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Victorian Style Funeral at the Doctors House in Glendale | by Robb Wilson
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Victorian Style Funeral at the Doctors House in Glendale

The man in gray is supposed to be the gravedigger, while the man in black is supposed to be the undertaker. They were lecturing the visitors to the "Beneath the Veil" presentation, which gave us visitors a tour of both the house and the customs of the times (over a hundred years ago) when families held funerals in their own homes. This was done regularly in more middle class homes, like the Doctors House seen here, a California Victorian home that was large enough to accommodate guests to come to see the dear departed for the last time before burial. Often the departed would be buried on the property in a private grave, rather than in a cemetery. It depended upon the size of the property and the local laws.


The gravedigger had a very interesting story to tell about an Irish woman who had died and was buried. Later that evening some grave robbers showed up to dig her up and steal her wedding ring. When they couldn't pry it off they attempted to cut the finger off. As the knife touched the finger the woman suddenly awakened! She frightened the robbers and they ran off without getting the ring. It turned out the woman had lapsed into a coma, and with medicine being still pretty primitive back then the doctors believed she had died. The gravedigger here told the visitors about how coffins would be equipped with little bells for the departed to ring, just in case the departed had only gone into a coma, like the Irish woman, and had not really died. (Such fears obsessed Edgar Allan Poe, who wrote many stories with this theme.)

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Taken on October 26, 2014