When hot summer evenings closed in the game of choice was hide and seek, the dusk making it more fun to hide beneath the old willow or behind the pillars or in the chimney ell. But playing at the funeral home was the best.
Although it was forbidden, we would slip one at a time into the house..."I need a drink"..."I have to use the bathroom" or any other excuse. And of course the grown ups aren't paying any attention, right? Right.
The rooms were full of shadows lit only from a front hall light left burning all the time. We hid beneath tables, behind sofas, in back of half open doors and jumped out to scare one another in lieu of being discovered. But when we discovered the best, most wonderful hidey place of all, we could hardly believe our good fortune. THE CASKET ROOM!
I suppose it was a normal, though good sized room, but in my memory it stretches on and on into forever, darkening into nothingness as it goes. Casket after casket stands on display, some open, some closed. Satiny wood finishes, gleaming metal handles cold to touch, the silky fabrics on the interiors. It took a dare to get me into the room and a friend's hand guiding mine to touch the objects....then it was game ON, and we ran, hooted, hollered, jumped, and laughed between, around, under and across the caskets.
Bobby was drumming on one of the caskets, when a moaning sound ululated from inside. We froze.
A pale hand lifted the casket lid. A moon face rose washed in the dim hall light and a maniacal laugh issued from the open mouth.
Screaming ourselves breathless, tangling feet and arms at the door, squirting out into the hallway we made a mad dash for the safety of our parents' presence.
Behind us, the shrill laughter lowered to a familiar tenor cackle as Uncle Harvey, short and round as a beach ball, levered himself up and out of Uncle Bill's very best casket.
Do you suppose it had to be sold as 'used'?