Saturday, August 14, 2010


This hundred and sixty year old church had already served 52 years of service before the young lady that we buried today was born. She had turned 108 two months ago. I always enjoy hearing about the lives of the people that get to make it that long. The changes that have happened over the years have been astounding. I overheard an 80 year old speaking of when they let women start working in the factory where he worked. Her 93 year old cousin said, "she was a teen age girl when I was born". These people had no room in there lives for such things as video games and Internet. The funniest part of this service was a floral arrangement that was delivered. The card read "With deepest sympathy, you are in our prayers. Congratulations!" We were left wondering... Congratulations? for what? for making it to 108? for making it into heaven? congratulations that you are in our prayers? what? what does it mean?

As for this church, to people on the East Coast, it may not seem old. But this and the funeral home that I was
working at today are about the oldest things that we have here in Michigan. Before that, there just wasn't much around here. Even the graves in the cemeteries only date back to the mid 1800's. I was in awe when I visited Cape Cod last year and found graves dating back as far as the Colonial War and older.
Someone needs to tell the people at this church that they invented something called air conditioning. With temps in the high 80's and humidity so thick you could taste the lake water, we were all drenched before we even got started. This old church sits two blocks off of Lake Huron where it drains into the St Clair River. The bridge to Canada is right next to it (behind /above me in the picture). Being so close to the lake, there was a very slight breeze to cool me a little. I was happy to stand outside and help park cars, getting a little air conditioning in my face as each person put thier window down to talk to me. The director was inside where the air was just stifling. Just inside the door is a set of narrow stairs leading up to the sanctuary, which is always fun when carrying a casket. When you get pallbearers on both sides and then try to pick it up and carry it, things get interesting. These old buildings are built to carry sound because they were built before microphones. So you can hear every squeaky board in the floor as people walk. You can hear every cough, sneeze, whisper, everything.

Back at the funeral home, we've smoothed out the floors and tried to make it quieter. But it is a 160 year old house. Which is part of the attraction for the business. The owners have done a great job of keeping the place up so that it has never needed a restoration. Just the occasional fixing is all. This is the staircase as you enter the home.
Then there is the elevator. This is used to get bodies and caskets up and down from the basement, where the prep room is to the garage level and the main floor of the house. Since the building was built in 1850, the elevator is not electric. It is operated with a series of ropes and pulleys and some counter weights. Going down is easy, just keep tight on the brake. Going up is the challenge sometimes, especially if the person weighs very much.

This leaded glass window is part of  a grand doorway between the original sitting room and parlor in the home. Which I think demonstrates well the atmosphere that this old home embraces.
I hope that you've enjoyed this little peek into the world that I have been fortunate enough to be a part of. Have a great day.


JustinO'Shea said...

STEW. . . .this is another unique entry in your blog. Interesting. . .and well formatter. The photos are excellent. . .from my very unprofessional view. . .shows what you are describing very well.

The card with the "Congratulations" has to be from someone who says a great deal in a few words! hehe My mischievous reading is "Hey GAL, Congrats. . .you made IT. . .finally !" ;-) WoW how can one ever imagine 108 years! WoWzzer, again. I wouldn't mind being 108 someday provided my mind was still there and the necessary parts ALL worked! hahahha But I don't think I have a choice, do I. . . .

Thanks, STEW, for this piece of modern history.
Yes, it is interesting. . .for a while, anyway, to wander thru the olde old cemetery just off route 6, down from the Monument Tower. . . some of the stones are so old some of the lettering has been worn smooth. . .as you saw.

cheers. . . .justin

Anonymous said...

Stew...I love the photos you post with your entries! You capture things at very unique angle. Is photography a hobby of yours?


Stew said...

Guilty as charged. My interest in photography was what sparked my degree in commercial marketing and a 12 year career with CPI/Fox Photo (the original one hour photo guys). Times have changed and I have moved on to other things. But, my love for art and photography lives on. I hope someday to put my degree in interior design to work.