I was driving along I-95 in Connecticut when I spotted the billboard for “Direct Cremation.”

cremation with confidenceTraffic was just slow enough for me to read a few lines of the pitch. It promised no fuss, no delays, no middle men, red tape … and a money back guarantee if unhappy with service. I wasn’t sure who’d get the money back.

I started laughing over Marty Robbins and “El Paso” playing on the oldies CD. I was still laughing when Marty’s gunfighter died in the arms of his young sweetheart. Instead of a tearful funeral and the strains of “Streets of Laredo,” maybe the gunfighter should have had direct cremation. No muss, no fuss, no mournful Boot Hill farewell.

Direct cremation may be the latest answer to a world of violence. Mob hits, drive by killings, gang bang slayings with collateral damage. Stressed out serial killers and contract button men doing “jobs.” The bodies just keep piling up. Medical Examiners are overworked and cemeteries are running out of room. The U.S. government, in its infinite wisdom, only give each citizen a whopping $242 per body. What to do?

Direct cremation!

Speaking of overworked medical examiners, I’m reminded of a story I covered in Boston.



Goes back 40 plus years. The county medical examiner was, if you’ll excuse me, “under the gun” with some of his findings. He didn’t look like Quincy, Ducky, or even the sexy Lacey from the “Castle” series. He was a sad, tired, bleary-eyed man in the autumn of his years.

Your favorite intrepid reporter (me) was on the scene. The M.E. was momentarily diverted so I could check the autopsy lab and the morgue. I found the controversial corpse and made a cursory examination. I confronted the M.E. about his findings on the case. He insisted the victim was stabbed to death. I asked him about the several large bullet holes I’d just found. He was speechless.

Direct cremation would have avoided a lot of controversy and embarrassing questions. It’s an idea whose time has come.

Author: Garry Armstrong

As a reporter for Channel 7 in Boston for 31 years, I was witness to most of the major events affecting the region. I met a lot of people ... politicians, actors, moguls, criminals and many regular folks caught up in extraordinary situations. Sometimes, I write about the people I've met and places I've been. Sometimes, I write about life, my family, my dogs and me. Or what might otherwise be called Life.


  1. How could he have missed the large bullet holes or was the result predetermined? That was good detective work on your part, Garry. Trouble with cremation in cases like this – all evidence is destroyed. But then again as you say the poor guy was overworked. I always liked the CSI goal of looking for the truth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leslie, that’s a true story with no embellishment. The coroner had a notorius drinking problem. Still, I was surprised to discover his mistake. That’s usually the stuff of a TV crime show, not reality.

      An idle thought: This piece was originally posted before 45 became a reality.

      Liked by 1 person

            1. Yep!! Right now, it seems it’s just the veteran reporters like Koppel, Brokaw and Rather who are speaking out and their bully pulpits are much smaller now.

              I hope reporters who are currently working the “45 beat” will not allow themselves to be beaten down. It’s an awesome task and not for the faint of heart.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! it’s like those ads asking that you to get in touch with a particular laws firm if you’ve suffered damage, sickness or death through the use of some prescription drug. “Sir, you say this drug killed you? Can I ask where you’re calling from?”

    Here’s another thought talking about cemeteries running out of space. When you are lying down, as when dead, you take up 8 to 10 times the area as when standing. I’ve been told even the low side of the equation is greatly reduced when cremated.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. But then you have to dig down deeper so the head is at least 6 feet from the surface. This makes for a much harder job for the grave diggers.., not to mention the hole has to be pretty narrow.., not easy to do. It’s just the engineer in me coming forward.


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