Tommy Gibbons, the patriarch and neighborhood undertaker, was as Irish as they came. Dressed perpetually in a black suit, the dapper, silver haired gentleman was a crony of my Grandma Lillian, my dad’s mother. She would act as a receptionist for him and mind the funeral parlor and the corpses for him while he went to Church and visited with the other turkeys in the neighborhood.
Barb and I were fascinated by this necropolis. The ramifications of death had not sunk in, we were too young. We thought the funeral displays were beautiful. We would play down the block and pick gladiolas from the funeral displays that were discarded in the alley to bring home to our mother. Sometimes we cadged a memorial ribbon or two as well. The reaction from our mother was always the same: “Get those flowers out of here,” she shrieked, “I know where you found them. You got them at Gibbons.” We could not understand it—we thought they were pretty, but we dutifully obeyed and tossed the flowers in the trash behind the restaurant.
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