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SUMMER 2017 Volume 109 No. 3


Quarterly Publication

Dedicated to Professional Progress in Funeral Service

CONTENTS Making Rounds — Sharing Values 4 Jack Adams, CFSP, MBIE Burn Victims 7 Restoring Karl Wenzel, CFSP, MBIE Those Pesky Bruises: Avoiding Perpetual Touchups 10 Tim Collison, CFSP

14 Identification Dennis Daulton The Cover Sunset Beach Fishing Pier Sunset Beach, North Carolina Photo by Erin McAvoy, The Dodge Company

Death Blind 20 Glenda Stansbury, CFSP The Funeral Professional Should Play an Active Role 27 Todd Van Beck

Editor Keith Dodge

The Kismet of Keeping Things 29 Jacquie Taylor, PhD

Assistant Editor Kristin Doucet

The Desperate Ones 33 Jerome Burke

Contributing Editors Jack Adams Karl Wenzel Tim Collison Dennis Daulton Glenda Stansbury Todd Van Beck Jacquie Taylor Jerome Burke © 2017 The Dodge Company Printed in U.S.A. The opinions expressed by contributors to this magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the publisher.

Published by

The Dodge Company 9 Progress Road Billerica, MA 01821-5731 Phone: 1-978-600-2099 For Orders: 1-800-443-6343 Fax: 1-978-600-2333/ 1-800-443-4034

The Dodge Company (Canada) 1265 Fewster Drive, Mississauga Ontario, L4W 1A2 Phone: 1-905-625-0311 For Orders: 1-800-263-0862 Fax: 1-905-624-1109

The Dodge Company Unit 15 Ardglen Industrial Estate Whitchurch Hampshire RG287BB United Kingdom Phone: (011-44) 1256-893883 Fax: (011-44) 1256-893868

Website: Web Store: E-mail:

Most articles in this magazine are available as reprints at our cost.


Summer 2017

Making Rounds – Sharing Values by Jack Adams, CFSP, MBIE

Firming Feature Builder is the go-to chemical for the trouble shooter embalmer. With this chemical he or she can quickly preserve and embalm any tissue on the face or hands that did not get adequate preservation.

The Dodge Magazine

I received a call from a funeral director and friend. He had a hospice case pending and the family wanted a traditional funeral including viewing, if possible, when their father passed. The patient had an active cancerous tumor on his face and the family wanted it removed regardless of any viewing decision. I checked back with the funeral director after about three weeks and he hadn’t heard anything yet.We have all gone through this type of waiting and anticipating the pending case and probable difficulties we might have to face. Sometimes we find out the condition is not as bad as initially described. The director finally got the call that the father had passed and he received the body at the funeral home. In this case the actual condition was worse than originally described by the family. I asked the owner, who is a good embalmer, funeral director, and sometimes maintenance man, to inject the body using a firming arterial chemical. Following embalming and preservation of the facial tissue, the tumor was removed from the face using a hemostat and scalpel. After removing the tumor, he packed the underlying tissue with thin layers of cotton and Basic Dryene. I arrived at about 5:30 that night to survey the situation. The body appeared to be well-embalmed. We decided to remove some additional necrotic tissue around the outside diameter of the original tumor until we reached some stable, embalmed tissue for a better foundation for restoration. We did an undercut on the diameter of the dissection. After the tissue was thoroughly dried it allowed us to glue the lower edges of the incision and depress them to make reconstruction and wax work easier. Otherwise, you find yourself piling on the wax and then trying to disguise the raised area. This procedure eliminates that problem. I took Firming Feature Builder and injected the perimeter of the excised tissue. This was to insure the firmness of the tissue surrounding the dissection. Inside the mouth there were some sores from feeding tube appliances. The inner lip and tongue didn’t receive good preservation so I placed a cotton pack saturated with Penetrating Dryene to stay overnight to preserve the damaged inner mouth tissue. Other small areas including the lips and the area around the chin were injected

hypodermically with a diabetic needle and syringe containing Firming Feature Builder. Firming Feature Builder is the go-to chemical for the trouble shooter embalmer. With this chemical he or she can quickly preserve and embalm any tissue on the face or hands that did not get adequate preservation. With so many strokes and advances in medical science, these blockages or tiny hemorrhages can commonly cause poor circulation and spotting of tissue. There is one benefit of using some dye in the solution. Fluid with very little dye or no dye demands thorough feeling of all facial tissue to find the very soft and unpreserved spots if they exist. Either way, the embalmer needs to make sure the face and hands hold up during visitation. Even a small area of unembalmed tissue can cause skin slip, odor, and perhaps some mental anguish for a grieving family. So dye makes it easier and quicker to see how evenly preserved the tissue is. It was time to call it a day and go meet my wife and some friends for dinner. I’d be a little late but they were used to that. I returned the next day to check the results of our initial treatment of the tissue. I placed a cotton Dryene II pack over a small area of tissue where I spotted some pink coloration. Pink can mean too much moisture left in the tissue. This new Dryene II works extremely fast so the pack was removed and the tissue was very dry in about ten minutes. A layer of thin cotton was placed over the dried open tissue. The tissue was firm and dry, the first priority of any restoration. We began to apply Pore Closer on thin layers of cotton and this process was repeated with additional layers of cotton and Pore Closer. A hair dryer was used to dry the glue and cotton. Pore Closer is a good choice for razor burns or even when sealing very dehydrated tissue and preparing to cosmetize. This product is less viscous than Perma Seel and doesn’t show any edges or lines of demarcation so it is ideal for cosmetics. It may be the only sealer that is easy to cosmetize over when allowed to dry. The application over cotton dries and resembles white lava rock, a porous and firm base for wax. This makes a non-slip, ideal base for any restorative material. We used a Kalon Pigment (cream opaque


cosmetic) for covering the wax and the remaining facial tissue that had some scar tissue and blemishes but was still intact. I mixed some Kalon Pigment Suntan with a small amount of Kalon Pigment Light Brown. I moistened the brush with a little Dry Wash II and tamped the brush into the cap with some of the blended cream. This gave the Kalon cosmetic more of a syrup-like consistency and added more moisture to the original consistency of the cream. Liquid cosmetics like tints, airbrushing, or even opaque Perma cosmetic applications appear to be more natural. This is because the liquid will go into the pores of the skin and dry, but still show the pores. Opaque creams applied to cover discolorations, or even wax, look heavy and fill the skin pores until they look “pancakey.” This thinning of the cream will help allow the cosmetic to settle into the pores and dry in order to keep the natural shape of the pores. You can go over the face and waxed area easily and quickly with this mix until it is roughly covered with the cosmetic. The normal facial tissue will accept the cosmetic easily while the waxed parts will be covered, but roughly, with some uneven lines still remaining. With this moist blend of cosmetic, you can then use the side of the brush and slowly tamp the wax and remove any visible lines. This side of the brush tamping also makes more of a roughed up, natural finish to the wax. It replaces the too perfect, plastic look of all wax finishes. The back and forth paintbrush move is only good for the initial cosmetic application which is then followed by this side of the brush tamping, erasing the mannequin look. An airbrush application is ideal for covering wax as well. It all depends on the embalmer and what he or she feels comfortable with. Familiarity with several cosmetic products and mastering their application procedures can make the embalmer a more valuable cosmetician. Knowledge, skill, and having what you need on hand can give your team a level of control necessary to handle the most difficult cosmetic challenges. It is good to be able to continue your work no matter the location or availability of electrical power. Some embalmers don’t do too well with a brush. This can seriously hamper your ability to make changes or adjustments if you’re in church or at the cemetery. A successful embalmer should be able to master different types of applications in case of emergency adjustments. The left eye needed some extra care. We needed to detach the lower inner connective tissue of the scarred eyelid. Once this inner tissue was separated we were able to build the uneven sunken eye to match the normal level of the right eye. After cauterizing the delicate eye tissue, I used cotton covered with Kalip Stay Cream to raise the level of the eye and keep the eye closed without dehydrating. When applying the cosmetic over large areas that surround the tumor, you may find or see a blemish. This could be a low or high spot now more noticeable with the first cosmetic application. It is easy to wipe the cosmetic from this spot and attach

a new piece of wax with some pressure. This is the benefit of the good foundation. Once you quickly and firmly push pieces of wax on, you can smooth it by using a firm circular motion with your finger or brush with some Dry Wash II applied. This makes for a quick, accurate fix of uneven wax that is stable enough to accept the cosmetics. This adjustment of wax and cosmetic can be easily done in the casket, as long as you have a good foundation and packing of wax. It is not uncommon for a hairdresser to do an “oops move” and mess up your beautiful wax work. It is not a problem if you firmly apply a piece of wax and smooth it with your finger and Dry Wash II. I was honored to be asked to assist this very “pro-viewing” minded funeral director during these times of tougher cases and no viewing requests. This request to have a private identification and goodbye viewing turned into a full public viewing. The satisfied family made all the visitors aware of the extra efforts and the professional results of the funeral director. They proudly stayed at the casket to point out the return of the father they once knew, before this debilitating disease took over his health and appearance. Of course, the funeral director and his helper were given the credit, and there was a valuable advertisement that went with this praise. The years of odors, bandages, seclusion, and stress for the family caregivers were over. This ending could have been an extension of this stress and pain by choosing the no embalming-ID private viewing, but they chose embalming and a viewing, if possible. This was not a unanimous choice at the time of the arrangements but it turned out to be a consensus 100% good choice, after the fact. This friend and funeral director seized this opportunity and gave his family the ultimate caring service and he utilized the privilege of doing his best preparation for the body of their loved one. Families never forget this level of care and they automatically become part of your funeral home’s loyal supporters. All businesses develop these small armies through positive word of mouth. In funeral service, the importance of trust is like in no other business/customer relationship. There is no better form of advertisement than grass roots, word of mouth. There is no better way to earn a great reputation than to take on these challenging opportunities and to show your community that you really care. Reinforce the special reasons they chose you in this time of need. The “can-do” attitude should be your norm. Take it at least to the point of a private goodbye viewing, then you’re allowing them to witness the value of what you can do. Raise your bar and strive for excellence and they will notice.

