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Chuck Hinman, IJMA No. 025 : Funeral Procession Courtesy

It's Just Me Again. No. 025. Funeral Procession Courtesy
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The next previous Chuch Hinman column, Chuck Hinman: IJMA No. 017. Wisdom of Bunk King

By Chuck Hinman

I submit that common funeral courtesy is learned at an early age from your parents. I cannot remember any specific "thou shalt not" instruction from either of my parents on the subject. Nevertheless I am sure I, as a child, observed my parents discipline in this matter and didn't have to be told ... "THOU SHALT"! etc.

The first test came in this way.

On Saturdays during the cold winter months of the 1930's in Nebraska, our Dad used the free labor of his two boys to help in the endless job of shucking corn or cutting wood for the furnace. It was before the advent of mechanical corn shucking machinery.

On a particularly frigid Saturday afternoon, Mom and Dad had gone to a funeral of a friend. Brother Bob and I went to the field without Dad to shuck corn Saturday after dinner. About 4:00 PM we had shucked a wagon load of corn and were driving home standing on top of the load of corn next to the bang board on the side of the wagon. It was cold enough you could see not only the breaths of Dick and Diamond, the team of horses pulling the wagon full of corn, but Bob's and my breaths. And of course, the breath of Sport, faithful dog; Sport followed or led the wagon wherever it went!

To get home from the field we were shucking, it was necessary to get out on the highway briefly. On this particular afternoon as we were on the highway heading home, we could see the funeral procession our folks were in, heading slowly toward us. Without any discussion between Bob and me, Bob pulled the team of horses off the side of the road, stopped them, and we both stood at rigid attention on top of the load of corn, with our knit caps held over our chests. We didn't stage it. We knew what to do and did it. No big deal!

Later that evening at the supper table, there were some soft loving compliments passed out by both Mom and Dad. They complimented us for knowing the decent thing to do.

Then fast forward forty years. I am married and living in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Our kids are grown and gone. Every noon when I worked at Phillips, I used to spend my lunch hour jogging from the Phillips gym, out 5th street, across the soon to be memorialized Caney River bridge, out to Marie's supper club and back. I did it for years, and only remember one time when jogging that route approaching an oncoming funeral procession; not as a youngster on a load of corn, but as a 50 year old jogger in running clothes trying to stay "in shape."

The procession slowly crossed the Caney River bridge. There was no confusion on what I should do. I did as my parents had taught me back in the 1930's; you stop what you are doing and pay your respect to the deceased.

I held my right hand to my chest and resisted the opportunities to wave at cars where I recognized the occupants. I clearly remember that the lead funeral car was driven by the well known local mortician with initials AM. He discreetly raised a finger that I saw but did not acknowledge. His passengers, I am sure, were never aware he pleasantly acknowledged my courtesy.

Thanks Dad and Mom, for leading like you always did, by example. It has stood me in good stead all these 89 years. -CHUCK HINMAN.

This story was posted on 2011-09-11 07:12:50
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