The crosses of the descanso are like the stations of the cross, the road the rosary. - Rudolfo Anaya
October 30, 2003 9:23 AM   Subscribe

Descansos. Public Altars to an Interrupted Journey.
posted by grabbingsand (8 comments total)
Ah, so that's what those things are called. :)
posted by Foosnark at 9:39 AM on October 30, 2003

Very nice, grabbingsand. Some lovely photographs, especially by Dave Nance, and very touching messages on the last link. I didn't get away without crying.

An interesting related site is The Tombstone Traveller's Guide, which also has some photos and information about roadside memorials.
posted by taz at 10:43 AM on October 30, 2003

[this is good]
posted by plep at 10:53 AM on October 30, 2003

Great post. In New Mexico they have preserved descansos during road construction. Here's an interesting article on them, controversies, and how different states deal with them.
posted by lobakgo at 11:01 AM on October 30, 2003

Bill Sampson's site didn't have the messages, at one time -- it was mostly just the photos with very few comments or background info. I could visit frequently then, whereas now I find it far too saddening. Still, the idea of the roadside memorials is so romantic. Who doesn't look when passing one on the highway? Thanks for the links, grabbingsand.
posted by pineapple at 11:02 AM on October 30, 2003

In Montana, the American Legion has been in a partnership with the state for 50 years now installing crosses at the sites of roadside fatalities. They insist that there is no memorial purpose to their signs, but a few spot signs of adornment.

Sobers you up the first time you come around a five-spot.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 2:19 PM on October 30, 2003

These are really nice links, grabbingsand - I never had a good name for these personal memorials. I find them very touching.

Sometimes you stumble on some touching web descansos too - although there seems to be something about grief that all-too-often inspires rather unfortunate midis and gifs.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:35 PM on October 30, 2003

I never had a good name for these personal memorials.

Neither had I. I thought of them as 'street shrines', a term Gibson used in Virtual Light, for a slightly different practice. Street shrines exist for murder victims (sometimes, but not always, gang members) in low-income neighborhoods of Philadelphia. Often they are elaborate wall graffiti.

I've wondered whether this is a growing trend; whether someday we'll see persistent shrines in office cubicles for guys who have heart attacks at their desks.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 6:06 AM on October 31, 2003

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