It is good to be able to continue your work no matter the location or availability of electrical power. A successful embalmer should be able to master different types of applications in case of emergency adjustments.

The satisfied family made all the visitors aware of the extra efforts and the professional results of the funeral director. They proudly stayed at the casket to point out the return of the father they once knew.

Jack is Dodge’s busiest embalming educator and lecturer. Along with working for Dodge as a sales representative in northern Illinois, he is an Embalming Lab Instructor at Worsham College. Jack Adams, CFSP, MBIE


Summer 2017


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Restoring Burn Victims

by Karl Wenzel, CFSP, MBIE

Handling a body that has been burnt in a fire can be extremely difficult. The body is often charred and contracted to a point of deformation. The extremities may be extended or contorted and fixated in an unnatural position, making casketing difficult.The facial features may be burnt completely away and, in most situations, the extreme heat has contorted and fixed the tissue, making even the most minor adjustment difficult if not impossible. Over the years as an embalmer I have seen many variations of burns caused by numerous tragic events. As with any embalmer, I only remember the interesting ones after a period of time. I can remember burn victims from plane crashes, an industrial accident, and a man who was electrocuted stealing copper fittings off a hydro-transformer to name just a few. This past week I added a new one to my “ones to remember list.” According to the funeral director I spoke with, the man was killed in a car explosion while he was sitting in a local parking lot. Not much is known about the situation, but it appeared to be a successful attempt to take another person’s life. Not something I would expect in a small town in my area. It caught my curiosity so I asked the funeral director if I could help them prepare the body if the family made that type of arrangements. Several hours later I got the call, it was to be a full, traditional funeral

with VIEWING!!!! “If possible,” the director advised me, which made me feel better about the situation. The body was on route to the funeral home and expected there within the next hour. So with that I packed up my equipment and headed to the funeral home. When I arrived the body had already been placed on a preparation table in the embalming room. Upon entering the embalming room I noticed a couple of directors and the full-time embalmer were standing over the body. You could almost read their faces and they were all saying the same thing, “Where do we go from here?” The body was covered with variations of second, third, and fourth degree burns. All the hair had been seared away and the skin of the legs and arms had split due to the exposure to extreme heat. The arms were extended and reaching outwards to the front of the body. The hands were covered with severe second and third degree burns and very fragile. We knew it was a young male, however, the burns were so severe that the groin area was unrecognizable.The facial area of this man was black and charred with the lips burnt away. The nose suffered significant damage but was still recognizable, and the eyelids were closed and fixated. The neck was extended back making the head look upwards. Other than a few tattoos that could be made out on the hands, nothing was recognizable.


I can remember burn victims from plane crashes, an industrial accident, and a man who was electrocuted stealing copper fittings off a hydrotransformer to name just a few.

Summer 2017

With the hands extended forward and locked into position because of the heat, we needed some way to get the arms down into a more normal position or at least down enough for casketing.

When everything was completed he looked really good. I don’t usually say that when I complete reconstruction because we are always our own worst critics, but the embalmer and myself were very happy.

The Dodge Magazine

To say the least, this was going to be a challenging case not just to embalm, but to make viewable to the family. The director had a recent photo that was provided by the family and visual identification could not be done by looking at the photo. In further talking to the director, I learned there was no set time for viewing nor was viewing promised until we could evaluate the situation first hand. I spoke to the embalmer at the funeral home, whom I know very well, and we agreed that together we would make an attempt to do what we could and take a “let’s see” approach. We were lucky that the body had been autopsied giving us clear access to the vessels we needed for arterial injection, but were unlucky in that the body had been so severely burnt and exposed to such high heat that arterial injection was nonproductive.When we attempted to arterially embalm, the capillaries and smaller vessels had been so damaged by the fire and heat that our chemicals went nowhere. Our only option was to hypo-inject the entire body. We hypo-injected a total of 80 oz. of Introfiant mixed with 80 oz. of Proflow. The viscera was treated with 48 oz. of Dri Cav and before placing it back in the body (45 minutes later), the excess chemical was drained and Action Powder mixed with Viscerock was placed in the viscera bag. The head and face were hypo-injected as well, using a small needle and syringe with the same mixture from the embalming tank. However, in areas where I felt the heat had taken away the underlying fatty pad such as the cheeks, I used Feature Builder Firming. Feature Builder Firming has formaldehyde in it so it builds as well as preserves the area. The body was embalmed by hypo-injection and powdered extensively with Action Powder before we attempted to suture the autopsy incisions closed.We quickly realized that the tissue would not pull back together following the postmortem examination. It was like the tissue dehydrated and shrank up, so now we had another issue. On the chest and abdominal area we decided to use a basket weave stitch and pull everything together the best we could without tearing the skin. Surprisingly we were able to get the chest abdominal tissue to within about an inch and a half from being completely closed. The tissue was so affected by the heat of the fire that it actually toughened it up to sustain the pulling from the suture cord. The tissue of the head was a little different. It was charred black and leatherized, but was not strong enough to hold a strong pull from the suture cord. We again used a basket weave stitch and pulled everything as close together as we could and filled the voided area with Inr-Seel. The Inr-Seel prevents any possible leakage (which wasn’t an issue in this case), but it is also a great restorative medium for rebuilding areas such as this. The chest and abdominal area that couldn’t be completely closed was filled with Action Powder. With the hands extended forward and locked into position because of the heat, we needed some way to get the arms down into a more normal position or at least down enough for casketing. I have heard of

cutting tendons and removing the arms and all sorts of things, but I am not comfortable with things that drastic. Nor do I think the family would appreciate that treatment of their loved one. In the past when I have dealt with this type of situation I was always able to manually push the arm down and, using strong white duct tape, been able to secure the arm to the body. It may take two individuals to achieve this but it has always worked for me. I am not saying it will always work, especially if you’re dealing with a larger individual with large muscle mass, but give it a try. We were successful with this young man in doing just that. His arms were so burnt and split that the tendons were almost completely burnt away and with a little effort we secured both arms down at his side. We knew that viewing of the body itself was not really going to be possible, but we felt we might possibly be able to recreate the features of the face and give the family someone to say “goodbye” to. We placed the body into a unionall and powdered it with Action and sealed it closed. Our focus now was on recreating the facial features. Because of the fire and high heat the facial area was black due to soot so we attempted to remove a lot of that with Dry Wash II and some cloths. We did not have much success, but the area was now at least cleaner to work on. According to the picture provided, the man had a stubbly look with a beard growth of a couple of days. That was long burnt off but we could see the rough texture of the outline of the bearded area. We left that area alone as I wanted to keep that rough look as I felt it might help us later with recreating that look of a few days growth. We took 220 grit sand paper and lightly sanded the areas that looked rough or had been damaged, to smooth the areas out. Once we completed that we again took some Dry Wash II and cleaned those areas up. Now we faced the major task of making a mouth and closing the existing mouth. We used a needle injector and double wires (one on each side of the jaw) to hold the mouth closed. The teeth were clinched closed and the jaw was fixed in place. It wasn’t a concern that the mouth would open but we went through the mouth closure step anyway. With no lips or tissue around the mouth it was now up to us. For a more life-like appearance than what either of us could recreate, we decided to use a prosthetic silicone mouth. The area around the mouth where the tissue was missing was filled with Inr-Seel to give us a foundation behind it, and we then used prosthetic glue and a prosthetic mouth as a replacement for the missing tissue and lips. Once that was in place we carefully waxed around the prosthetic and blended the area in so there were no lines of demarcation. We were both surprised at how easy it was and how great this young man was beginning to look. He now looked “normal,” we just had to work on the eyes and do a little waxing and fine tuning of the nose and areas around the face that needed it. We dressed the man the best we could and placed him in the casket and made a lot of adjustments here and there just to make him look


as normal as possible. With his neck extended and him looking upwards as much as he was, he was difficult to position. Once we had him situated we began our cosmetics. With towels behind his head protecting the pillow of the casket, I sprayed some Medium Undercoat all over the facial area giving him a uniform natural color. This was just my foundation to work off of, which was far easier than the black charcoal look. Using an airbrush we completed the cosmetics. The beard was created by allowing the airbrush to “spit” larger pixels of dark cosmetics in the chosen areas. It looked incredibly real when done. We also used some false eyelashes we purchased from the local beauty store. Before we placed the eyelashes on we cut them down and made them irregular lengths so they didn’t look so artificial. During the initial clean up of the body we found in his nose a diamond stud that was completely charred over. We cleaned it up and put it back in place at the very end. The family brought in a baseball cap he always wore and when everything was completed he looked really good. I don’t usually say that when I complete reconstruction because we are always our own worst critics, but the embalmer and myself were very happy. He really looked good and there were definite visual similarities to his past self. That evening the mother, sister, and the rest of the family came in for a private visitation. They were prepared for the worst. They were told by the coroner’s office that viewing was not going to be possible and identification was confirmed through dental records. I can’t imagine what that family must have imagined their loved one looked like. Perhaps some of those images were correct, but they are not images you want a family to live with. That’s why we do what we do. The family went in to view. I was in the back, out of sight, waiting for the comments when the director came to give us the final word. The family were extremely pleased and casket was to be left open. They told the director that they could not understand why the coroner’s office said viewing was not possible. That’s when I “high-fived” the director because his response to the family was, “No one should commit on situations like that except your funeral professional. Not even coroners!” WOW! I ended up meeting the family, at their request, and I received a lot of hugs from the mother and sister. It’s a great feeling when you’ve completed a task that others may not feel is possible, but then again, those other people aren’t EMBALMERS!!

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Karl is the Coordinator of Technical Education and Training for the Dodge Company. He worked for the Arbor Group (largest independent funeral service chain in Canada) for six years as their Manager of Decedent Care and Preparational Development. Karl has been a licensed embalmer since 1997 and is licensed in Ontario. He is the Fountain National Academy Canadian Ambassador. Karl Wenzel, CFSP, MBIE


Summer 2017

Those Pesky Bruises: Avoiding Perpetual Touchups by Tim Collison, CFSP

The intern has successfully covered the bruised area, then due to the inability to find a good stopping point has applied the opaque cosmetic up to the elbow and shows every sign of continuing on to the shoulder.

