The Inverted Torch

Since Roman times, the inverted torch has been a symbol of death. Here are two examples from the Smithfield East End Cemetery, in both of which we note that the torch keeps burning upside-down in a most unlikely manner. Both couples have German names, both were probably members of the same Reformed congregation, and the stones are nearly contemporary and side by side; but we note that one of them is English and one is German—an indication of how thoroughly bilingual the more prosperous parts of the German community in Pittsburgh were at the beginning of the twentieth century.

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