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Duke LaRance

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Funeral Home Diary - Part 2
By Duke LaRance
Sunday, August 09, 2015

Rated "PG13" by the Author.

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Recent stories by Duke LaRance
· Funeral Home Diary - Part 1
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Again, you cain't make stuff like this up....

Funeral Home Diary – Part 2

Life around the morgue wasn’t always sad and depressing. There were some good times to be had. For example, I had a friend who was an accomplished musician. Once after I had locked the doors for the night, I had him stop by with his accordion. We sat in the dimly lit chapel and he played a long medley of Phantom of the Opera type music. We all found this to be greatly amusing, and many a belly-laugh was to be had.

The tranny on the old ’61 Pontiac had given up the ghost (pun intended), so we used the older Caddy hearse as the call car. The guys I went out on pickups with were for the most part, smart-assed young apprentice morticians. We found that in the wee hours of the morning, we could race around town at high rates of speed, and the roach never hassled us.

When the hearse and the limo needed to be gassed up, one of the apprentices and me would take them over to a full service gas station/car wash on Orange Street. We would grin with great delight at the morbid stares from motorists and the poor pukes that manned the automated car wash. Then, with great anticipation, we would head for the Orange Street exit, stand on the accelerators and race to the Van Buren exit as if pursued by the Hounds of Hell to dry off the vehicles. By the time we had to jam on the brakes at Van Buren, we were usually going at least 75 mph. Those big old cars had some mighty big engines, too.

At the conclusion of a service in the funeral home chapel, after the casket had been placed in the hearse and as the family was being gently shepherded out the side door to the limo and family vehicles, those of us not involved in that process did a manic dance with the floral arrangements. The elevator was lowered to halfway between the main floor and the garage. In a fashion similar to an old time bucket brigade, the floral arrangements were tossed from man to man and put either into the back of the old hearse or the pickup with a topper.

Then, as the procession started to pull away, a couple of us would leap into the vehicle crammed with flowers and race, and I do mean race to the cemetery. We were told on no uncertain terms that we had to get the flowers set up at the gravesite and then get our white pimply asses out of there before anyone in the procession saw us manhandling the flowers.

There was never much of a problem accomplishing this at Sunset, as it was a good seven miles out of town. We still drove very fast, of course and usually passed the procession on the highway as we were heading back to town. It was a different matter altogether when the burial was to be at the old cemetery. This wasn’t more than a mile or two through the old part of town from the funeral home. We had to drive really fast, so we usually took the old hearse on these trips so the fuzz wouldn’t spray us with mace, and then club us.

It seemed like we would just get the bouquets out of the car and scattered around the grave in a haphazard fashion and have to cruise to the far end of the cemetery to wait the graveside part of the service out.

Oh yes indeed,

Those were the daze my fiend
we thought we’d never scream
we’d yell and stumble around in a daze we lived the lives we loved
cops were afraid of us
we were so crazed, oh yes
those were the daze!

COPYRIGHT(C)2015/duke LaRance ~ the drugstore cowboy poet 

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Reviewed by Ronald Hull 8/10/2015
Now I know why they call it the graveyard shift. What Eva doesn't seem to know is that most morticians and funeral directors are great actors, putting on a show of sympathy for the dead, while all they are interested in is figuring out ways to make more money and pay their employees less.

While I drove a Pontiac station wagon of that era on a trip one time and found it very pleasant and powerful, I knew back then that Cadillac engines were almost indestructible, got good mileage, and were the most powerful out there. I read recently that hot rod builders prized Cadillac ambulance engines because they were the best there was at that time. My 35 Ford coupe hot rod had a 50 or 51 overhead valve Cadillac engine. It could've been from an ambulance.

I happened to drop in on Sunset and Vine a couple of times back in those daze. Glad that I wasn't on the road when you guys were on a cemetery run. ;-) Around our small college town, a local mortuary had a Plymouth hearse that also served as an ambulance. It had a hemi and was really cool looking and very fast. My brother got a wild ride in it when he had cellulitis and had to be transported to Madison, 180 miles southeast on Interstate 94,… 90 miles an hour the whole way there.

Reviewed by Eva Pasco 8/9/2015
Sorry, I don't find this amusing at all, but rather a mockery and a two-face front you probably put on for those who grieve inside your funeral parlor and at the gravesite.
Reviewed by Ed Matlack 8/9/2015
You, my fiend, are just as nuts in the story section as in the poetry section...but you do for sure keep me entertained...remind me not to get buried at one of the cemetaries that you service... <smile> -e-

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