The Caregiver's Soapbox

Volume 17    www. thedead-beat.com    Issue 3

Mortuary Muse*     Mortuary Muse

*to think or consider deeply; meditate By Lowell


A common and overused headline, “YOU MUST EMBRACE CHANGE”

I am 86 years old—I’m tired of embracing change.  As a family we have almost always at least adapted to change if not embracing it.

My grandfather changed occupations rather than sell motor driven farm machinery.  His brother Lem was also his business partner and the delivery truck driver.  The hired hand always rode in the truck with one foot on the running board if Lem was driving.  Lem had a tendency to pull back on the steering wheel and shout whoa rather than applying the brake.

On the other hand Uncle E.A. bought a 1919 Dodge Chassis Motor Hearse and never looked back.  The ‘28 Meteor Combination brought ambulance service to the community and was the first vehicle in town with hydraulic brakes.  In 1968 I put the area’s first multi-patient van ambulance in service.

I was also the first to quit ambulance service in 1969.   The two colleagues over at the county seat chickened out at the last minute, but eventually they quit also.  A neighbor in another county continued for awhile but did not pick up any of our funeral business.  The business model that brought funeral homes into the ambulance service era was certainly flawed.

COMPUTERS!!  We had the first desktop in town.  It was used in both our retail and funeral businesses.  We may have been the first in our region to print our own memorial folders and first to print the obituary on the folder.  I know we had the first holiday memorial service.  It was well received initially.  Our funeral service demographic had been eroding after WWII as we got better roads, more services provided  at the county seat and migration to the big city.

The family retail business was impacted by these changes and hurt even more by corporate mergers and acquisitions as favorite brands were changed or eliminated.  Long time relationships with factory reps were lost when management changed.

And then there were the Big Box stores.  Their impact on our business community gained ground in the ‘70’s followed by the savings and loan problems, high interest rates, drought and the recession.

We reformatted our retail business and it did fairly well, but in 1988 I decided the long term profitability did not look good.  We liquidated the store in December of 1988.  Many people expressed regrets over the store’s closing.

Continued in “The Back Fence”   

About the Author:  Lowell Pugh has had funeral director and embalmer licenses in Missouri and Texas.  He is publisher of The Dead Beat which began in 1999.  He can be contacted at The Dead Beat address. 

Copyright 2018 - The Dead Beat - all rights reserved