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Archive for June, 2010

The Back Board

It’s Sunday morning. I have the duty today. No new calls this morning. I’ve got a visitation and scripture service here tonight. And the whole day to myself (which is nice sometimes) to get paperwork done and finish printing up stuff for tomorrows services.

The Back Board

There are 8 names on the back board. You know the board. Yours may be white and it may be in the office, heck it might even be on the computer. Ours is an old chalk blackboard. Custom painted over 60 years ago with headings that mattered then, that don’t even make sense today. There is a column for where to pick up the minister. That’s from the days where the ministers didn’t have cars and lived next door to the church. There is a column for who’s driving the pall bearer car. We haven’t used a pall bearer car in 20 years and only go in procession to the cemetery 10% of the time. There’s a column for where to deliver chairs for the receptions after the service. When I started in working here in high school I would deliver chairs to homes in canvas bags, along with a big 100 cup coffee pot in a custom made wooden box my uncle made. Then I’d go back later and load all the chairs in the bags, toss them in a truck and bring them back. We don’t do that any more. We opened our family center for receptions over 20 years ago. Now families have their ham buns and potato salad gatherings here at our place and we do all the clean up instead of the hauling.

Anyway, back to the present. There are 8 names on the board. There is 1 burial and 7 cremations. Not a single one of these calls is what would have been considered a standard funeral when I started doing this in 1985.

Back then 75% of the time it would have been visitation 2-4 & 7-9 pm with a nice 20 gauge sealer casket and a Continental vault and the same register book and the same folders with the 23rd psalm on them. Service the next day with a procession to the cemetery and then off to the church for a reception. We’d deliver the plants, planters and vases to the residence and distribute all the cut flowers to nursing homes. And damn, we were real good at that. It was like a well oiled machine. And, as my wife likes to say, we made money by accident.

Back to the present, again. Of the 7 cremations on the board there are 3 church memorial services, 3 funeral home memorial services and 1 memorial visitation. 3 of the services are at night (5pm and later). We are doing full Life Story services on 5 of them, which means printing custom folders, framed Life Panels, 2 videos each and more. Plus having the video equipment set at the chapels for Life Stories and webcasting. Plus taking the portable video stuff to the church and the country club for the reception. Plus being prepared to be the Master of Ceremony at those Life Story services. Each service has it’s own little nuances and things that have to be done to customize it to the families unique needs. And we already had 3 private family viewings of dressed unembalmed bodies that lasted for at least an hour each.

And I love doing all of it. I love putting on wonderful events and making people all warm and fuzzy. I love helping people say their last goodbyes.

It’s just that sometimes I wish for the old days where things were regular and predictable. Things just aren’t the same any more.

I’m Dale Clock. Thanks for listening

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Let’s Get Started

Hi. I’m Dale Clock.

I am the boss, the big cheese, the head dude, the one ultimately responsible for everything that goes on in my family business. And it’s not always a very fun job. Still, I love what I do. It can fill my soul. But it can also be a very lonely place.

I’ve been thinking about writing a blog for some time now. I want it to be a place for people that are in similar situations to feel like they are not alone.

A place to share good times and bad times. Successes and failures. A place to share the real and the absurd, the funny and the heart warming.

And I hope it helps a few people along the way.

I’m calling this blog Dale-Time. Because it’s my time to reflect. It’s a little Dale time. Like mommy time or play time……Plus it’s a play on my name too. Dale Clock. Clock —- Time. Dale —- Time.  Real clever, huh?

Here is a little background.

I own and operate 3 funeral homes in west Michigan. The firm was started by my great grandfather in 1897. I’ve been officially working in the business since 1985. (longer if you count the car washing , grass mowing and flower delivery driving I did in high school). I attended Northwestern University on a NROTC full ride scholarship. I graduated in 1979 with a degree in Industrial Engineering. Served as a Naval officer for 5 years, made 3 overseas deployments. After my Navy time I returned to the family business, went to Worsham College of Mortuary Science and became a Licensed Funeral Director in 1985.

A lot has happened since then. Some good, some bad, but all of it together has made me who I am today. I’ll be sharing some of the past, along with current events in the ever changing challenges of running a family funeral home. I hope you find some of it entertaining, some of it educational, some of it motivational and most of it worth your time.

And if you run a family business too, I hope some of my words will let you know that you’re not alone out there. That somebody gets what you’re going through.

I’m Dale Clock. Thanks for listening.

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