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.


  1. swo8 January 31, 2017 / 11:59 am

    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

    • Marilyn Armstrong January 31, 2017 / 4:09 pm

      I believe the end result was that the ME was let go and Boston had a lot to answer for. Garry has the rest of the story, but it’s a goodie. It wasn’t politics. it was ineptitude.

      Liked by 1 person

      • swo8 January 31, 2017 / 4:53 pm

        Or dear….not good


    • Garry Armstrong February 1, 2017 / 1:28 pm

      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

      • swo8 February 1, 2017 / 1:31 pm

        It probably happens more often than not, Garry. That’s why we need a healthy press to bring out the truth.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Garry Armstrong February 1, 2017 / 1:41 pm

          True, Leslie. But the landscape is much more dificult these days for reporters. I had much more freedom to pursue the truth not that many years ago.

          Liked by 1 person

            • Garry Armstrong February 1, 2017 / 1:47 pm

              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

              • swo8 February 1, 2017 / 1:49 pm

                They are younger and can handle it better than we can now.

                Liked by 1 person

  2. omniclassic January 31, 2017 / 3:18 pm

    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

    • Marilyn Armstrong January 31, 2017 / 4:10 pm

      And in Italy, I’m told they actually are burying them vertically … but even that’s not enough. No more room at the final resting place.


      • omniclassic January 31, 2017 / 7:54 pm

        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.


        • Marilyn Armstrong January 31, 2017 / 11:21 pm

          But they are actually doing it in Italy. i have it on very good authority. She just buried her mother in Italy. She oughtta know.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Garry Armstrong February 1, 2017 / 1:29 pm

      That’s a lot to chew on, Bro.


  3. evilsquirrel13 January 31, 2017 / 10:25 pm

    Sign me up! Why wait until I’m dead to experience the joy of direct cremation? Maybe I’d like to test drive it before my time comes…. would that be possible?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marilyn Armstrong January 31, 2017 / 11:20 pm

      And, if it doesn’t work out, you can take advantage of that money back guarantee! It’s a win-win!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Garry Armstrong February 1, 2017 / 1:31 pm

      What could possibly go wrong, Squirrel?? You’ll be right as rain!!


    • omniclassic February 1, 2017 / 3:35 pm

      My sources say that there is no trial run, no testing.., cremation is rather permanent, kind of a one shot deal, and very uncomfortable if attempted while still alive.


        • omniclassic February 2, 2017 / 12:25 am

          Dontcha just love it “alternative facts.” Boy does he know how to pick his staff.., she’s perfect for him.


  4. Jay E. February 5, 2017 / 8:33 am

    Didn’t the government in Fahrenheit 451 use direct cremation? Not that cremation is bad/evil, but it is bright and clean.


    • Marilyn Armstrong February 5, 2017 / 1:22 pm

      For books. They burnt books. 451 degrees is the temperature at which paper ignites. The only reason I know that is from reading the book. I think igniting a human needs a hotter fire.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jay E. February 5, 2017 / 2:38 pm

        Pretty sure they did it with people, too. Hmmm. To the library!


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