Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hearse ride sparks shock, horror

In the early 1900s, cars were still relatively new and sometimes troublesome to operate, especially on long trips. They often broke down at the most inopportune of moments. So in May of 1914, when a group of travelers became stranded near Cheney, Wash., on their way home to Spokane, the women and children of the group had to take what transportation was available.

While the group, the William Pitmans and the Frank Chapmans and a daughter apiece, stood looking forlornly at their vehicle, a Spokane undertaker happened by in his automobile hearse. He offered a ride to the women and girls, who gladly hopped aboard, leaving their husbands to tinker with the machine and get it back on the road.

As the hearse rolled along through the countryside and villages, the riders raised the curtains to peek out, much to the chagrin of spectators along the way. When the hearse reached the suburbs of Spokane, bystanders were horror-stricken when the party of four emerged cheerfully from the vehicle and climbed aboard a streetcar to finish their journey home.

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