tied crosses & pennies(?) on his grave, almost 80 yrs. after his much too late death. What the hell? Especially as J.D.’s descendants apparently don’t spend a penny on upkeep.

        NOT INTENDED TO BE A REPLY, damnit!!

        • bender

          Those offerings might be to the spirit of Rockefeller as a controller of great wealth, in the hope that he will send some their way.

      • Brad Nailer

        “[Satan’s wings] had no feathers, but were like a bat’s in form and texture, and he was flapping them, so that three winds blew out away from him, by which all Cocytus was frozen” (Inferno, canto 34).

        Somebody’s got their “fires of hell” all fucked up.

        • Porlock Junior

          It was a truism among survivors of Freshman Humanities: What you learn from reading the Divine Comedy is that “hot as Hell” and “cold as Hell” are both right.

          But the worst place in Hell, reserved for traitors, who are the worst sinners, is the frozen lowest circle where Satan is imbedded forever in ice up to his waist, and spends eternity munching on Cassius, Brutus, and Judas. Dante didn’t seem to have much sympathy for the Revolution; so much for May Day.

  • JR in WV

    Mrs J thought people would be interested to know that the Rockefeller Family Fund, the wealth left to his heirs by the original John D Rockefeller, recently divested all their investments in Exxon-Mobile, the oil giant founded by their founding father, John D Rockefeller. Mrs J is a lefty retired union officer, and keeps track of that kind of thing.

    I’m assuming that the 3rd and 4th generations of cousins and nephews etc, felt that the ethics of that corp. were not something the wanted to be connected to anymore… perhaps. Or else the dividends weren’t what they were looking for? who knows…

    • Downpuppy

      Exxon-Mobil, if you please.

      The fund only has about $130 million, totes. Since both John D, William, and their chilluns were fruitful and multiplied, there are LOTS of Rockefellers roaming the countryside these days. Most of them are smart, more or less decent people.

    • mikeSchilling

      That is, one of the oil giants founded by the original John D Rockefeller. Standard Oil got broken up into lots of pieces, many of which are still around. (Chevron is another. BP absorbed Amoco, which was yet another.)

  • Downpuppy

    This is your 2nd from Lake View, right? Tell us. There’s a shiny dime in it for you.

    I used to run there in HS, but don’t remember this. Odd.

  • Brett

    The quintessential Gilded Age Tycoon. It’s almost appropriate that he lived 97 years, from 1839 to 1937. He lived from the roots of American industrialization to the New Deal ending the Long 19th Century.

    That said, his descendants have done some good with the foundation money, like non-profit work against diseases. And Nelson Rockefeller saved abortion rights in New York state before Roe.

  • pianomover
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