Roadside Crosses in Contemporary Memorial Culture

By Holly Everett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
Roadside Memorial
Case Studies

As Austin’s population and urban sprawl increases, more and more people find themselves commuting to jobs in the city, with as much as three hours a day spent in transit. Oftentimes their daily drive takes them past at least one roadside memorial. Between April 1997 and January 1998, I documented thirty-five memorial sites in and around Austin (Fig. 3.1). A number of these memorials have already been dismantled or significantly altered while new ones have been constructed.

As noted in the previous chapter, MADD markers, such as the crosses pictured here, have until very recently been the only roadside memorials approved for the Austin district by the Texas Department of Transportation. Jennifer Solter founded one of the first MADD chapters in Texas, the Heart of Texas Chapter, following the death of her daughter Sara Jayne Solter in 1981. In the early-to-mid-1980s, all MADD crosses in Texas were built by a Houston resident who had lost a son to a drunk driving incident. Solter erected one of these white crosses in 1984, under the canopy of a poplar tree at the edge of a residential area.

The red plaque at the crosspiece reads:

IN LOVING MEMORY OF SARA JAYNE SOLTER
BORN 10/20/61 & KILLED AT
THIS LOCATION 8/14/81 BY A DRUNK DRIVER

-38-

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Roadside Crosses in Contemporary Memorial Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations vi
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments viii
  • Chapter One- Memorial Culture- The Material Response to Loss 1
  • Chapter Two- The Cross-Cultural Roadside Cross 15
  • Chapter Three- Roadside Memorial Case Studies 38
  • Chapter Four- Bereavement Made Manifest 81
  • Chapter Five- Cross Connections, Social Meanings 101
  • Notes 121
  • Bibliography 127
  • Index 139
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