In the Kokomo Perspective, Don Hamilton writes:
Back in the early 1940s, they had funerals in the homes. A relative would die, and their casket would be placed in the corner of some room in the house, so that visitors could come and pay their respects. Most of the visiting family members would spend the night with the dearly departed laid out in the next room.
To a boy of 10, this was not pleasant, especially at night when going to the bathroom required a trip past the deceased in the darkened room.
Shadows danced across the casket, cast by the moonlight and the blowing leaves from the trees outside the window. The dim lighting could play tricks on your eyes and make it appear as though the person in the casket was starting to move. You talk about hot footing it across a floor. I ran to and from that bathroom as fast as my 10-year-old feet could carry me.
I remember when the widow lady next door died. Guess what? My brother and I slept upstairs, and our younger sister slept downstairs. Her window was directly across from the window where the neighbor’s casket could be clearly seen. Well, it wasn’t long before our sister (Becky Beane), was yelling for dad. My dad, in turn, yelled for me and made me go downstairs and sleep with my sister. I, of course, had to sleep closest to the window.
I got the courage to look over toward the neighbor lady, all dressed in black and somberly laying with her arms neatly crossed. Just as my imagination began to soar, my sister touched my leg with her toe. I know she did it to scare me, and it worked. It seems funny now, but it wasn’t then.
I am not sure when they stopped the practice of having the body of a loved one displayed in the home, but I am glad that they did.