HOW (CHEAP) Can You Go? (as cheap as you want...)
My father, Hugo L Black, died in 1971. At that time he was 85 years old and the second longest sitting Associate Justice in the history of the United States Supreme Court, having sat on the Court for nearly 35 years. An avid tennis player, he served on his two beloved courts—the Supreme Court and the tennis court— until a few months before his death. He gave up both reluctantly, but died at peace with his life and his death.
He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, not as a Supreme Court Justice but as a Captain in the Cavalry during the First World War. His grave is next to my mother, Josephine, who died in 1951 and had been a Yeomanette in the Navy during the same war. Their grave markers are standard government issue, and they note only the dates of birth, death, and service in the armed forces.
A funeral service was held for my father at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Over 1,000 people attended, including the President of the United States, the Supreme Court, judges, and many Congressmen and Senators. The Bishop of the Cathedral, Dean Francis Sayre, oversaw the arrangements and delivered a eulogy.
In making the funeral arrangements, we had only three directives from my father:
- No open casket
The first coffin we came to—the cheeeeaaaap-est—was covered with pink organza, pink satin bows, with a pink ruffled skirt around the bottom. Tasteless and frilly, it seemed totally out of place. The next ones were also cloth-covered, but the cloth looked increasingly more expensive. Our salesman was surprised that we even glanced at these, let alone asked their prices, and indirectly dismissed these as a final resting-place for a man of importance. He began to hurry us on until we came to the throne coffin.
The Sales Pitch
Suddenly, almost simultaneously, we looked at each other, smiling as my father's directive hit us full force—cheap. We moved to another emotional dimension—common at wakes—going from a deep grieving sadness to an almost playful mood. Right there, in that elegant room, we knew that together we could do one last thing for my father. No one was going to talk us out of cheap! When pressed, the coffin salesman allowed that the throne coffin cost thousands of dollars. That settled that.
AND The Decision
|If it is good enough for this place and a|
judge, You get the picture...