Dead & famous in Orange County
- February 5th, 2010 12:46 pm ET
courtesy Schiffer books
Michael Barry wasn’t thinking about writing a book while he was shopping at his local Barnes and Noble when he picked up a book and out fell a flyer from the publisher soliciting writers for their ghost stories. Barry didn’t have any, but he’s a resident of Orange County and a lifelong Doors fan. The concatenations in his head started tripping. He knew that Pamela Courson, Doors lead singer Jim Morrison’s “Cosmic Mate” was buried in Orange County. Having an interest in history he figured graves are close to ghosts and he pitched the publisher on the idea of guide to the famous dead that are buried in Orange County. Final Resting Places: Orange County’s Dead & Famous is the result.
The main attraction of Final Resting Places is of course our interest in famous people even after death. You’ll meet quite a few, John Wayne, Richard Nixon, Eddie Cochran, and Pam Courson. Also the early pioneers of the area like Jose Antonio Yorba, and Maria Jesus Ontiveros Langenberger. You’ll also read their stories, the inherent drama of lives lived whether famous, infamous, pioneering, or fates ended much too early.
If you’re a resident of Orange County you might be surprised at the history you discover. Such as the origin of the name of Anaheim, or the personages you’ll meet like Addison Pratt. A 19th century Forrest Gump, he was at the right place at the right time for some very significant happenings of the 19th century.
But you don’t have to be a resident of Orange County to enjoy or want to read this book. Before I started reading the book I thought it might be of local interest. Not being a resident of Orange County, I didn’t think I’d be too interested in the history of the county or of it’s early pioneers. As I read Mr. Barry’s profiles very quickly made these people real as well and put their lives and deaths into perspective.
The book is formatted very simply, very easy to use and read. It’s laid out by cemetery and includes directions and contact information to each cemetery as well as a little history of the cemetery itself. The profiles of the cemetery inhabitants are similarly laid out. Each profile has a short synopsis of the person’s life. I think the longest was a page and half long, but Mr. Barry puts a lot of information in the synopsis of who the people were, what they did in life and why they’re included in the book. Each profile is ended by directions of where to find the person in the cemetery. In reading this book I never once felt cheated about the information provided in a synopsis. There was a comparable amount of information between the more well known personages and lesser known people sighted.
There’s also good supporting material, an easy to use index listing all the names of the famous dead in the book, as well as a bibliography if you would like to find out more about the subjects in the book, and chapter by chapter endnotes.
I think this is a book many people will find interesting. It’s good to have if you live in Orange County, if you want to take a tour of the cemeteries as a tourist, actual or virtual. The beauty of this book is that it can be read cover to cover, you can skip around, or take it out with you as a guidebook.