Stories of Cypress Lawn: The Clown of Eternal Jest

By Terry Hamburg, Director of the Cypress Lawn Heritage Foundation

Cypress Lawn has acquired Olivet Memorial Park in Colma. Situated at the base of the San Bruno Mountains, with huge cypress and palm trees throughout, Mount Olivet — as it was originally named — opened in 1896, four years after Cypress Lawn. Known as the “Cemetery of All Faiths,” it is located at 1601 Hillside Blvd., adjacent to our Hillside campus.

Like all of the Cypress Lawn campuses, Olivet has some fascinating stories, and this is one of them:

One of the most notable memorials at Olivet was erected in memory of the Show Folks of America, known as “Showman’s Rest.” The organization began holding annual conventions in San Francisco in 1945, and at that time, commissioned the burial tribute.

Surrounding the structure itself, the “folks” are placed in individual plots with stone plaques for each. The designated area was filled by the mid-1990s. The back of the monument lists those who helped fund these grounds.

Logo image on the Show Folks web page

The Olivet memorial is visited by countless people as a curiosity, but it also serves as an active ongoing tribute to “show folks.”

 Hello Show Folks!

Our annual Banquet and Ball weekend was a great success! I am told about 40 people attended the Memorial Service in Colma (Olivet) on Friday. The service was nice, and the repairs were done. The cemetery looked great. Ron Quint got us an American Flag, and the Show Folks flag were both flying high!

– From the February 2019 edition of Show Folks of America Magazine

Who are “show folks?” Broadly defined, anyone in the “entertainment” industry. But more specifically, they are in employees of the “amusement profession” as defined by the Show Folks of America, Inc., San Francisco, is headquartered in Oroville, CA. Many “show folks” are connected to carnivals and circuses.

What may come to mind are clowns or even the bizarre “side-shows,” but the business is much more: management, ringmasters, performers, acrobats, tightrope walkers, magicians, jugglers, animal trainers, barkers, game and ride operators, setup/take-down crews, cooks, wardrobe personnel, security, marketers, “advance” agents who schedule the next town, and many more.

So, the next time you are in or near Colma or want to take a road trip to somewhere different and full of surprising fascination, consider our quaint little town with 16 cemeteries and Pet’s Rest. It’s also a “safe” place to stroll or drive during these “stay safe” times.

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