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 Texas : Features : Cemeteries : Grave Thoughts

What Ate Albert Grape?
And why is his Tombstone in Gonzales?

or
What do you want on your Tombstone?

by John Troesser

Joe Solansky is a Monumentalist. This is what was in days past called a stonecutter.

We were sent to him by the Gonzales Chamber of Commerce who thought he could answer our questions on Cemetery Preservation. It seems that in addition to his professional duties, he also volunteers his expertise in fixing vandalized stones for various community cemeteries.

This is sort of an interview by proxy, since Mr. Solansky wasn't there and we talked to his daughter Andrea. We're actually glad it happened this way, since we have reason to believe Mr. S wouldn't have told us about his many good works. Our experience tells us people who do the most, speak the least.

The first headstone we noticed was a classically shaped one. One that children always draw for Halloween. It's so close to the door, we almost thought it was being used as a doorstop. All it said was ALBERT GRAPE BORN 19-- Died 19--. Grape is not a common surname and there was something oddly familiar about it. It was and is an artifact from the 1995 Movie What's Eating Gilbert Grape. When there's a movie being filmed in Texas requiring a tombstone, the call usually goes to Joe Solansky. Andrea explained that while cheaper productions can get by with Styrofoam headstones, larger budgets (and close ups) require the real thing. Other films that have used Mr. S's Tombstones are:

  • 1997's Michael
  • My Boyfriend's Back (As in back from the Dead) and who can forget 
  • Children of the Corn.
TE photo
While the movies aren't all first class, you can bet the Stones are. In real life, they've also erected a marker for one of J.W. Hardin's wives. Seems as though a stonecutter could've made a living following ol' John Wesly around.

Consider visiting the Solansky Monument Works. They may be able to provide you with a nice accent stone for your garden, or a tombstone that has exactly what you want on it.

The Solansky Monument Works also provides Perpetual Care at three Cemeteries that they own in Cuero (Memorial Gardens), Yoakum (Restland), and Menchaca (Onion Creek Memorial Park). 

A TE Reminder: If you don't go to other people's funerals, they won't come to yours.

See Gonzales, Texas | Gonzales Hotels

See Gonzales, Texas | Gonzales Hotels
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