From July 10, 1910
STRANGE FASHIONS IN BURIAL ROBES: How the Whims of Various Eccentric People as to How They Should Be Clothed in Death Are Carried Out (PDF)
Not surprisingly, a lot of women wanted to be buried in the wedding dresses. And one woman wanted to be buried in all her expensive furs so that none of her feuding relatives could have them. But this story is my favorite:
“One of the oddest whims I have ever been called upon to humor was that of the man who insisted on going to his grave wrapped in the traditional sheet. He sent for me several days before he died and explained his fancy.
“I misunderstood him at first. I thought he meant an ordinary white shroud… But he quickly corrected that impression.
“‘I don’t mean anything of the kind,’ he said. ‘I want to be buried in a sheet — a plain, every-day white sheet.’
“For once my curiosity got the better of my good manners.
“‘I will do as you ask, of course,’ I said, ‘but will you kindly tell me why you want to be dressed in that peculiar style?’
“The old fellow’s answer fairly staggered me.
“‘Because I am going to do a good deal of haunting when I’m through with the flesh,’ he said, ‘and I’m going to take the sheet along with me, so there will be no delay about getting down to business. I’m going to leave lots of people behind who have been playing me mean tricks all their lives. I have never been able to get back at them in my present state, but just wait till I get clear of these fetters, and if I don’t haunt them good and hard and make them wish they’d done the square thing by me when they had a chance it won’t be my fault.’
“I couldn’t make it out then, and I have not been able to make out since, whether the old chap was downright crazy or just eccentric,” concluded the undertaker. “Any way, it was not my business to investigate his mental condition. My business was to bury him in a sheet, so long as he asked me to and was willing to pay for it, and I performed my part of the transaction to the letter.”
I’m skeptical, though. The undertaker is never named, and being buried in a white sheet doesn’t seem like so outrageous a request that it would prompt such surprise. The more I come across articles like this, the more I think 1910 must have been a weird time to live.