Mercedes Benz Tombstone
Linden, New Jersey
Ray Tse, Jr. fantasized as a teenager about getting a driver's license and owning a luxurious Mercedes Benz. Ray died in 1981 at the age of 15. His desire was posthumously and eerily fulfilled when his millionaire brother, David, commissioned a 36-ton granite memorial sculpted to resemble a full-size 1982 Mercedes Benz 2400 Diesel limousine.
The granite automobile, reported to have cost about $250k, is parked on a low pedestal behind the family mausoleum. It's at the northern end of the cemetery -- the Asian section -- across from the Good Shepherd Mausoleum. Shady trees loom; shrubs planted around the car's edge are kept neatly trimmed.
On both the trunk and the front, granite vanity license plates read: "RAY TSE." The carving is meticulous, accurate in every detail, save for the missing hood ornament and sideview mirrors (which would have been too easy for vandals to snap off). Three stonecutters spent 1 1/2 years creating it from a 66-ton block of granite at Rock of Ages, Barre, VT.
There are no visible dates or labels on the monument or mausoleum, and the surrounding graves are in Chinese (It helps explain the lame descriptions of the the site elsewhere on the web, even by those who have visited in person).
A pair of senior citizens were examining the Mercedes' stone fenders when we arrived. They couldn't provide any further details, other than to note that everyone in Linden knows about it -- it's "always being written up in the paper."
Crummy Jersey weather notwithstanding, Ray Jr.'s legacy should outlast every other Mercedes Benz on the planet by centuries...
A side note: In 1988, the brother, Raymond David Tse, was indicted on murder charges after admitting he fired 18 bullets at a gang member in his Chinatown office who was demanding protection money at gunpoint. Tse claimed self defense, and was acquitted in 1991.