The Dodge Magazine

One of the more frustrating occurrences for embalmer/cosmeticians is to walk into the reposing room the day after a body has been placed for viewing, and seeing ghosts of the bruises that were painstakingly covered with cosmetics beginning to reappear. You know that they weren’t visible when you checked the body before visitation began, but over the course of the night they have begun sneaking to the surface once again. Now the discoloration needs to be recosmetized in the casket while you try not to leave any cosmetic on the interior material. Let’s consider a different scenario. You, the sponsor, have given the intern what you feel is a good opportunity to enhance his cosmetizing skills by taking care of the hands of the deceased. They exhibit some bruising that was probably caused by I.V.’s at the hospital, did not clear with the arterial embalming, but are not too extensive. The intern has been instructed to use the standard translucent cosmetic for the hands, and then cover the bruises with an opaque cream that you normally use for this type of application. After your cup of coffee in the break room, you reenter the preparation area to find that the intern has successfully covered the bruised area, then due to the inability to find a good stopping point has applied the opaque cosmetic up to the elbow and shows every sign of continuing on to the shoulder. While the second scenario has been exaggerated to some extent, both of these situations occur frequently when we deal with discolorations and bruising. The first example, where bruising reappears, is related to ongoing post mortem processes of the remains such as the absorption of cosmetic by the skin due to instability of the embalmed tissue, the use of the wrong type of cosmetic, or an increased darkening of the bruise. The second scenario is technique driven. The intern does not have the knowledge of cosmetology necessary to restrict the use of opaque cosmetics to the bruised area. What

they have in common is that the bruise is the cause of the challenge. When a discoloration rematerializes after initially being successfully covered, one of the most frequent causes is the absorption of the cosmetic by the skin. This happens much more often when a cream cosmetic has been used for the opaque application. Many of the opaque creams such as Kalon Pigments are oil based products. If the skin tissue that the cosmetic is being applied to has not been stabilized by the embalming, the condition of the tissue can reduce the effectiveness of the cosmetic. Edematous tissue will continue to release moisture after the embalming is finished, not permitting the cosmetic to adhere and reducing its covering ability. Dry or desiccated tissue will absorb the oil base and some pigment from opaque cosmetics, also reducing the masking ability of the product. In both cases, the problems with the skin tissue cause changes in the appearance of the cosmetic treatment, allowing the bruise to begin showing through. So first and foremost, to reduce the negative effect of unstable skin tissue on the cosmetic treatment, we need to look at the choices made during the embalming process. Bruised tissue, by definition, points to a break in the circulatory system at the point in the anatomy where the bruise has occurred. Depending on the size of the break, there can be a problem with the circulation of the preservative solution. Also, the blood that has caused the bruising needs to be treated with preservative since blood decomposes and causes further problems. As long as the embalming solution reaches the area of the bruise, preservation is probable. Consideration needs to be made in the embalming solution, however, for factors such as edema or desiccation. When embalming a body that has edema, the use of a stronger, more concentrated solution (as well as additive chemicals that will remove excess fluids) will


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If you choose to hypodermically inject something other than Basic Dryene to bleach and preserve a bruised area, keep in mind that using undiluted arterial chemical may leave a spot of concentrated color, due to the dye content of the arterial.

A green or yellow toned cosmetic is sometime used over a dark bluishblack bruise in the attempt to neutralize the dark discoloration. Then a complexion colored opaque cosmetic is used over the green to match skin color.

the hypodermic injection of the Basic Dryene is done after embalming, the sooner the better, since fixation of the tissue will inhibit the bleaching action of the chemical to some extent. If you choose to hypodermically inject something other than Basic Dryene to bleach and preserve a bruised area, keep in mind that using undiluted arterial chemical may leave a spot of concentrated color, due to the dye content of the arterial. A medium index cavity chemical or a non-dyed arterial chemical such as Introfiant OTC may work better, since most cavity chemicals only contain an identification dye, not a tissue staining eosin dye. The advantages to chemically treating bruised tissue prior to cosmetizing are twofold, preservation and bleaching. The additional preservation of the bruised area will inhibit further breakdown in the tissue. The possible problems that commonly occur in untreated edematous tissue are further darkening of the area, skin slip, and even putrefaction. These conditions will make it difficult to use cosmetics successfully. The other advantage is the bleaching that can occur with the chemical treatment. Without a doubt, the more a bruise can be lightened, the easier it is to conceal cosmetically. When the skin and underlying tissue where the bruise is located has been stabilized through the use of chemical application and bleached as much as possible, the cosmetic treatment will be significantly simplified. It is a matter of the cosmetician choosing what method he or she will use to hide the discoloration. My preferred method is the use of an undercoating cosmetic, to reduce the contrast between the bruised area and the surrounding skin. This will enable the cosmetician to more easily confine the opaque cosmetic application to the discoloration and blend it into the normal skin complexion color. The undercoating technique can be accomplished with many different products. Some will choose to use a neutralizing colored cosmetic directly over the bruise to reduce the contrasting tissue color. A green or yellow toned cosmetic is sometime used over a dark bluish-black bruise in the attempt to neutralize the dark discoloration. Then a complexion colored opaque cosmetic is used over the green to match skin color. In some of the older texts, the use of silver boiler paint is recommended for the same purpose, to neutralize the underlying discoloration, and then use a complexion color over it. Aerosol based opaque cosmetics such as Undercoat are a neutral complexion color that is recommended to eliminate discoloration. It dries to form a firm yet elastic foundation for additional cosmetics to be applied over. Perma Pigments offer yet another option. These liquid cosmetic paints can be applied in successive layers to discolorations to create a firm opaque base over which additional cosmetics can be applied. The key to this part of the cosmetic process is to permanently eliminate the discoloration, then apply cosmetics which will match the normal skin complexion color. In the next article, we will look at successfully hiding bruises while minimizing the use of opaque cosmetics and their artificial appearance.

increase the chances of the skin tissue not changing after cosmetics have been applied. When embalming an emaciated or dehydrated body, humectant based arterial chemicals used alongside of appropriate humectant additive chemicals will decrease the degree of further dehydration that accompanies embalming. In both situations, the groundwork or foundation that is set with the arterial embalming will greatly increase the permanence of the preservation and preclude negative changes in the tissue. If the blood has not permanently settled into the tissue and created a post mortem stain, partial and perhaps total clearing may occur during the arterial injection. However, when the embalming solution doesn’t reach into the bruised area, or post mortem staining is present, either external packs or hypodermic injection of a preservative is required to stabilize the tissue. If the bruise is in an area that will be visible, it may be better to use hypodermic treatment than surface packs. By injecting the preservative subcutaneously, you will avoid altering the surface of the skin which could change the effectiveness of the cosmetic. This is the problem with using cavity packs on areas that are going to be cosmetized. The astringency of the chemical, while effectively preserving the tissue, also renders it extremely dehydrated. Many of us have had the experience of attempting to cosmetize the back of a hand after it has been treated with a cavity pack, with the result being that the cosmetic does not adhere to the skin, but rolls off when the brush is applied to it. A good comparison would be attempting to apply cream cosmetics to a laminated countertop. One method of hypodermic treatment that works well is using Basic Dryene or Dryene II to treat the bruised area. Using a 19 Gauge X 3” needle, direct the needle to create a fan shaped series of channels going ¼” past the border of bruise. Then inject Basic Dryene into the bruise until it slightly distends the tissue. Using finger pressure, much as you would after injecting Feature Builder, disperse the Basic Dryene into the area, and allow it to remain. The chemical in the Basic Dryene and Dryene II will preserve the tissue as well as begin to bleach the bruise. The bleaching effect will make it easier to cosmetize, since lighter discolorations are more easily covered than dark. Also, if some fading of the cosmetic does occur despite your best efforts, the underlying tissue will show up as lighter rather than darker, as would be the case if the bruise had not been bleached. This technique can be used either before beginning the arterial injection or after it has been completed. When it is used before embalming, the bleaching effect may be more extensive and immediate than if attempted after embalming. If Tim is Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Dodge. He is a regular presenter at the Dodge Seminars and is a licensed funeral director and embalmer in the State of Michigan. Tim Collison, CFSP

The Dodge Magazine


Save the Date to join for the WREATHS across AMERICA Funeral Service Tour WREATHS across AMERICA (WAA) is a program of coordinated wreath laying ceremonies on a specified Saturday in December at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as other locations in all 50 states. Wreaths from the Worcester Wreath Company in Maine are placed on the graves of our fallen heroes by thousands of volunteers. The Dodge Company has deep roots in Maine that make this partnership especially meaningful. The Funeral Service WAA Tour includes visits to significant sites in and around our Nation’s Capital led by long time coordinator Sally Belanger. Join your Funeral Service colleagues for this rewarding experience! If you can’t attend, consider sponsoring wreaths. Want more information on the Funeral Service Tour? Contact our coordinator, Sally at: or 207-406-2703 We will be applying for CEUs for participation in the entire program. Further information regarding state accreditation may be obtained by contacting Sally.

As a “Freshman” participant in WAA in 2015, I would have been hard pressed to believe that the experience could have been equaled and certainly not topped. After the 2016 program, I can state without reservation that I was gladly mistaken. This tour allowed us numerous opportunities to interact with retired and active military personnel. To meet these individuals and hear their stories and witness their dedication to their tasks as Tomb Guards, body bearers for interment services or countless other duties is humbling to say the least. — J. Hindes, Landisville, PA


017 D E C E M B13E R 1 4 -1 6 , 2

Summer 2017



by Dennis Daulton

“I’ll call the hospital,” he said. “They told me there was only one body in the morgue.” “Did you check the toe tag?” I politely asked.

