The majority of funerals that I’ve attended have been somber, solemn events that thankfully went as smoothly as could be expected without chaos and destruction. (Well, there was that one time I walked into a nest of baby ticks, but I didn’t make a big deal out of that.) In most situations, I always imagine the worst case scenario. For example, what if the casket fell over during the service? Here are some examples of send-offs gone array that are much worse than a toppled corpse (even though that would be very, very traumatic.)
|Evening Public Ledger [Philadelphia] 26 Feb. 1916|
|Bemidji Daily Pioneer [Minn.] 20 Dec. 1909|
|The St. Paul Globe 20 Jan. 1902|
|The Citizen [KY] 28 Nov. 1907|
|Pullman Herald [Wash.] 9 Jan. 1904|
Carrie Sayres (also spelled as “Sayre”) was a schoolteacher at the Myra Bradwell School and one of the many people who perished in the Iroquois Theater Fire on December 30, 1903. 572 people died (including over 200 children) during a holiday performance of an Eddie Foy show. (I’m finding many interesting clippings about this tragedy that I’ll be posting eventually.)
The disaster left Chicago on high alert, as tragedies often do.
During Carrie’s highly-attended Jan. 4 funeral, a fire started several doors down from the church. At the first cry of “fire” from outside, people began to panic. Even though police asked the mourners to remain inside the church because they weren’t in any danger, the scent of smoke wafting through the air caused the crowd to scramble towards the open street. Pallbearers rushed to the side of Carrie’s casket in case they had to run with it amidst the chaos.
When the people realized that they were safe, many of them went back inside the church where Carrie’s funeral continued.