Monday, July 9, 2012

Please Don't Drag Me Out In The Street

I can NOT believe it's been so long since I blogged last time. I am so sorry! Life, as you can imagine, has been crazy busy. We've been working into getting moved into the house, but it's been a bit challenging - Noel was about 2 hours away working for a long time, and I've been in:

- Denver
- San Antonio (three times)
- El Paso
- Harlingen
- Dallas

So yeah, kinda all over the place. Then Noel's kids came to visit for 3 weeks!

Needless to say, because of all this traveling I have a TON of photos to post, so let's get started!

One of the really interesting things we went to see with the kids is the National Museum of Funeral History. (Yes, this place really exists, and it's AWESOME) (And also a little creepy). Don't believe me? Here's the website:

And here are some pictures! They had a neat collection of old hearses:

This is a horse-drawn carriage for children's coffins.

This is a Japanese hearse. Apparently the Japanese spend the highest amount in the world on funerals. They certainly do it in style!

This older hearse is just stylin'.

The woodwork on this carved carriage was just gorgeous. It really looks like fabric.

There were other interesting and creepy artifacts of funeral history too. This casket had a strange backstory. At the turn of the last century, the only child of a couple died. The couple was so distraught they came up with a tragic plan - the husband would kill his wife and then himself, so that they could join their beloved child in death. To this end, they commissioned a casket made specifically for the family - a 3-seater, if you will.

Now the good news is, they couple decided not to go through with their plans. The strange (and oddly amusing) end to the story is that years and years later, after the husband died, the wife tried to get their money back on this casket. Her offer was refused, and it ended up being donated by the coffin maker to the museum. It just makes me kinda like this lady - she actually wanted a refund on her specially made murder/suicide casket.  Awesome.

Sometimes people ask me why I'm interested in death rituals (I studied quite a variety of death rituals while in grad school too). My answer is, you can tell more about a culture from how they treat their dead than just about any other way. The museum had a fascinating section on Victorian death rituals.

Now, if you want to see death treated to the nth degree, check out the Victorian era. They invented the wreath upon the door tradition (as quoted by George Jones). Mirrors were covered with black cloth. They had elaborate clothing restrictions for those who were in mourning. And to top off your styling mourning ensemble, you could always add some festive death jewelry, like this:

It's made out of the hair of the deceased person. No really. They made necklaces, bracelets, watch chains, hair ornaments (and wore them not ironically), and even made pieces of jewelry to display in frames. All out of the hair of the deceased.

So good night everyone! Sweet dreams! Mwaaa haaa haaa!