Toad in the Hole

November 02, 2005

Un Dia de los Muertos

An interview for All Souls' Day, with the woman who wrote Stiff and Spook. I intend to read them both, especially the former.

In memory of Aunt Katie Reith, who ran the funeral parlor on Main Street in Girardville after her husband, the owner of record, died. (No, I don't think she buried him herself, but that was before my time.) I have no idea where she did the embalming and prep, but the viewing room was her living room, and the kitchen in back always smelled like gladioli. And when I was there, cookies. I do remember being entertained at her kitchen table, not during a funeral or viewing (if I was at one of those, I was expected to behave myself, meaning sit quietly) but incidental to visiting Grammy and Poppop Adams, who lived up the street.

I hadn't seen her for years when she died, in 1978. I heard the news when I was sick and depressed -- sitting in Alta Bates Hospital here in Berkeley with my IV steroids just discontinued, which was like hitting an emotional brick wall -- and reading the inimitable Jessica Mitford's The American Way of Death. I sort of think Katie and Decca would have liked each other.

Posted at November 2, 2005 06:25 PM


Um. How did she pronounce her last name, I hesitate to ask.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at November 5, 2005 12:38 AM

Approximately "Wright." Hard Irish "th."

I do have in-laws of my paternal Grandmother's generation named "Mehlbaum," pronounced in the proper German way. And I've mentioned Jackie Hoar, haven't I?

Posted by: Ron at November 5, 2005 01:49 AM