The Dodge Magazine

“It looks just like him,” the funeral director said as he held a picture next to the deceased’s face. I had just finished shaving the face and setting the features and was about to raise the carotid artery. This was simply a trade-call and I knew few folks in this particular town, so the deceased’s name and photo meant nothing to me. The deceased just so happened to be a friend of this aging funeral home owner, which is not unusual in a small town. I recall nodding my head in agreement, just to be polite, saying nothing. I didn’t study the picture, except to look at the facial expression in an attempt to detect any weight loss. I almost always add one bottle of Restorative to a two-gallon solution if there is no edema and several bottles or more if there is emaciation. “The family is coming in tonight to drop off the clothes and to select a casket. I got most of the information at their home this afternoon after making the removal from the hospital. I’ll see you before you leave, Dennis. Oh, your check is on the stairway. Thanks for helping out. I can’t work like I used to,” my friend said as he left the room and gently closed the door behind him. He was grateful, and so was I for the work and to benefit my family. Whenever we embalmers hear that a family is coming in a certain protocol begins. The radio is turned down to a whisper and instruments are placed on paper towel or Webril on the table to muffle any sounds. Some embalming rooms abut the casket selection room. I know of several families who heard noises while in the selection room and wondered if what they were hearing might be their loved one being prepared. That indeed is a chilling thought. We must be totally cognizant of what is going on in the funeral home before a family arrives. There are other general concerns we should also be aware of. Is the facility vacuumed and dusted? Has it been straightened up since the last funeral? Are the fingerprints removed from the conference

room desk/table since talking with your last family? Is the air stale? Is there unnecessary noise coming from other areas such as the office, garage, or the embalming room? So there I stood in my friend’s embalming room almost 30 years ago. The radio was turned down and Webril was on the table. There was something else I had done. Early on I was taught to cover the genital area of the dead human body during embalming. Of course, the covering is removed when we topically disinfect and wash the body. Then the covering goes back on. During this time period when we are preparing the deceased we must never neglect to show respect by this gesture. Whether they are male or female, young or old, rich or poor, everyone should be treated the same. It becomes automatic. A paper towel or Webril prep towel works well as the covering. Sometimes you may need to wet the upper edge to have it stay in place. I was startled when the embalming room door suddenly opened and the funeral home owner appeared with a younger man by his side. There was no introduction. At first I thought the man might be the medical examiner who had come to view and sign a cremation order. But there had been nothing mentioned about cremation. Who could he be, I wondered. The younger man then said, “That’s not my father.” They both then turned and left the room. This was all so odd. It seemed as if I was invisible to them. Not my father? What is going on, I thought. I had nearly completed the embalming at that point. I then realized how glad I was that I hadn’t made the removal. Somehow, I felt responsible because I was a part of this picture and perhaps could have avoided what was about to unfold. I knew there would be a lesson learned this evening and there was. The funeral director returned to the embalming room after the family left. Although he seemed calm, I kept my head down and my mouth shut as


I completed the task at hand. I now wished I was elsewhere. I had known the funeral director before I had taken on this trade account. He was humble, low-key, and the epitome of what a good funeral director and a good person should be. Many years later I embalmed both him and his wife upon their respective passing. “I’ll call the hospital,” he said. “They told me there was only one body in the morgue.” “Did you check the toe tag?” I politely asked. “No, because the nursing supervisor said there was only one down there,” he replied. First lesson, don’t believe anyone. I then searched the rubbish and found the wrist and toe identification tags, along with the one which was attached to the pouch that the funeral home owner disposed of. Read carefully all ID tags and leave at least one on the body. Sure enough, they had a different name listed. I know of an instance where the name of the living patient in the bed next to the deceased was written on the identification tags by hospital personnel. This error was discovered by removal service personnel upon their arrival at the medical facility. I then took a moment to carefully study the previously mentioned photograph. There was a very strong resemblance to this unknown male I had just embalmed. “What made you question this might be the wrong body?” I asked. The son had mentioned that because his father was jaundiced he was concerned about the color of the interior of the casket the family wanted to purchase. This body was devoid of color before I started to embalm, which prompted the funeral director to bring the son into the embalming room. You never know when that door may be opened, either intentionally or by accident. If you are the arranging director, if at all possible, you should always view the remains before the conference with the family. And if you haven’t seen the remains, such as when there is a delay in the removal, always ask if there is something about the deceased that you should be aware of. The hospital was called. Sure enough, they had had two bodies there. The funeral director removed the one that was in a small single cooler in the autopsy room. The second was in the gurney which he hadn’t checked. The gurney looks like a bed, but with a stretcher underneath. This allows for the discreet transfer of the remains from a hospital room to the morgue at all hours. My friend informed the hospital what had happened, that he was taking the wrong body back, and that the right one would be removed. He also secured the name of the funeral home who was handling the arrangements on the case I had embalmed. The other funeral director was very understanding and gracious. He even offered to pay for the embalming, an offer which, of course, was declined. Fortunately, this was not a medical school donation case (I had done the cavity work) or someone whose religion prohibits embalming. I was asked to do the transfer, returning the wrong body and securing the right one.

After a long day in the office at Dodge those many years ago, this night was becoming very long as I headed to the small regional hospital fifteen miles away from the funeral home. I was still two hours away from my home after my work at the funeral home would end. As I drove the lonely highway, the hearse radio was tuned into some relaxing music. My anxiety was dissipating somewhat, and my thoughts were about funeral service. I was trying to figure out what this calling deep within us is all about. It has never been about the hours or the money, otherwise we all would have left it years ago. I’ve searched for nearly a lifetime for the answer. And so have many of you. I thought about all the details we must attend to, and how careful we must be with every action, especially when making the removal. I know of many funeral home owners and managers who constantly fret about their personnel removing the right body. How lucky the funeral director was that the family knew their loved one was jaundiced. More about that later! The other funeral director said an attorney was handling the arrangements for his case. There was to be embalming, but a closed casket and no viewing. If the family being served by my friend had wanted the same this error might never have come to light…unless, of course, the other funeral director had been careful in checking the identification on his case. My mission at the hospital was complete and I returned to the funeral home with the correct body. I had checked the toe tag. Would you believe the man was NOT jaundiced! There wasn’t even any yellowing in the sclera of the eye where jaundice first appears. I can only assume that the family saw their loved one losing color during his last days and assumed this was jaundice. How bizarre! If their false assumption had never arisen they would have walked into the funeral home only to view a stranger. This could happen anywhere, and it has, which is music to a lawyer’s ears. By the time I left the funeral home in the early morning hours of the next day, I had learned a good lesson, several lessons, and so had my seasoned friend. Assume nothing. Check toe tags. Never rely on a tag outside the pouch or on the wrapping. If you’re making a removal from a nursing home and the deceased does not have a bracelet or some identification on the body (not all do), ask that one be put on. At the very least, write down the nurse’s full name that brought you to the bedside. I once refused to remove a body of a DOA patient from a hospital morgue until hospital personnel affixed an ID tag. I, too, heard, “There is only one down there.” There was only one down there and I knew the woman, but I wasn’t about to take her without hospital identification affixed to her body. At a nursing facility look for a name tag over the bed or on the door. Of course, bodies are not marked when we are making a house removal. But if you are running a removal service you’ll need a policy in place for identifying every deceased. This will prevent taking the wrong body to the wrong funeral home. Some will keep ID bracelets in the


As I drove the lonely highway, my thoughts were about funeral service. I was trying to figure out what this calling deep within us is all about. I’ve searched for nearly a lifetime for the answer.

Summer 2017

The discovery came after several days when her head and face bandages were removed. At the bedside the family members of the other woman were shocked. Their daughter had already been cremated.

pocket of their stretcher which are marked and placed on the deceased in front of the family before the deceased is taken from the home. Some states require the use of an ID tag prior to interment. Check with your state for details. Dodge offers several types of ID bands. When I finally left my friend’s funeral home to make the long drive home, I was half-elated and half-troubled. The elation was because the funeral director insisted upon paying me for two embalmings and two removals. I was somewhat troubled because I felt partially responsible for this fiasco. When I didn’t see a toe tag or ID band I probably should have searched the rubbish for it. Then, when he told me this was his friend as he held the photo next to the man’s face, I could have politely asked, “What is his name?” The mix-up could have been addressed then. This funeral home came dangerously close to presenting the wrong body, or two men could easily have been buried in the wrong graves miles apart if viewing had been declined. All of us can learn from our own mistakes and the mistakes and omissions of others. We must constantly be vigilant in properly carrying out the most basic responsibility of our profession, to respectfully care for someone’s loved one, and it better be the right loved one. Taking the time to properly identify the case in question will prevent unnecessary stress, embarrassment, and legal problems. Because of recent litigation I know that the policy at many funeral homes is to have all bodies identified. If physical viewing is declined or not possible because of distance, especially on the direct cremation cases, a photo is taken of the deceased and the next of kin can sign the back of it before the cremation or burial takes place. It would be prudent to retain one of the attached identification tags supplied by the medical facility and place it in a Zip-loc® bag to be retained in the deceased’s permanent file. Short of this would be to take a photo of it. If the body has not been removed from the place of death and a family refuses to view, or look at a photo and sign it, I know of several funeral homes that will decline their services. It is better to lose a call than it is to lose a lawsuit. Not too many years ago there were two young women who were at a house party with their male dates. It was around Christmas time. All four were troubled folks who were deep into self-abuse. One of the men lit a firecracker and threw it on the floor. It landed near a dry Christmas tree and ignited it. The men escaped the burning structure. Firemen heroically rescued the two women who ran to a rear bedroom where they became trapped. They

were taken to the local hospital. One was deadon-arrival. The second woman was airlifted to a metropolitan trauma center forty miles away. At the first hospital identification of the two women was made by non-family members. The deceased was also transported to the same metropolitan city, where the medical examiner’s office was located. Several days later a funeral home was called to handle the direct cremation (no embalming, no viewing) of the deceased woman. Her divorced husband came in with his two underage daughters to make the arrangements. Although the body could have been embalmed and seen, she had died of smoke inhalation, they opted for direct cremation. The cremation took place and all was well … until the funeral director was notified that the person he had arranged cremation for actually was the one recovering in the hospital. The discovery came after several days when her by Lee Guttentag head and face bandages were removed. At the bedside the family members of the other woman were shocked. Their daughter had already been cremated. There was much news coverage and many sleepless nights for this good, caring funeral director. Yes, he was sued along with the crematory, and lost. The insurance company for the funeral home covered the loss. The crematory is a nonprofit corporation so they were capped at $20,000. The medical examiner released a body not properly identified and no fault was found by their actions. It appears that this lawsuit had no negative effect on the funeral home. According to a relative of the family who brought the lawsuit, the brother of the deceased who encouraged his elderly parents to sue the funeral home has been scorned by neighbors, former friends, and other relatives. At the conclusion of the trial the judge stated, “The funeral home is the last chance to correct the mistakes of others.” That is a startling statement and one which we all should take heed of. The worst regrets in life are those for actions we could have easily taken, but didn’t. After conferring with your attorney, you might consider a protocol regarding identification of all deceased bodies in your care. According to one judge we are responsible to correct the errors of others. Another judge might have ruled differently. Author’s Note: Approximately a year after the trial, the father of the attorney who represented the family that sued the funeral home died. He was a well-known and respected attorney whose family historically always used another local funeral home. This time the attorney called the funeral home that had been sued to care for her father. One doesn’t turn over their loved one to someone they don’t like or trust. She may have been pleased with the outcome of the trial, but I believe her actions in calling this particular funeral director for her father speaks volumes about how she actually felt about the judge’s ruling. What do you think?

