Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Just another day...

As usual, my day started yesterday. This time as early as 11:30am. Various things kept me going for most of the day. When I was able to finally lie down, my mind would not stop and eventually it was time to get up for the night job. It was a pretty uneventful night. None the less, it requires staying up all night. As usual, when I finished up there, it was time to get cleaned up and head off to work.

When I left to get the hearse out of the garage, it was 15f (or -8c). Since it was raining the last time I used it, it was quite the mess and needed washed. (Every family deserves a clean hearse) It was going to be a 35 mile drive to my job for the day, so I decided to wash it closer to where I was going to. Hoping that it would miraculously turn warmer outside along the way. At about the half way point, I was in neer white out conditions of snowfall. The large flakes mesmerizing me as I drove into the wind with the long dark blue hearse. By the time I reached the neighboring town, it had subsided, but had left about two inches of fluffy white snow everywhere. I pulled off the interstate and into the car wash opting for the automatic wash today. And yes, I washed the hearse in a snow storm. They really need to increase the dry time in the winter months to avoid doors freezing shut. When the wash had finished, I threw on my long black top coat and made sure all the door frames were dry and the car was looking good. then I proceeded to the funeral home.

Upon arrival, I climbed out of the drivers seat and started to bundle up for an hour of standing in the cold. That's when I noticed, the hearse looked the same as before I had washed it. And of course, the rear door had frozen shut. I made sure that it was in the sun because I'll need to open that in an hour or so, or none of us are going anywhere.

Today we had a predominately Baptist crowd. I've noticed in the past that the people from this particular church in town are always in a good mood. As each car pulled up and put down there window and I enjoyed the heat pouring from their car on my face, they would joke about something. Some would think that I was the valet attendant or parking tax collector. They would offer to get me a hot coffee from Tim Horton's or just let me feel a little extra warmth until they were cold enough that they wanted the window back up. Everyone stopped as they pulled in. I didn't have to chase anyone down or throw myself in front of their car. Yup, a very friendly bunch, in deed.

Because of the extreme cold, we used the chapel at the cemetery and everything went pretty smoothly. Then the family decided that they wanted to go to the grave side as well. That's when Lake Huron decided to spit out a cloud filled with snow. The wind picked up from across the lake and snow was actually drifting around the peoples shoes as they stood there. It was so cold that it went rather quickly and we soon had the lid on the cement vault and the family on their way. That's when the sexton pointed out to me the vault next to our grave. Often when we dig a grave, you can see the vault of the neighboring grave. The burial had taken place in 1927. The vault was made of metal.  The metal had rusted so much that it was about to the point of collapse. Fortunately, the ground was so frozen that there was no danger of it giving way today.

If you look closely, just below the casket you can see the corner of the 1927 vault.
 Burial vaults have come a long way over the years. Even the cheapest ones now are made of cement. Some are lined with copper or stainless steel. It all depends how much you want to spend. The lids can be plain or finely carved. You can even have the name inscribed so that even if the stone were to disappear, the body could be identified. As I mentioned, the neighboring vault today was made of metal. It was very popular at the start of the industrial revolution. Before that most were made of wood, if one was used at all. Most wood vaults would be gone by now leaving no protection from the wet earth at all.

So, I wrapped things up at the cemetery and headed back home. I still can't seem to warm up. Perhaps it is because I am staring out the window at the snow falling gently in my garden. While it is beautiful, anyone that doesn't live in Hollywood knows, it's cold! They are saying that it's not going to stick today or amount to much. Not until Friday at least. But, a neighboring city on the other side of the Canadian border got hit with a meter of snow last night. Sometimes these Great Lakes protect us and sometimes, they make it worse.

Now, it's off to bed for me. I've got to get up in 5 hours and do it all again.


Jabacue said...

All in a day`s work indeed! You`re a tough man Stew!
Interesting info on vaults....never thought about it actually.
Now don`t go blamin`your weather on us Canadians mister! You`re lookin`for trouble! lol

AJ-OAKS said...

I am fascinated with what you do. When you mentioned a top coat, I was wondering, do you wear a type of top hat to? That is the image that comes to mind. Top coat and hat.
Hope you are nice and warm.

Stew said...

@AJ - If weather calls for a hat, I will most definately don my fidora. For many, I am the first image they see when they arive and I have to set the stage, so to speek.
I don't really like to mess up my hair though. So typically, I wear ear muffs. And yes, I'm nice and warm. I have many tricks to stay warm out there.
@ Jim - Often here, Canada's weather is blamed on us. Did you know that to get to Canada from Detroit, you have to go south.