3 down, 3 to go…

I must be making progress, since three of the six books I checked out of the library will be checked back in when I head into town this week.

The Chalmers Pancoast Story didn’t hold much promise when I initially looked through the front matter, although I was fascinated by the will of one of Pancoast’s long-gone ancestors, signed on November 30, 1694.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm, I forced myself to read on, and am glad I did. Pancoast’s memories of his time growing up in Ohio contain stories full of information about the activities of small-town boys. Although he was born twenty years before my father was, I don’t think things changed that much between the two generations regarding how kids amused themselves.

The second half of the book is devoted largely to his life after his newspaper reporter days. Most of it was fun to read, although of little relevance to my research. For example, he has a lot of stories about his hometown, both in his youth and as the place he returned to after his wife’s death—the place where he spent his final years.

The town, Newark, is the closest town to my current location and the place I do most of my shopping. Chal would be happy to know that, although it has changed and grown a great deal since his death, it remains a friendly small town.

I was less interested in other material, particularly his active participation in his favorite charitable group in New York when he lived there. But all in all, it was an enjoyable read and a fascinating look back on a life filled with accomplishments and certainly never dull.

The Country Undertaker’s Wife, by Cora Dodd. (Still Waters Press. Indiana. 1993), is providing information that will be useful and is fun to read. It’s mostly about how people living in the country, far from big cities that might have offered alternative practices, prepared, displayed, and buried their dead. The book is largely a series of tiny stories about some of Mrs. Dodd’s experiences. Some of them are rather surprising, and many are funny or ironic. There is nothing much about her day-to-day life other than her participation in her husband’s undertaking business. A few examples follow.

Another story is told of a wicked man who died and he, too, was taken to the church for the funeral. The minister was literally opening the Pearly Gates and pushing him through with his eulogy when the wife of the deceased (more…)

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