Dennis divides his time working in his Dodge sales territory in northeastern Massachusetts, and being in the office manning the technical support line, along with helping out with customer service. Dennis Daulton

The Dodge Magazine


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You Deserve a Smarter Website. CFS builds completely custom websites loaded with features and maintained with unparalleled support. And, we do all this without charging you a dime — ever. We’ve done it for over 3,600 funeral homes and we’ll do it for you. Speak to your Dodge Rep, call 888-881-6131 or go to to find out how.

The Dodge Magazine


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No Kidding | 888-881-6131 © Copyright 2017 Consolidated Funeral Services, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Summer 2017 19

Death Blind by Glenda Stansbury, CFSP

He died in our arms at 5:00 that morning. It was awful, it was an honor, it was heartbreaking, and it was exactly right.

The Dodge Magazine

We lost Max the Wonder Dog. If you remember, we introduced you to Max in 2015 during our discussion of pet services. As most empty nest, baby boomer pet owners will attest, this little guy was our kid, “our little boy,” as my husband would say. He brought joy, aggravation, warmth, and unconditional love to our home for ten years. He became sick very suddenly, and all of the vet professionals who saw him thought he just had a case of vertigo which made him dizzy and walk like a drunken sailor. But, after three weeks, he deteriorated quickly and we knew that he was not going to make it back from whatever brain event was going on. The last night, when he was unable to even stand, we put him in bed with us and promised that we would call the mobile vet the next morning. It was time. And, so it was, because he died in our arms at 5:00 that morning. It was awful, it was an honor, it was heartbreaking, and it was exactly right. So, we got out of bed with the body of our little guy, wrapped him in his paw print blanket, and put him on the ottoman where he loved to nap, and sat down. What do you do at five in the morning? I called the pet cemetery/crematory that I knew well. I had taken students out there for field trips on many occasions. They were a family business that had been around for 30 years — long before pet services were “a thing.” I knew the owner and felt that I could trust them with this most precious member of my family. Someone answered my call with, “Hello.” I wasn’t even sure that I had called the right number, but I just plugged along, saying, “Our dog just died and we need to bring him in to you. What time do you open?” Amazingly, they had no hours of operation on their website. The voice said, “Nine.” No condolence. No words of comfort. No offering to come pick him up. A question was asked and it was answered and it was five in the morning. I said, “OK, thank you,” and hung up. And Joe and I sat for four hours looking at our sweet little Pug that had meant the world to both of us. This particular pet firm is almost 25 miles from where we live, so we bundled Max up and got in the car and drove and got there at 8:50AM. And sat. And sat. And sat. 9:00AM and no one was there. 9:15AM and no one was there. I finally called the owner to ask what was going on and she just said, “Oh, they must be late.” Now 15 minutes in the big scheme of things doesn’t seem like a big deal. But when you are sitting in your car with your dead pet

in your arms, it’s an eternity. Finally, at 9:30AM, a car came speeding up the driveway and a young man went in the back door. You could see him scurrying around, turning on lights, and getting things opened up. But he never came out of the door to invite us in. We finally just shrugged and got out of the car and walked in. He was obviously flustered. We stood there holding Max and he said, “What can I do for you?” Ummm. . . I’m standing here with a dead dog in my arms. Exactly what do you think you can do for me? I said, “We would like to have our Max cremated,” and he said he was just a guy that worked in the back and couldn’t help us. So, we continued to stand there. Another car came racing up and a woman ran in carrying her breakfast in a McDonald’s bag. She did not acknowledge us until she went to the kitchen, put up her breakfast, got her coffee and then sat at her desk and said, “What can I do for you?” Again, ummm…. I said, again, “We need to have our Max cremated.” No words of condolence or comfort. “OK, how much does he weigh? This is how much it will cost. We will have him ready on Saturday.” The young man took Max from us and my husband asked for the blanket back. He forgot, so we had to find him to get our blanket back. And we walked out. As we got in the car, Joe said, “What kind of Gotebo place did you bring me to?” [Vernacular explanation—Gotebo (pronounced Go tee bow) is a very, very small town in southwest Oklahoma. Over the years the name has also become slang for hick, backwards, unprofessional. No offense to Gotebo—there are some very nice people who live there.] Joe was mad and uncomfortable with the treatment that we received and, if given a choice, would have grabbed Max back from the flustered kid and figured out a different plan. As it was, he worried all the way home about how they were going to treat Max and if we were even going to get “our little boy” back or would he be mixed in with other pets? All I could do was say how surprised I was at the treatment and lack of empathy, but I was sure that they would take good care of Max. He was ready Saturday morning as they promised and Joe sped out to pick him up, not wanting him to stay at that place one minute longer. Our dear friends at The Dodge Company gave us a beautiful Howard Miller urn with a picture frame and we set up our Max shrine, with his picture, his food bowls, his collar, his water bottle, and the Tupperware containers that held his food. I told my


Las Vegas, NV November 9 & 10, 2017 Flamingo Hotel & Casino Details and Registration information for the Dodge Technical Seminar is on the next few pages. For more detailed information, visit the Dodge Seminars tab at


Las Vegas, NV

Hotel Reservation & Rate Information Flamingo Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas 3555 Las Vegas Boulevard South Las Vegas, NV 89109 702-733-3111

Set on the famous four corners of Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road, this Las Vegas hotel combines heart-pounding excitement with hospitality and service that's second to none.

Run of the House5RRPV


Tuesday, November 7th - Saturday, November 11th = $85.00 / night

Rates & fees are for single/double occupancy and do not include applicable taxes & fees.

Check-in: 4:00pm / Check-out: 11:00am Additional persons will be charged at a rate of $30.00 per person, per night, with a maximum of four (4) persons per guestroom.

Resort Fees: A daily resort fee of $25.00 per room, per night will be charged in addition to the room rates listed above. This fee includes: Ÿ Unlimited local phone calls (no long distance or international calls) Ÿ Two (2) guest admissions per day to the Fitness Center (does not include use of the spa) Ÿ In-Room Internet access to include one (1) device per room, per day

Reservations can be made by calling the hotel directly at (888) 373-9855, referencing our Group Code: SFDOD7 - Dodge Technical Seminar or by booking online at Cut-off date to make hotel reservations at the group rate is Sunday - October 7, 2017 Please Note: All reservations made via the telephone call center will be assessed a fee of $15.00 per reservation. This fee will not apply to reservations made via the internet.

All reservations must be guaranteed with a deposit for the first night’s guestroom and tax charge. If reservation is guaranteed to a credit card, the first night’s guestroom and tax charge, per guestroom, will be billed immediately to the cardholder’s account. Notice of cancellation must be received 72 hours prior to your arrival date in order to receive a full refund of your deposit. Each guestroom must have at least one (1) registered guest 21 years of age or older. The Dodge Institute For Advanced Mortuary Studies 9 Progress Road Billerica, MA 01821 TEL (800) 443-6343 / (978) 600-2099 - SECURE FAX (978) 600-2336 ~ ~


Las Vegas, NV





Matt Black

9:00am -

9:00am -

Karl Wenzel


Embalming Tricks & Treats Airbrushing Tips and Other Helpful Hints


Jaundice: More Than Just Color

11:00am -

Jacquie Taylor

10:15am -


The Embalmer’s Paperwork


Rory McKeown Difficult Cases...Overcoming the Obstacles Jack Adams

12:30pm - LUNCH For Registered Seminar

11:30am -

Donor Case Embalming Restoration of Long Bone & Skin Donation Cases, Part 2



1:30pm -

John Krenn

DONE For The Day -


Tissue Recovery & Allograft Usage

Enjoy The Afternoon!


Jack Adams

2:45pm 3:45pm

4:00pm 5:00pm

CEUs: Continuing education credits for licensed funeral directors and embalmers will be available, pending individual state/province approvals. Due to high-fee filing requirements, Karl Wenzel we no longer apply for credits from Virginia. Almost Anything Is Possible: We’ll be applying for a total of 9 credits - 6 for Thursday & 3 for Friday. Recreation of Physical Features for Identification Donor Case Embalming Restoration of Long Bone & Skin Donation Cases, Part 1

The Dodge Institute For Advanced Mortuary Studies 9 Progress Road Billerica, MA 01821 TEL (800) 443-6343 / (978) 600-2099 - SECURE FAX (978) 600-2336 VHPLQDUV#GRGJHFRFRPaZZZGRGJHFRFRPaVKRSGRGJHFRFRP

DODGE TECHNICAL SEMINAR November 9-10, 2017 Æ‘Thursday Æ‘Friday Æ‘Both Days

Las Vegas, NV

1st Registrant: _________________________________________________ FD/Emb. Lic. # & State: _________________________________________________________________ Email Address: __________________________________________________________________ A seminar confirmation will be e-mailed when registration is received.

