Pamona, CA / Chambersburg, PA: Edgar Rothrock / Sellers Funeral Home, 1939 and 1965 (not after). Blook: 245 x 175 x 40 mm. With printed "title-page" conjugate with front pastedown bearing title, directions to the Funeral Director, and imprint (Edgar Rothrock). Contains: 4 sections of printed pages, each section with Contents on front wrapper, pages numbered 1-240, loose as issued but designed to be spiral-bound, a number of which are now missing: 5-6, 31-2, 35-8, 77-80, 103-4, 111-12, 123-4, 143-8, 153-8, 173-6, 179-84, 191-2, 215-20. Blook covered with embossed leatherette, inside painted gold, green fabric ribbon (detached). CONTAINS: 11 folded cards acknowledging expressions of "sympathy" with envelopes. WITH: 3 folding Pallbearers cards with envelopes. WITH: 39 Sympathy cards, each the size of a business card, each with two pinholes where once attached to flowers, plus one (in envelope) from a florist for the wife of the decedent. Printed note book from Sellers Funeral Home "Lifetime Memories": suede covers, 16 leaves color printed, depicting blue sky and clouds, with typed name of the decedent, family record, date of service, final resting place and pallbearers; signatures of relatives and friends (extending 12 1/2 pages), and floral offerings (typed). Preserved in the original embossed box (slightly defective). Item #3250
Highly curious Blook artifact of mid-1960s funeral practice, which answers the question: how (exactly) was a funeral for a middle-class American conducted at this time?
Many of us never went to a funeral in 1965 (or at least we may not remember) but it remains one of the quintessential ritual in American life, affecting the participants not only emotionally but socially and commercially. The present archive documents much about this process, from the "Lingering Memories" notebook to cards acknowledging mourners' expressions of "sympathy," Pallbearers cards, 39 Sympathy cards once accompanying flowers, and information about the decedent and his family, date of the funeral, name of the cemetery, and 12 1/2 pages of signatures of relatives and friends. Interestingly, the bespoke names include many businesses and their employees: C.V. Hose Co., the Girls at Shirley Motors, Stock Control Division & Low Altitude Branch of Huntsville, Alabama; non-commercial organizations are also represented (Loyal Order of Moose #842, Marine Corps League, and American Legion) is also present. In many instances, the type of flowers (and/or vase) is recorded. While there were no "rules" as to the mechanics of a funeral at this time, there were certain expecations.
The Blook contains unbound leaves for the Officiant which were designed to meet some of these expectations. The four categories are: Poems (meant to be uplifting), Scriptures, Manual Selections (such as Commitals, including Commitals for a Child), Prose, and "Your Memorial Addresses" (to be filled in by the Officiant). That these are instructions to the Officiant, and not to the bereaved, we learn that "In the case of cremation, burial at sea, or in a mausoleum, the phrases 'to the ground' and 'to the earth' should be changed 'to the elements,'" etc. The Prose selections, all written by American politicians, are also of interest: Garfield on the Death of Lincoln, Last Words of William McKinley, the Gettysburg Address, and so forth. In the present instance, the decedent was Donald J. Smith (1908-1965) who was born, lived, and died in Chambersburg, PA. His widow was Evelyn Smith; they had no children.
It is unclear to us why the unbound Officiant's manual was preserved in this archive, but we have been unable to trace another.