Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas in Houston: National Museum of Funeral History

This is a casket. Shaped like a fish.
Where else are you going to see a casket shaped like a fish?

Or a bull?

Or a green onion?

Yes, they even had a coffin shaped like a scallion.  All of this and more -- MUCH MUCH MORE -- at the National Museum of Funeral History.

That's my Kia Soul rental car parked outside
415 Barren Springs Road, a half-hour north of Houston, in a downscale outer suburb, sits the National Museum of Funeral History.  Not the Houston Museum of Funeral History.  Not even the Texas Museum of Funeral History.  The NATIONAL Museum of Funeral History.  The only museum of funeral history that belongs to ALL of us,

But for the boys at Roadside America, I never would have discovered this gem.  It got a five "smiley-faced water towers" rating on the, so you knew it had to be something special.  Not many places get the coveted five "smiley-faced water towers."  Heck, even the lot of giant president heads only got four "smiley-faced water towers" and I happen to know for a fact that the founder of Roadside America is just as big a nerd for presidential history sites as I am.  So I was expecting to be knocked sock-less.  Once again, believe the hype.

I was not the only one there. There must have been like three other cars parked outside when I was there.
What was my favorite part of the museum?  You would have thought it was the section on presidential funerals.  Or the collection of whimsical children's coffins from Ghana.  See first three pictures, supra.  But you would be bring.  It was the huge collection of hearses and other funeral vehicles.

An official presidential hearse.

A Packard.

Another even bigger Packard.  Let's look inside, shall we?  Let's!

Roomy.  Big enough even for President Taft,  (Oops.  That was a different Houston landmark from a little bit earlier.)

And how about this Cadillac?  A very stylish way to be chaffeured into the next life.

Princess Grace, f/k/a the actress Grace Kelly, made her journey in this very same Mercedes-Benz:

Here's a Woodie:

I believe this is a Studebaker:

This one was vintage:

And this came all the way from Japan!

They even had a funeral sleigh:

The two most interesting vehicles in the hearse exhibit were these.

My favorite.  Probably because it's the only hearse I've seen in green.  Two-tone green, which is twice the coolness of monotone green.

Yes, it even had suicide doors!

But this one was the best:

The funeral bus.

Make your funeral party a real party!  The funeral bus could hold the decedent and about 20 mourners.  All together on the journey from church to gravesite.  Unfortunately, it was found to be so top heavy -- 20 mourners on top and only one decedent on the lower level -- it toppled over when it was used in San Francisco.

Of course, just as there is more to a funeral than the hearse, there was more to this museum.  Coffins!

For example, the money casket.  They say you can't take it with you.  But have "they" seen a coffin with $600+ in uncirculated currency and coin embedded into the box?

I think this may have been the glass coffin.

But my memory is fading, so I'm not sure if I got a picture of that.

Plus, there was a whole section on these amazing awesome wonderful whimsical coffins (yes, whimsical coffins) from Ghana:

Yes, the eagle coffin is amazing:

But, if you've got to buried, wouldn't you want to be buried in one of these babies:

The crab coffin (top), and the lobster coffin (bottom).  The lobster coffin is billed here as the most intricate coffin design ever.

From Ghana.  Under the green/yellow/red-striped black star flag of Ghana.

There were other interesting exhibits:

Such as the exhibit on the history of embalming.

SPOILER ALERT:  It all goes back to Ancient Egypt.  And the mummies.  And the God of Embalming, Anubis.  Who looks disturbingly like Zack The Dog.  If Zack had had gold ears.

Other exhibits included the History of Papal Funerals.

The exhibit on the history of presidential funerals had newspapers contemporaneous with presidential deaths, but was short on actual exhibit things for presidential funerals other than that of Ronald Reagan.  And the "Day of the Dead" exhibit was lacking.

The gift shop was nice.  Lots of Hummel type "Day of the Dead" figurines available.  T-shirts aplenty.  But my favorite thing was the shopping baskets.

Wouldn't it be cool to pick a few things at Smith's or Albertson's carrying one of those?

For more information on the National Museum of Funeral History, go to their website:

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