Æ‘Thursday Æ‘Friday Æ‘Both Days

2nd Registrant: _________________________________________________ FD/Emb. Lic. # & State: __________________________________________________________________ Email Address: ___________________________________________________________________ A seminar confirmation will be e-mailed when registration is received.

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EARLY REGISTRATION DEADLINE: October 9th 2 Day Program - Thursday & Friday 1st Registrant - $445 / After 10/09/17 - $495 2nd Registrant - $395 / After 10/09/17 - $445

1st Registrant: $____ ____ 2nd registrant must be from the same 2nd Registrant : $_______ ____ organization to get Total: $_______ ________ the discounted rate.

Full Day Program - Thursday Only

Registration Cancellation Policy:


1st Registrant - $345 / After 10/09/17 - $395 2nd Registrant - $295 / After 10/09/17 - $345

If cancellation is made on/before November 1st, you will be refunded the full registration fee. After November 1st, a $100 cancellation fee will apply. Cancellation must be made in writing via mail, fax or e-mail to the addresses listed below.

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† Outside Dodge Block

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The Dodge Institute For Advanced Mortuary Studies 9 Progress Road Billerica, MA 01821 TEL (800) 443-6343 / (978) 600-2099 - SECURE FAX (978) 600-2336 VHPLQDUV#GRGJHFRFRPaZZZGRGJHFRFRPaVKRSGRGJHFRFRP

But, unfortunately, it is too often business as usual. A van or coach pulls up, a well-dressed person gets out, pulls the cot out of the back and walks up to the door. “Hello. My name is Eddie Embalmer from the Bet Your Life Funeral Home. I’m so sorry for your loss. Can you direct me to the body?” The focus is on logistics and legalese. Get the body on the cot. Get permission to embalm. Set a time for arrangement. Leave a packet of way too much information that no one in grief has the time or energy to look through and get out. We become death blind. We fail to understand that this is the only time in this family’s life that they are going to have to deal with this death. We don’t stop to hear the tears or the stories. This is the third call of the night and we are just tired and want to be done. It’s just another first call. We are sitting on a pile of bad habits and old traditions and saying, “I don’t see what the problem is.” Or, we have given up that part of our business altogether. I have heard from more funeral directors than I care to count, “I want my directors to be fresh and ready to meet families, not dragging around at all hours of the night. So, we contract that portion of our business out to a third-party.” I’ve been there when those third-party employees show up. They are intent on not answering questions because, of course, they don’t know the answers. You get a lot of, “You’ll have to ask your funeral director about that. Here is the funeral director’s number if you want to call and ask.” It’s the little flustered guy at the pet crematory flying around and saying, “I can’t help you,” as my husband mutters, “Gotebo” under his breath. Their job is clear — pick up that body. They are uncomfortable and unwilling to engage with the family. I don’t care how professional or wonderful you think your third-party removal service is — it’s not you! I hired you! Why aren’t you here? I’ve got a little secret for you. It doesn’t matter how fresh your directors are in the morning to meet for arrangements if you have already lost the family from the encounter the night before. You get one chance to make a first impression. Trite but true. And at no time is a first impression more crucial and critical than when a family is in turmoil and emotional and looking for guidance from the professional they called. Our experience with our mother was welldocumented in an article that Doug wrote six years ago for this magazine titled “Job Well Done, Needs Missed.” Many of you read it and we were flooded by responses. Some expressed condolences over the death of Barbara, some were saddened by the story of the lack of touch and care that Doug described. And some were outraged and incensed that Doug would dare criticize the industry that has supported his writings and his books for so long. It was fascinating. But, the point here is, for those of you who do not remember or were not readers of The Dodge Magazine at the time, Doug described our experience with first call after his wife, my mother, Barbara, died in ICU after only being critically ill

sisters that when I die, there is no way Joe will set up a shrine like that for me. This was his “little boy.” As I reflected on that experience, I thought, “Wow, that must be how a lot of first call situations unfold and how families feel.” Now, I can hear you saying, “But, Glenda, that was a pet crematory. That would never happen in a human firm.” Not so fast, my friends. I have mentioned before that I watch the TV show, Hoarders. Yes, it’s a sick little secret, but I’m fascinated by the psychology and pathology of how people develop these obsessions and neuroses. I use the example of hoarders when we talk about unresolved grief — that the genesis of all hoarding situations was a result of a loss or trauma that was never dealt with. “I’ve lost too much; I can’t lose anything else.” But there is another element to hoarders that I think we should focus on for this conversation. During the show, when the therapist first comes to the house to meet the person and assess the situation, usually the hoarder is completely unaware as to the depth and breadth and danger of their living environment. They sit on five feet of clothing, trash, dog poop, and moldy food and say, “It’s not that bad. I don’t know why my family is so upset.” The terminology that is used to describe this phenomenon is “clutter blind.” They have become so accustomed to living like this day in and day out that they truly cannot see the stacks of trash and stuff that climbs to the ceiling. It’s just their house. It’s just how they live. What’s the big deal? I believe in our profession that we face the dangerous habit of becoming “death blind.” It’s another call, it’s another body, it’s a 2:00PM on Tuesday service, and we become immune to the emotions and the needs of the families we come in contact with every day. And that’s what leads to hurtful and empty interactions at first call and beyond. “What can I do for you?” “Ummmm…” First call. That opportunity to touch a family at the unique and sacred moment. The death has just occurred. The reality of loss has not even begun to sink in. The raw emotion and whirl of uncertainty is whipping around. This is the perfect territory for a funeral professional. A calm presence, a font of wisdom, a steady hand for the rocky path ahead, an understanding heart that can sit down and say, “I’m so sorry about your father. What a terrific loss this is. We are honored that you have chosen us to care for you and for Mark and we are going to walk with you every step of the way as you begin to make sense of the death and honor this life that was lived. I know you are spinning right now and don’t even know what questions you might have. But, if it’s OK with you, let’s just sit here for a bit and talk about Mark and his life and we’ll be sure, before I leave, that I’ve answered anything you can think of right now. And, of course, you can call at any time before we get together tomorrow,” And then, after spending some time with the family and assuring them that they have been heard AND listened to, the director says, “Are you ready for me to take your father into our care?”


We become death blind. We fail to understand that this is the only time in this family’s life that they are going to have to deal with this death. We don’t stop to hear the tears or the stories.

Summer 2017

If we have any hope of prolonging the life of this profession that we hold dear and depend upon for our livelihood, then we had better start examining all of our behavior when it comes to first call.

for two days. We, the entire family of 25, waited for an hour in the ICU waiting room at 1:00 in the morning for the funeral director to arrive. Again, an hour in the big scheme of things doesn’t seem terrible, but when you are in shock after a loss, it seems like an eternity. Finally, a man in a suit got off the elevator pulling a cot. My first thought was, “Great! Someone is here to take care of us.” Then, I stopped and realized that the person that the firm sent was one of their retired part-timers. I’d seen him at services, opening doors and handing out service folders. He was so out of his element that it was painful to watch. He walked up to Doug and me and said, “So…what ‘cha thinking?” Doug looked puzzled and I did the “funeral director interpretation” for him. “He wants to know if we are going to embalm.” That was it. No words of concern, caring, or condolence. Get the permission to embalm, get the body, and get out! Death blind. Needless to say, that when we walked into the funeral home the next day and met the fresh and well-rested funeral director for arrangements, we were angry and, honestly, there was very little he could say that could assuage that. We were abandoned at our first hour of need. There is no making that up. One of the classes that I’m given the opportunity to teach in the mortuary program at UCO is Communication in Funeral Service. According to the curriculum guide from the American Board, this class is an amalgamation of psychology of grief, guidelines for effective communication during arrangement, the history of the study of grief, and some public speaking elements. The curriculum guide for first call focuses mainly on the transactional process—how to answer the phone, get the information, transport the body. There is very little emphasis on the relational aspects of our business, how to create bonds of trust and communication with the family. I tell my students every semester, “We are going to go through the items listed in the curriculum that might be a part of your Board exams. Then . . . I’m going to teach you how to talk to families.” We use Doug’s Power of Presence book and DVD and talk about buckets and what might be in the buckets of the families they serve. I give them little buckets at the end of the semester to remind them that that is their first job — to get in the bucket with the family and be present to their needs and their emotions. When I visit with my students who are apprenticing at firms while in school, my first question is always the same, “What kind of training did you receive for first call?” The answer is almost

always the same, “None.” Oh, they might have taught them how to maneuver the cot or where the morgue is in each of the hospitals. But, to sit down and teach them how to respond to a family, how to be present, how to listen, that’s not happening. When I ask the students what they are most afraid of when considering this career, the answer is almost always the same, “First call. I don’t know what to say or how to act.” But, no matter, we send these students out to interact at the most difficult and tender time in a family’s experience with less training than you would get in becoming a greeter at Walmart. So, in class we practice. We talk about what a family might be feeling before you ring the doorbell. What’s happening if it’s a suicide? How about a long-term, chronic illness? What’s in their bucket if their baby died? If we can visualize the feelings, the needs, the questions, and the atmosphere that might be going on behind that door, then we can prepare ourselves to be in the moment, engaged and focused on providing the very first expressions of care. One of my students told me a story about watching the director she worked with standing impatiently at the coach waiting for the family to be ready for their loved one to be transported. She was visibly angry that it was taking so long and, finally, she pulled the cot out of the coach and just stood by it, clearly sending a message that they, the grieving family, were wasting her time. Thankfully my student thought that was not correct behavior and asked me about it. But, how many apprentices are watching mechanical, uncaring, and death blind examples every day? It’s just another first call. OMG!! If we have any hope of prolonging the life of this profession that we hold dear and depend upon for our livelihood, then we had better start examining all of our behavior when it comes to first call. When families have choices, and they do, they will not tolerate being just another family and being treated with the same kind of attention as at a pet crematory. Sometimes worse! Do you have a training protocol for all employees for first call? Do you debrief with your employees/apprentices after first call to see how things went and problem solve if they ran into an issue? Have you actually watched the third-party company you’ve hired to see how they treat your families? Do you have a clue how death blind your directors are? Are they going through the motions or are they capable of offering honest empathy and warmth? Would my husband look at your staff and call them Gotebos? I hope not. For the sake of your firm and, especially, for the sake of your families. We still miss Max and I haven’t yet been able to convince Joe that we need another dog. He thinks there will never be another dog like “our little boy.” That’s true. And I wish that when I think about that awful day that he left us, that I could remember some wonderful people who took care of us and understood how very hard this was. That would have been really nice.

