Fixing Typos in Tombstones — Here's One Way To Do It (Found at Elmwood)



As a Lauderdale, I so rarely make mistakes that it's hard for me to relate to the incompetent boobs who do.

But on those occasions — oh, maybe every 12 years or so — when I somehow publish the wrong information in one of my columns, it's really not that hard to fix the error. Just delete, retype the correct information, and then blame the mistake on somebody else.

Repairing a mistake once it's been carved  into stone is a different matter, as you might imagine. And during my many trips to various cemeteries around the city and county, I have sometimes stumbled on tombstones with misspelled words, obviously wrong dates, and other issues. Often these are just left alone, because how would you "erase" the mistake and start over?

Well, sometimes you do this — as found on an old tombstone in Elmwood Cemetery, part of the Nickey family plot there. I'm not sure how the family name "McMahan" was originally spelled here (maybe with an "o"?), but at some point somebody noticed it was wrong, so they painstakingly chiseled out the offending letter and neatly inserted the correct one.  Not just once, but twice!

The correction isn't exactly invisible now, after all these years of weather and time, but you have to admire the effort to get it right.

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Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and MBQ: Inside Memphis Business.  Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

You can find him from time to time in the pages of the Memphis Flyer and MBQ, on WKNO television, and on Facebook. When he is not exploring the highways and byways of Memphis, he spends his time sleeping, napping, and dozing.

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