Funeral Mortician.

Part Of The Ritual of The American Funeral in the 60s.

The Great American Funeral – 1964 -Past Daily Reference Room

Funeral Mortician.
Part Of The Ritual of The American Funeral in the 60s.

– The American Funeral – The Open Mind – 1964 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Dying. Contrary to what everyone hopes, it’s the inevitable. And along with the inevitable comes the inevitable funeral. Times have certainly changed since the 60s when Funerals, burials and memorials have gone from the elaborate to the simple (as least as far as America is concerned). In the 1960s, the traditional funeral was a costly affair – a drop in the bucket, compared to what it would be today. A funeral today with burial goes for roughly $8-10,000 and up – Cremation (simple without the funeral) is roughly $700.00.

But in the 1960s, Dying became something of an industry and to many it was an industry that saw no chance of going away – certainly saw growth (with Baby Boomers and all) – and a growing culture of Funeral Directors taking advantage of the one thing that was constant; grief. Add to that the exploitation of that grief, encouraging a vulgar ostentation to the point of undermining the reverence of the ceremony itself and an outpouring of anger and resentment by the public they are claiming to serve.

Obviously, there were those who bristled at the idea of turning the ritual of death and dying into a profitable business. But with just about every aspect of the human experience, deriving maximum profit from a final rite of passage could be seen as a chance to cash in, and the funeral only seemed natural. Think; Housing as another rite of passage capitalized to the exclusion of the human experience. Oh well. The list could go on.

This discussion, part of the Open Mind series when it was initially on NBC, takes on the subject of Death and Dying as a Business. On hand are Leroy Bowman, retired Sociologist at Brooklyn College and author of the book “The American Funeral” – Kenneth E. Simpson, a funeral director from Brockton Massachusetts – Reverend Donald Harrington, Unitarian Minister in New York and a founder of the Community Funeral Society and Mr. Desmond Smith, contributor to The Economist Magazine and freelance writer.

The 60s were a lot of things, and opportunity was certainly one of them.

Here is that discussion from The Open Mind in 1964.

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