Glenda Stansbury, CFSP, MALS is the Dean of the InSight Institute of Funeral Celebrants, VP of InSight Books, adjunct professor for UCO Funeral Service Department and a practicing Certified Funeral Celebrant. You can contact her at

The Dodge Magazine


The Funeral Professional Should Play an Active Role In bygone days there was a method of “arranging” a funeral which was called “the indirect method” of counseling. At the core of this funeral arranging approach was the idea that the funeral director should play an entirely passive role in the decisionmaking processes that the “family” was engaged in. One funeral director who was a disciple of this approach once told me, “When I make arrangements I don’t even want the family to notice that I am in the room.” I believe the indirect approach was created because of our profession’s longstanding sensitivity to being seen as “high pressure salespeople” or “taking advantage of the bereaved.” However, I cannot disagree with this type of approach more. Just imagine this scenario. The bereaved family has seen one or two caskets in their entire lives. Now, today the door is opened and they are looking at twenty-one caskets, as well as urns and keepsakes, and they are in the room alone. Do you think this type of situation creates a vulnerable and possibly high-risk situation? A situation analogous to this would be for a fellow like me wanting to buy an airplane, and the airplane professional opens up a door to a hanger that has twenty-one airplanes and leaves. A guy like me wouldn’t have a chance! The reason this approach flopped so many years ago is that, while some funeral professionals were attracted to it, our valued client families did not like it. Bereaved clients are not attracted to passive helping. I do not see the funeral professional as serving a passive role in the least. On the contrary, I

by Todd Van Beck

perceive the funeral professional as active at all times. I am not implying that he/she should talk a great deal, but I am saying that he/she should make their presence and interest continuously felt – throughout the entire funeral home experience, not just the interview. The funeral professional should be active in giving of themselves when they feel it is important to be helpful to the client family. At all times, the effective funeral professional should be active in revealing to the client family that they are indeed trusted and interested people who are deeply involved with the welfare of the client family. The question then is not whether the funeral professional will be of assistance, help, and counsel, or not (for most anybody can fill out the necessary funeral forms), the larger question is will this assistance, help, and counsel be based on active wisdom and care, on active insight and compassion, on active trust and respect? Primary to this vital role is that the funeral professional is, and acts, as a genuine person. As funeral interviewers we contribute of ourselves and our professional knowledge to help the client family, and not simply to display our brains or our splendid personal qualities. The funeral interviewer reveals what they themselves see and understand, what they think the client family is thinking and feeling, in order to help him/her look deeper and try harder to reach his/her inner self to make the type of decisions that give peace of mind and the feeling that one has done the right thing – the combined psychological health of these two feelings


I perceive the funeral professional as active at all times. I am not implying that he/she should talk a great deal, but I am saying that he/ she should make their presence and interest continuously felt.

Summer 2017

We bring our knowledge, experience, professional skills, the information we possess, and the resources at our command, and above all else, a genuine committed love of the profession in which we serve.

Funeral professionals are usually where the action is. Doing something constructive is an important way of moving people through a crisis. Inner balance can be sustained by outer action.

is absolutely priceless, no dollar sign can ever be attached to this – never! Coming right down to it in this ongoing quest for substance and meaning, what do funeral professionals as interviewers actually bring to the helping interview? Essentially, we bring our knowledge, experience, professional skills, the information we possess, and the resources at our command, and above all else, a genuine committed love of the profession in which we serve. It follows then that the continuous student (going considerably beyond Mortuary College and the National Board requirements) of every single aspect of the funeral service profession will in the end be most effective by possessing the most knowledge to assist family clients by offering suggestions, help, and counsel in their once-in-a-lifetime decisionmaking experience. Here are four suggestions to help the funeral professional stay active throughout the funeral process. Ponder these and add to them.


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One: They use themselves first and foremost. If the funeral professional is calm, understanding, and clearly concerned, as well as obviously wanting to be helpful, he or she sets the stage for a positive response on the part of those being served. Two: Funeral professionals are usually where the action is. Doing something constructive is an important way of moving people through a crisis. Inner balance can be sustained by outer action. Having people do things helps to confirm reality, express feelings, and gain group support. Three: Funeral professionals help people express their feelings. The funeral professional is usually present when feelings are intense. The funeral professional within the safe harbor of the funeral interview can provide the personal attitude and social atmosphere within which the appropriate deep grief feelings can be expressed and, most importantly, accepted and understood. Four: The funeral professional also has quick access to items of memory and memorial creativity which can help the mourners experience deeper expression and find deeper significance in the selected services and goods which they decide upon and invest in. The funeral professional who is keenly aware of these four points and who uses them in an active, not passive, way will find greater success in their communication with their client families. Being yourself, being thick in the action, allowing the expression of feelings, and having at your immediate access valuable remembrance and memorial items, is a wonderful way to further assist the families we serve to the best of our abilities.

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The Dodge Magazine



Todd is the Director of Continuing Education at John A. Gupton College in Nashville, Tennessee. Read Todd’s latest book now out and available on Amazon, Reverence for the Dead.

Other newspaper clippings in the collection update the public on the life of President Kennedy’s widow, Jacqueline, and their children in the immediate aftermath of his death.

The Kismet of Keeping Things by Jacquie Taylor, PhD

Anyone who has been given the dubious privilege of going through a loved one’s possessions after their death knows what a daunting task it is, and many will be able to relate to this issue’s column. In the months following the January 2017 death of the revered Mike Dodge, his family has been faced with sorting out a vast quantity of artifacts, both personal

and professional, some dating back over a century. Fortunately, the Dodges realize that buried among what at first might appear to be trivial items could be an absolute treasure that would be lost forever if things were disposed of in haste. So they have been combing through every box, opening every envelope, and perusing piles of paper. Naturally,


Summer 2017

Anyone born after the early 1950s knows exactly where they were when they heard the horrible news of the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

For example, there is a small newspaper clipping dated February 23, 1961 that reports President Kennedy’s “quiet decision not to accept the kind of gifts that President Eisenhower stockpiled.” Apparently there had been considerable public criticism of the type and number of gifts received and kept by his predecessors. So, immediately after his inauguration, Kennedy instructed White House staff to give all gifts over $25 to charity except for state gifts which were to be presented to the Smithsonian Institution. One small newspaper article describes President Kennedy showing “stunned amazement” when, shortly after taking office, he learned that there were not enough Army troops to provide any strategic reserve elsewhere in the world if he sent the planned 10,000 troops to Southeast Asia. So he “launched programs to enlarge and modernize the Army and expand the airlift to transport it.” There is a tiny report from June 1964 that “the limousine which carried President Kennedy to his death was back in service at the White House” after it had undergone extensive changes including the addition of a thick, glass top over the formerly open area where the president sat. Of particular interest to funeral service readers is a clipping dated April 16-17, 1966 from the Bangor [Maine] Daily News which reports on progress by the Deer Isle Granite Company of Stonington in honing granite for the inscription stones that ring President Kennedy’s gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery. Each raw stone weighed 65 tons. Finished, they are each 18 feet long and weigh 37 tons. While the Presidential Library description of the gravesite notes that the ground is paved with “irregular stones of Cape Cod granite which were quarried about 150 years ago near the site of the President’s home,” it does not include the fact, outlined in the article, that the upright inscription stones which ring the site were quarried from the cliffs of Crotch Island, Maine, “a rugged outcropping to seaward from Stonington’s harbor where John F. Kennedy was fond of sailing.” Then there is a particularly thought-provoking column from December 22, 1963 by renowned Boston Globe writer, George Frazier, in which he frames the loss of innocence felt all over the country after the assassination. He said: “In the time it took to pull a trigger…so many of our customs seemed silly. There was a time, nor was it long ago, when we actually cared about what would happen to Elizabeth Taylor…and Richard Burton…but the sniper’s bullet changed all that and now, all over the country, theaters are cutting short their engagements of [movies] that once seemed made of magic.” The Dodge family will donate this important collection to the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. In keeping with the wishes of his family, the library is the only official national memorial to John F. Kennedy and, therefore, the most appropriate repository for these historical items.

they sometimes wonder if it is worth all the effort. But then they come across something of tremendous sentimental, if not financial, value. A few weeks ago they gave me a large, see-through plastic bag that, according to the logo imprint, once contained multiple roles of toilet tissue. In it was a thick stack of assorted papers that turned out to be an extensive collection of newspaper clippings, magazines, and photographs that pertain to President John F. Kennedy. The assemblage was gathered throughout the 1960s by Lucretia Low, a relative of Mike’s wife Nancy, and was passed on to the Dodges after the death of Miss. Low. The Persian word for when you encounter something by chance that seems as if it was meant to be is “kismet” – or “destiny.” What are the odds that these things would be saved all these years? Can it be mere coincidence that the Dodges took pains to look inside an otherwise unremarkable plastic bag? Can it be anything but kismet that this treasure trove emerged in May 2017 precisely at the time the country commemorates the 100th birthday of our 35th president? No, it was meant to be! Anyone born after the early 1950s knows exactly where they were when they heard the horrible news of the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. That momentous event, as well as his personal and political life, have been well chronicled over the years. Older readers may recall the “Memorial Edition” of Life magazine published in late 1963. Dodge has a pristine, original copy of it, over 80 poster-sized pages of vivid photographs and poignant text. An opening editorial statement accurately predicts that memories of national tragedy fade over time unless they are properly captured. So the editor promises “with this record, future generations shall also become privileged witnesses to the actual event, to be present and shaken and reawakened as we were.” Other newspaper clippings in the collection are of feature articles with big picture spreads, that ran in May of 1964 and November 1965 to update the public on the life of President Kennedy’s widow, Jacqueline, and their children in the immediate aftermath of his death. There is a detailed accounting of Mrs. Kennedy’s visit to Boston for the January 19, 1964 memorial service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, and the first of many meetings regarding the Kennedy Presidential Library which was originally supposed to be built on the campus of Harvard University but eventually was constructed on Columbia Point in the Dorchester section of Boston. But what caught my attention most are the numerous, smaller articles that provide rich context for that period and provide insights that all but the most avid historians would never know. Dr. Jacquie Taylor is the Special Projects Coordinator at The Dodge Company and a consultant in the areas of management and leadership. She is a veteran funeral service practitioner and educator.

