by Bob Vance Moulder
Bob Vance Moulder has written a humdinger of a book -- the book jacket says it all (as does the story that follows):
"Kudzu, Homebrew and Dinner on the Ground is a collection of truths, semi-truths, greatly expanded rumors, and just plain tall tales. The author either heard or experienced these tales during his travels, during his long career as a newspaper reporter and public information specialist, or while sitting around a potbellied stove in Mr. George's Store in Lorena, Mississippi, during the Great Depression -- one of the harshest times in this nation's history. Many of the tales, handed down from masters of the storytelling art who made no excuse for their being anything but figments of the imagination, were first published in the Madison County (Mississippi) Herald under the heading Senior Ramblings."
"I've read Moulder's wonderful book and highly recommend it for anybody who needs a good chuckle," says USADEEPSOUTH editor, Beth Jacks. "Moulder is an excellent writer and a Southern storyteller supreme -- witty and warm. You'll be glad you spent time with him!"
Here's a story from the book . . .
HIS OWN FUNERAL
During my l5th year when I worked part time at a funeral home in Forest, Mississiippi, where my father served as a mortician and embalmer, it was not unusual for me to attend funerals with him as an assistant. Such was the case during one funeral that was different from any other I had ever attended.
Many times during the war years, funerals were often postponed for several days, even as much as a week or ten days after a death. The family needed time for relatives to travel home by bus or train from places like Chicago, Detroit or San Diego where they had either moved to find work in the defense plants or else were stationed during their military service.
Because of this custom, it was mandatory in hot and humid Mississippi for the body to be embalmed.
But this hard and fast rule was not observed for the immediately deceased Charles Henry. His mother would not consider allowing her son to be embalmed. "Charles Henry came into the world as the Almighty God made him and that's the way he's going out."
Neither the family nor the funeral directors had a choice but to hold the funeral the day following his death.
When we arrived at the small country church where the funeral was to be conducted, six stalwart pallbearers dutifully rolled the late Charles Henry down the aisle where my father opened the casket lid and covered the body with a thin, golden veil.
Following a good half-hour of spiritual orating about Charles Henry's upcoming trip to "meet his fair and benevolent God," the emotionally drained minister suddenly shouted in a terrified voice, "Oh, my God in Heaven," and fell in a dead faint on the oil-swept floor.
Shocked out of my daydreaming by the minister's outburst, I peered through an opening in the flower arrangements I was hiding behind in time to see the late Charles Henry slowly sitting up in the casket.
The second person to scream and faint was the deceased's aunt sitting on the front row. She leaped to her feet, despite her huge bulk that spread over nearly half of a pew, and knocked over three flower arrangements and a piano stool when she fell.
Total panic followed as Charles Henry continued to rise until he was in a perfect L-shaped seated position with the lacy veil draped loosely over his head. The two front doors and all the windows were suddenly jammed with Sunday dressed men, women and children fleeing the church. They were all trying to escape the possible wrath of Charles Henry who, in their belief, had obviously risen from the dead.
Within a few short minutes, I was the only person left inside the church, laughing hysterically despite trying to maintain my mortician's demeanor. Although it was a rare occurrence, I knew it was possible for rigor mortis to shrink muscles in a body that had not been embalmed. I had seen fingers, arms and legs twitch. And, although I had never seen a body move from the waist, I had heard of such a thing happening before.
It didn't take my father long to present his scientific explanation why Charles Henry rose in his casket to family and friends crouched behind cars, pickup trucks, trees and anything else solid enough to hide behind.
But it took nearly an hour for most of the mourners to find the courage to re-enter the church in order that Charles Henry, still sitting up in his casket with his head covered in a golden veil and his lips curled upward in a carefully prepared mortician's smile, could have the Christian funeral he deserved.
His memory and stories will live on!
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