Rough Boxes

Date Published: 
August, 1906
Original Author: 
Frederick Green
Original Publication: 
AACS Proceedings of the 20th Annual Convention

From the point of view of the cemetery superintendent what is the use of having the outside of the box look well, and the inside rough? The box is usually in the grave before the funeral party arrives on the grounds, and none of them see the outside, while the pall-bearers and many others look into the grave and see the inside of it before the casket in lowered. With the cover of course it is different, the outside or top, of it is seen, or at least the grave may generally be so arranged as to bring it into view, and to a degree, add to the decoration of the grave; but a cemetery superintendent who is keenly alive to the necessity of having the burial made in a quiet, orderly, and expeditious manner, must of necessity hide the outside of the rough box (however beautiful) from the view of the funeral party.

Of course when the rough box is to be used in a temporary receiving vault it is alright to finish the outside as elaborately as you wish, for it will be seen, but the great majority of the boxes go directly to the grave, and these if you decorate them at all, you should decorate on the inside. When you spend money for decorative purposes don't forget to spend it where it will be seen. Almost all good Americans like to spend their money where it will make a show and all funerals are largely show.

A second suggestion is that you keep the size of rough boxes within bounds. In Lake View the unusual and useless size of rough boxes has been the cause of much, confusion, trouble, and annoyance, to both the bereaved and the cemetery management. Our public temporary receiving vault and mortuary chapel, the gift of Mr. J. H. Wade, was very carefully planned but a few years ago. The crypts are eight feet long, thirty-one and one-half inches wide and twenty-five inches deep and were thought to be of ample capacity to meet all reasonable demands. Today, however, we have three caskets stored in other places because the hermetically sealed, zinc-lined, hard wood boxes are too large for these crypts. Two of the three boxes are thirty-five inches wide and it happens each encloses the remains of a small woman. They are beautiful boxes, but they could have been made much smaller without detracting from their beauty.

The needlessly large boxes also cause a great deal of trouble when they are to be placed in the crypt of some old family mausoleum designed to meet the requirements of a past generation, whom seemed to have been blessed with less money but more intelligence as to rough boxes than we of today.

Again, these excessively large rough boxes disarrange the burial plans carefully designed for family lots at the time of purchase, and thereby subject the family and the cemetery authorities to no end of trouble.

A third suggestion is that the rough box should be on the grounds before the grave digger commences to dig. There is one undertaker in. Cleveland who always keeps stored with us at Lake View a number of extra boxes of the sizes most frequently used. We are very glad to have him do this. When some other undertaker was likely to "fall down" with his rough box we have frequently asked for permission to use one of these extra boxes and we have sometimes used one first and asked afterwards, rather than to subject a funeral party to the annoyance of waiting because some blundering driver has delivered the wrong box, or taken it to some other cemetery, or met with some accident, or for some other reason the box had failed to get to the grounds ahead of the funeral party.

There is, I am told, at least one cemetery which manufactures and sells rough boxes. This appeals to me from an economical standpoint, for the practice of making a trip to the cemetery to deliver each rough box must be in the aggregate a large item of expense to the undertakers as a class.

Perhaps the most effective remedy that I have ever heard suggested for the settling of all troubles that may arise between the undertakers and the cemeteries is that the undertakers should either own the cemeteries, or the cemeteries employ the undertakers. 

From the publication:
AACS - Proceedings of the 20th Annual Convention
Held at Detroit, MI
August 21, 22 and 23, 1906