Hearse gambling is a tough one to prove, if proving means providing historical hearsay. I have a strong sense that I found such a Victorian newspaper item some time in 2016. I am equally positive that I read about a hearse that was used to haul fish that was then scorned by its townspeople. These were both plot elements that I folded into my novel. Did I cook them up?
Perhaps I did–I can’t find either story. This presents a stern lesson to the fledgling researcher: keep track of your sources. Befriending a great librarian wouldn’t hurt, either.
Now, I can only allege that there was a newspaper item about a heated game of cards that ended with a man winning a hearse and its horse team. And so, because of that, it’s just another tidbit for the blarney files.
Maybe I embellished a story about a traveler winning a carriage, rather than a hearse–nope, still zilch on that one. (Victorians did enjoy raffles, and winning a carriage for charity to a round of polite applause was a regular rich-person treat, if the papers are to be believed).
I visited a very odd rabbit hole to eliminate real information on this. I discovered that looking for the words gambling and hearse leads to Aretha Franklin, abandoned funeral homes, hearse houses and terrible horror movies. Searching for winning carriages yields those raffle stories and, disturbingly, a great many more carriage accident stories. I guess “winning” was those times not everyone died in the mishap.
Now I am itching to crash a hearse in the next book, so thank you, various old Chronicle and Influencer items.
Working backwards on the list, since I can do what I want, the horror movie that I rediscovered was The Hearse (1980). Joseph Cotten? You betcha. Trish Van Devere screaming at an old car? Of course!!
As for hearse houses, they are a thing I should have already known about, but did not. They were used to, um, house the hearses between uses. Any town that could afford a hearse would need to consider a hearse house, planted conveniently next to the winter crypt.
“Abandoned 19th century funeral home” sounds like a better premise for a horror movie than “shaky divorcee decides to squat in her satan-worshiping aunt’s house for no apparent reason except to be haunted by a car, because evil endures,” or something.
As for Aretha Franklin, I will just point: https://youtu.be/Thold1jasfs, so you got your soul intact.
I have a very eclectic headache, but thanks for joining me in it.
The second novel is coming along. So far, my favorite working title is “Harlot’s Last Laugh.” Waddayathink?
Further reading: Hearse facts for kids
Further, further reading:
Undertakers, Harlots and Other Odd Bodies is out now. A free preview is available and all electronic formats are priced at a very reasonable US$3.99!!
For reasons I do not yet understand, the UK kindle version doesn’t show up when you surf in from this side of the sea. Please let me know if your country isn’t offering my drivel and I’ll help get it delivered, the drivel that is.