May 5 2010

News from Zora Neale Hurston’s gravesite

When Zora Neale Hurston died, both of her publishers provided money for a gravestone that never materialized.

The Hurston Trust has intimated that Zora didn’t want a headstone but Zora always loved being acknowledged with all the glory one could heap on her. And in that fashion, the city of Ft. Pierce has commissioned an artist to create a new memorial for her at the grave site. There are panels on it, one depicting roses, stating those were her “favorite flowers”. I’d never heard that. She was always mailing hatboxes full of citrus blooms to her patron Charlotte Mason, which surely sent both the NY and FL post offices into a tizzy of delirium.  What a glorious smell that is!

Sadly this new memorial does not appear to correct the erroneous dates of Zora’s lifespan, as attributed incorrectly but nobly by Alice Walker in the 70s on a gravestone placed on Zora’s previously unmarked grave, acknowledging a much under-appreciated life (don’t blame Alice if Zora lied about her age). Perhaps I’ll bring my magic marker with me on my next trip to Ft. Pierce for some well-placed graffiti.

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