Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Culture: Some Morbid Tales

TORONTO, ONTARIO - With Halloween approaching, this seemed a good time to dig up one of my favorite audio commentaries from my childhood archives. "Some Morbid Tales" was written for the 29-June-1989 Glitchon File:
In Pasco, Washington, near Interstate 182, there is an old graveyard, originally built near a grove of trees due to its proximity to the Northern Pacific railroad. The only way to reach this cemetery is via a small lane that goes from the funeral home to Oregon Avenue.

So, when people went to this shady location to pay their respects to lost friends or relatives, they passed a yellow, diamond-shaped sign reading "Dead End." Of course, this was referring to the street, but people were nonetheless quite disturbed since some people rested in their dead ends at the end of the street.

The city of Pasco changed the sign in the 1970's to read "No Outlet." For those that believe in souls, this seems equally disturbing.

For a person who died far from his hometown cemetery, there was only one outlet before the early 1960's. Their body had to ride home on the railroad, as special cargo in a baggage car. The corpse was usually accompanied by a relative who would ride the train with a normal ticket.

Since the body was an unusual article for the railroad to carry, they turned to their old fashioned way of doing tings. Attached to the coffin would be a fill-in card with instructions on it, called a skeleton ticket.

Needless to say, people were again offended by this use of a skeleton ticket for a skeleton, so the railway made a new type of ticket for coffin traffic.

However, in the 1950's, it was still possible to have a corpse transported using a skeleton ticket to Pasco, where a hearse would take it down a dead end street to a cemetery.

After hearing all this, don't go out and change your will to state that you want to be cremated. I'm sure the airlines do something offensive with ashes. Remember, no smoking on domestic flights under two hours.
As a footnote, on my last visit to Pasco, Washington earlier this year, I drove by the entrance to the City View Cemetery. There is no longer a "No Outlet" sign or a "Dead End" sign along Oregon Avenue at its entrance.

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