Today I had a real treat, one that I've been waiting almost two years for: the Headstone Cleaning & Maintenance Workshop! Sponsored by the Hayward Area Historical Society, this workshop was to teach us how to do basic cleaning and care of headstones in the San Lorenzo Pioneer Cemetery. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance.
The morning was taken up with a basic lecture on various types of stone and which kinds of cleaners, tools, etc. to use on each. Then we went for a walk around the cemetery, with our instructor pointing out different problems, what might be the cause(s), and various possible solutions. After lunch, we were directed to three headstones that became our "guinea pigs" for the hands-on portion of the workshop. My partner and I had the privilege of working on the headstone of a two-year-old boy; it was probably taller than he had been. Here is a picture of it before it was cleaned:
See all that yellow-brown gook running down just off center under the break? That was old epoxy that ran down the stone after someone used it to glue the top back on. I spent quite a bit of time flicking it off bit by bit with a scalpel; there's not much left of it now, and what is still there is much lighter and harder to see. I'm very proud of that! We also did a general washing and scrubbing of the stone to get as much dirt, mold and the other blackish spots and stains off. (I didn't have a camera with me, so I don't have any pics, unfortunately.) The last thing the instructor did was to fill in that hole in the bottom right corner of the stone, just under the poem.
To see a larger and clearer view of the stone, go here: Walter Ludwig Shiman
Note to Self: Never read the poetry on a child's headstone until after finishing the work on it, as it's really hard to see to work through the tears.