Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 18 > Page 45 - How we Buried Our Dead

Page 45 - How we Buried Our Dead

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1977/12/1 (826 reads)
 

we didn't get frightened of anything. There was no way out of it. Say you had a death and I drive up in the wagon • and 10 or 15 people standing around. You wouldn't get one of them to help you. Because of the disease and fear of the dead too. You'd just have to move it inch by inch to the door. And people those days were frightened of ghosts. (And you?) No, I was frightened of nothing. Virginia (his daughter): Daddy always told Mama not to worry about dipther? ia. He cited this incident. In Saint John, N. B., they were building a new hospital and he was helping Mr. Fitzpatrick transfer the patients. Apparently they were going with this horse and wagon, this Fitzpatrick and Daddy and a Negro woman driving it. So one of the patients died. When they went to. the doctor they found it was diptheria. So they quarantined Fitzpatrick and Daddy. They put them all alone in a room in the hospital for 21 days. They shoved the food into them through a slot. Mr. Dooley: We were there 11 days. And my buddy died. And they gave me the whole 21 days again. Took this other fellow out. So I always told her not to worry. You know the disinfectant? Chewing tobacco was considered the disin? fectant. And I'd chew when I worked. All the fellows did. (When did you start having local people kept in your place?) Well, that was kind of a gradual thing. If they died home they'd be fixed up home and left home. If they died in the hospital you took them home and they were fixed up home. That was the fam? ily rule. But it gradually wore away, you know. Virginia: It had already started in the big cities long before it came here. See it was about 1952 or '53, he started the funeral home. He didn't start keeping bodies till around 1950. Mr. Dooley: I re? member a little fellow • perhaps a year old • a little casket. Well, the people lived up the creek there and they didn't have much of a place and they didn't want the baby taken home and they didn't want the baby taken down on Front Street there • that was just kind of a rough place there, pictures and framing hanging around • so we took that home. And that was the first body that was in our house then. That kind of started it away. And the next one or per? haps the second one after • oh, take that out of my sight. But there's few babies die now. One time we used to buy from Amherst: send down a dozen 2-foot and a dozen 2-foot- 3 and a half a dozen 2-foot-6 and all that. And you'd sell them before very long. I remember just a few years ago a man died, a lovely big house • and the wife said, I know he would like to be where his friends could drop in. So she had it at home. About a week after the funeral, she came down. She said, "Look here. Bill Dooley," • thought she was gonna chew my head off for • something • "when I die, don't you put me in that home. I'm through with that home when I die. I didn't have my clothes off for four days, I had to feed people, go to sleep over the prayers" • so now we get all the dirty work. (What's the longest you were ever required to keep a remains?) I don't know. There's no time limit. We had one fellow there, his boat upset out • they were rum running. Two went out in little vessels and something happened and she upset. One fellow got his feetXcaught in the ropes and drowned, and a tug came along and saw him and got him clear • but the other fellow wasn't seen yet. So they brought the first fellow in to me. Couldn't find out who he was. Left word a- round police stations and one thing or an? other. So someone thought, why don't we just stand him up in the corner there and people'd come in, they might recognize him. So we did that. (In a coffin?) No. Stood- him up, just put a suit on him. Like if you stood up there. I come and I'd know that fellow. That was down at the old place. He stood there 11 months and some days, not saying a word, and nobody recognized him. We kept an eye on him. He didn't smell. We kept enough fluid in him • but we never had any trouble with him. You know, people be? gan to think he was one of us. Well, we buried him then. Old Dr. MacLeaui was cor? oner and he said, Aw, we might as well, we'll never find out who he is. So we bur? ied him. And in another month or so we got word from some fellow in Maine • and he was missing. They sent a letter to the chief of police in Sydney and we had snaps taken different times. So we took him up then af? ter being buried a couple of months, washed him up a little bit and sent him home • put a little notice on the coffin • they could open it if they want. We've had them come in here • you know, all those vessels going down to Labrador • they have a lot of loose salt in the hold. And When in Baddeck, visit us GEORGE'S DAIRY and LAUNDROMAT Baddeck and, "La math dhuit'." ItiLndows, Doorst Awnings* Railings?? Siding Modern Aluminum Products Ifelton Street* Sydner 562-1104 / 562-1105 Clothing Hardware STEDMAN'S Cheticamp Gifts Souvenirs Excellent Accomodations DINGWALL. VICTORU COUNTY, N.S. • PtieiM: Olqgwall 46 Mrs. Chester McBvoy, Manager Cape Breton's MagazineA6
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