The Dodge Magazine


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Another family got on with their lives, thanks to you. Š 2017 The Dodge Company

The Desperate Ones by Jerome Burke

Through the years, a Funeral Director is apt to see the whole complex panorama of life and death. Jerry Burke, being no exception...unless perhaps in his keener perception...recalls one of his memorable experiences. It was precisely three minutes after 11 o’clock Wednesday morning when Monica called me at the office. “Darlin’” she told me, “Rex Faxton’s sent us a salmon from Monterey. All packed in ice it is, and luscious-looking as a peach just fallen in the grass.” “A salmon, is it?” I began, and “A salmon it is,” she assured me. “Almost big enough to swallow Jonah.” “All right, mavourneen,” I told her, “this is Wednesday. Let’s have it for dinner, with drawn butter and capers, and potato balls, and - ” “But we’ll never eat it all ourselves,” she broke in. “I’m after telling you this is a very Fin M’Coul of fish, enough for a small army - ” “Then why not ask Father Tim Gilhooly to share it with us?” I asked. “And put a pair o’ bottles of the Bordeaux white on ice, while you’re about it.” “I’ll do it,” promised Monica. “And try to be home before six, mhuirnin. There’s nothing makes a boiled fish more sullen than lying too long in the water.” * * * Dinner was nearly as perfect as anything this side of Paradise can be. The salmon had the rosy pinkness of a modest maiden’s blush; the sauce, all spiced with mustard and capers, was a thing to dream about; the wine was dry without a touch of tartness, like a clever woman’s witty conversation. Afterwards we had our coffee and a shot of Bushmill in the living room, and Father Tim expanded like a flower in the sunshine. “What have you been doing with yourself the day?” he asked Monica. “Oh, I went to a matinee; saw Romeo and Juliet,” she told him. “I liked it very much, except the double suicide at the end. That seemed a dreadful waste of young life.” “A little overdrawn, perhaps,” said Father Tim. “As I recall, Juliet was only thirteen, and Romeo not much older. You wouldn’t think that such young children could love so deeply.” I didn’t realize I’d done it, but I must have shaken my head, for he turned on me. “You don’t agree with me?” he asked. “I do not,” I told him. “You see, I knew William Singleton and Betty Jeffers.” “And who were they?” he wanted to know. * * *

William Singleton, Jr. and Elizabeth Jeffers began living within twenty-four hours and twentyfive feet of each other, for their mothers had adjoining rooms in Lawson Peel Hospital. When the nurses wheeled William and Elizabeth from the baby-room for periodic nourishment they lay in baskets next to each other, and William’s lusty bawls for food were seconded by her shrill piping treble. When the time came for them to go home they rode in the same car, but William got out first, for his family lived at 462 Riverton Avenue, while her folks lived next door at 464. Mr. Singleton was in the insurance business; Mr. Jeffers was a realtor. Both were active in the Kiwanis; both belonged to the Shore Acres Country Club; they subscribed to the same papers and voted the same ticket on election day. When William and Elizabeth were four, their mothers entered them at Miss Bright’s Select Kindergarten. When they were six they went to public school, and William waited at Betty’s front gate every morning and walked home with her each evening. When they reached the higher grades where homework was required, he strapped their books into a common bundle and bore the burden as a matter of course. On Saturday they played croquet or pretended to be cowboys and Indians, chasing each other around her side yard. They spent their summers in adjoining cottages in the mountains. Both Mrs. Singleton and Mrs. Jeffers were enthusiastic at the prospect of wild grape jelly, and promised a quarter for each basket the children brought in. “Why, Betty, we’ll be rich!” Bill told her. “We ought to get at least a dozen baskets. That’ll be three dollars, and we can have a chocolate soda every afternoon till almost Thanksgiving!” One day when the hunting had been particularly good they were trudging home with three baskets. Bill walked ahead with an overloaded basket in each hand, Betty brought up the rear with a hamper dripping purple fruit. They were barefoot, travelstained and more than a little dirty, but jubilant. “Seventy-five cents!” Bill gloated. We’ve made almost a whole dollar, just today, and - hey!” Betty had given him a sudden shove, pushing him into the pathside bushes. “Look what you’re doing!” he complained. “You almost made me spill -” “Stay back, Bill; keep away!” Betty panted, reaching for a stick that lay across the path. Then he saw. The “stick” she reached for with her bare hand was a two-foot copperhead which had been lying stretched full-length in a warm patch


William Singleton, Jr. and Elizabeth Jeffers began living within twenty-four hours and twenty-five feet of each other.

Summer 2017

Then he saw. The “stick” she reached for with her bare hand was a two-foot copperhead.

Bill had his father’s car, and when the dance was over, instead of driving home, headed for the state line. You didn’t need a marriage license over there in those days.

of sunlight. Another step and he’d have put his unprotected foot on it. The reptile had the sinuous strength of its kind, but desperation gave Betty greater strength. Before it could writhe from her grasp or slip its head far enough forward to sink its fangs into her wrist she had thrown it twenty feet away into the underbrush and she and Bill were racing down the path in panic. “Gosh, but you’re brave!” he told her when they finally paused for breath. “Weren’t you scared?” “More than I’ve ever been in my life,” she answered, “but I was more scared the snake would bite you than of what it might do to me.” Then she began to cry. In their twelve years of life Bill had seen Betty cry at least a thousand times, but this crying was different. “Why’d you do it?” he asked wonderingly. She cried harder than ever. Then suddenly she leant toward him like a young tree bent by the wind. “Be - because I love you, Bill dear,” she confessed, and sobbed as if her heart would break. “And I love you,” he answered as simply as if he told her the sun was shining. Then he kissed her. It wasn’t what the gentlemen who make the motion pictures - or the audiences who watch them - would call a kiss. It was only a shy brushing of lips; but they were in each other’s arms so naturally, so tenderly, that the quiet ecstasy of it was almost appalling. * * * They went through junior high school together, and were fourteen, almost fifteen years old when the graduation dance was held. Bill had his father’s car, and when the dance was over, instead of driving home, headed for the state line. You didn’t need a marriage license over there in those days, and justices of the peace weren’t always too careful when they looked prospective brides and bridegrooms over. If the boy swore he was twentyone and the girl swore she was over eighteen - it was their own business if they chose to lie, and besides, a fee was a fee. Armed with their marriage certificate, they found a rooming house in the village where they put up for the night, and next morning drove home, where Betty showed her wedding ring triumphantly, and Bill looked as proud and pleased as a tom-cat who’s just eaten the canary. In these days, when young married couples attend college - or even high school - classes together, such a marriage would be considered unusual, but nothing to become excited over. Things were different in the days when Everybody’s Doing It was the year’s most popular song and every fashionable young man had a raccoon coat and a derby hat pulled down almost over his ears. Such things just “weren’t done.” Mr. and Mrs. Jeffers proceeded to lock Betty up in her room. Mrs. Singleton had day-long hysterics

and called loudly on the Lord to take her before the disgrace which Bill had brought upon them became public gossip. Mr. Singleton threatened to give Bill the beating of his life if he ever attempted to see “that girl” again. Then both fathers called on Rodney Richardson, Esq., and initiated legal proceedings to have the scandalous marriage annulled. * * * The morning of the day the case was to be heard the Jeffers found Betty’s window ajar and a painter’s ladder resting against the white clapboards under it. Bill was nowhere to be found. Both Mr. Singleton and Mr. Jeffers said things calculated to put their immortal souls in jeopardy; family doctors headed for the Singleton and Jeffers homes with the speed of engines responding to a four-alarm fire as Mrs. Singleton and Mrs. Jeffers had relapses of their respective hysterics. Then Mr. Singleton went to get his car from the garage. The door was locked on the inside, and they had to break it down with an axe. The motor was still running, and on the front seat, still clasped in each other’s arms, lay Bill and Betty. Fastened to the wooden steering wheel was a scrawled note: “NOW let’s see you keep us apart.” * * * Technically, the cases gave me less trouble than one would expect. Blood is fluid and bright cherrycolored in cases of asphyxia from carbon monoxide, and I established good drainage and secured perfect circulation. I did need a bit of opaque cosmetic, but in the truest sense of the expression the boy and girl seemed “Not dead, but sleeping.” “I understand you sometimes lay bodies on a bed before you put them in the casket?” Mr. Singleton asked me. “Yes, sir,” I told him. “We’re following that practice more and more - when the families want it, of course.” “We do want it,” Mr. Jeffers told me, and his voice was harsh as a file rasping on metal. “That’s what we want, isn’t it, Bill?” he turned to Mr. Singleton who nodded, then told me in a choking voice, “Lay them side by side on a double bed, Mr. Burke, and - if you can do it - fix it so their hands will touch.” The Singleton and Jeffers family plots in Shadow Lawns adjoined each other, and at the border they had a single double-width grave dug. When the caskets were lowered into it they rested partly in one plot, partly in the other. * * * “Och,” sobbed Monica as I finished my story. “Mavrone - my sorrow! Mavrone dhu - my black sorrow! God give the poor children rest and caring - aye, and give them each other in the Happy Land Beyant!” She paused abashedly and looked at Father Tim. Somehow, she seemed to fear she had offended him by seeming to condone the sin of suicide, but: “Amen,” said Father Tim, and signed himself.

Jerome is an old funeral director who has told his tales to numerous generations of Dodge Magazine readers. Jerome Burke

The Dodge Magazine




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Dodge Magazine Summer 2017  
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