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Taking it to the Grave

September 3, 2013

Undertakers will honor most funeral requests (as long as they’re legal). Check out these strange things people are buried with.

Strange Things People Are Buried WithRECLINER. Reuben John Smith (d. 1899) liked to relax in life, so he asked that his eternal resting place be a leather recliner and that a checkerboard be placed in his lap. (Smith also asked to be buried with a key to his tomb in case the undertakers made a mistake.)

WHISTLE. In To Have and Have Not (1944), Lauren Bacall delivers a famous line to real-life future husband Humphrey Bogart: “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together…and blow.” After Bogart was cremated, Bacall put a golden whistle in the urn with his ashes.

PIPE AND TOBACCO. Sixteenth-century explorer Sir Walter Raleigh is credited with popularizing tobacco smoking in England, a habit he picked up on his travels to the New World. His last request before being executed for treason in 1618: one final smoke. Raleigh’s will provided for “ten pounds of tobacco, and two pipes” for any smoker who attended his funeral, and requested that he be buried with his favorite pipe and some tobacco, in a coffin lined with wood from his cigar boxes.

PETS. Ancient Egyptians are famous for it, and people today still like the idea of being buried with their animal companions. Cemeteries have started selling combined burial plots so that owners can lie beside their beloved pets for eternity. One 68-year-old woman from Surrey, England, asked that her cat be put down and buried with her. (The funeral home refused.)

STETSON. Actor Tony Curtis died of heart failure in 2010. He asked for his casket to be filled with items he may “want in the next life,” including a Stetson hat, an Armani scarf, and Anthony Adverse, the novel that inspired his screen name. His family also put his iPhone in the casket…just in case.

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