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Go to the Light- the curious case of the lightbulb grave. January 13, 2009

Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in Uncategorized, Weird Bulb News.

Zoinks! Its Dr Z here. Recently I was perusing the site http://www.weirdnj.com (your guide to all thats weird in New Jersey) and stumbled across this..

I don't think this is what they meant by "the light at the end of the tunnel"

I don't think this is what they meant by "the light at the end of the tunnel"

On one of our random drive-thrus of the Laurel Grove Cemetery in Totowa a few years ago we happened upon one of the must unusual gravestones we had ever seen. It was a four-foot tall black marble stone carved into the shape of a lightbulb. Engraved on the face of it was the picture of a hand grasping a fist full of lightning bolts. Around this image the words WORLD’S GREATEST ELECTRICIAN were emblazoned in shocking gold leaf letters. Below the hand was the departed electrician’s license number. On the base of the stone was the name Sal Giardino, a smiling picture of the man himself, and a golden two-socket wall outlet. Laid in tribute on the ground in front of the stone was the usual assortment of flowers, plus a very large electrical fuse.

Intrigued by the one of a kind monument, we published a picture of it in our magazine and were soon contacted by Laurie Giardino, daughter of the late Sal, World’s Greatest Electrician. She told us that when her father passed away she contacted Sgobba Monument Works of Totowa to help her with a memorial she had in mind. She drew up some sketches, and plans were under way for a headstone the Sgobbas thought challenging.

We conducted an interview with Laurie Giardino and Anthony Sgobba at Laurel Grove and gained some insight into the man and woman behind the stone, as well as the man beneath it.

WNJ: The grave stones here in Laurel Grove all look the same, which makes the lightbulb really stand out. Do cemeteries have standards you have to follow, or do you have a free reign?

Anthony Sgobba: Years ago, cemeteries would allow any kind of stones, with different widths and heights. Then they got away from that and made it regulatory sizes. Years ago we probably wouldn’t have been able to cut something like the lightbulb…with the shine and all.

WNJ: You said to make the lightbulb, you had to put it on a lathe. How do you get the shape to look to way it does?

AS: You’re actually just using chisels to chip it out.

WNJ: You didn’t chisel that by hand did you?

AS: Yes. It was sanded by hand then polished and sandblasted on the lathe wheel. It took about nine months.

Laurie Giardino: We kept saying there’s no rush. Dad’s not going anywhere. Bad jokes were flying all over the place.

WNJ: When we first saw the lightbulb, we met the caretaker and he told us your family wanted to install a lightning rod next to the bulb!

LG: No. We’re finished. We’re not putting any additions on it. Although it wouldn’t be a bad idea!

WNJ: I think you’ve set a new standard for the Twentieth Century.

LG: I think I’m going to start a consulting firm. Look around–it’s all gray, rectangle, and their all so faceless. I was in a Seattle cemetery where I first saw the black granite with gold lettering on a Chinese stone that we used for the lightbulb.

This cemetery here I really grew up with. When you were young, you’d play hide and seek. When you’re a teenager you’d park with your boyfriend, when you were in your twenties you make it a meeting place, and when you’re in your thirties you’re burying your parents. A real “rites of passage.” That’s why I can handle it, not in a comical way, but in a lighter way. I’ve been around it my whole life.

WNJ: I think that’s the way you have to be.

AS: There are more dead people in Totowa than living residents. The area is surrounded by four cemeteries. That’s a statistic. It was listed in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.

LG: My father was such a character, a real comedian. This is a perfect memorial to him. He was such a jokester that even when he got sick he said, ‘If I’m dead by Christmas you can hang my balls on the tree!’ Whatever costume he had on for Halloween, he would put it back on for Thanksgiving and carve the turkey in it. I have many pictures of him carving turkeys in weird costumes. He gave nine million kids from this town jobs and starts as electricians.

WNJ: So he was very well known.

LG: He was the best. Before the stone was in, we left a big fuse box at the site. We also left some BX cable and some other offerings.

Tragically, Laurie’s sister Kim died in a motorcycle accident just a few months after Sal’s death. Laurie again wanted to pay tribute to her sister by designing her headstone and consulted Sgobba’s with plans for a “peace and love” tribute to her sister. The monument is also black stone with real gold lettering and depicts a globe at the top with a peace sign superimposed over it. Kim’s unique stone sits right beside her father’s.

WNJ: What’s the theme for Kim’s stone?

LG: Well, although she wasn’t part of the “peace and love” generation, she really believed in the concept and lived her life that way.

WNJ: Now you’ve got me thinking about what I want my tomb stone to look like.

LG: Well, based on how I would operate with my consulting firm, we’d have to sit down and interview you and look at a lot of pictures. Let me know when you’re ready.

Hats off to Sal

Hats off to Sal



Peace, Love, and Lightbulbs!

Dr. Z over and out




1. DenzelWpaw - November 2, 2009

Dear Friends, Happy day-after-Halowen! Today the real scares come when all you one night standers find out you just got a nasty case of herpes. 😀

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