Tuesday, May 5, 2009


There are one or two things that I don’t think have I mentioned which may surprise you.

Funerals are treated with far greater respect that in Britain. When you arrive at the church, a member of the Funeral Director’s staff (called Morticians here) places a magmount flag on your car. This means that the car is not contravening any parking regulations whilst you are in the church, and when the party leaves, the resulting convoy has priority at all junctions, including red lights so long as the hazard flashers are on. Round here the usual procedure is for a service in the city church followed by a drive outside city limits to the appropriate cemetery where a short farewell service is held. It is not customary to stand at the graveside whilst the new occupant is lowered in. The coffin is left in the cemetery chapel to be interred later while the mourners go off for a meal together.

On Sundays certain streets in the City have temporary one-way regulations so as to facilitate parking for churchgoers. There are about three very large churches here and you have to be alert if out and about on Sunday mornings. As you can imagine, as America’s founding was based, among other things, on freedom of worship, there is a very high church/population ratio. Churches are exempt from property taxes; recently the Catholic Diocese closed quite a number of churches in order to save money, now the local authorities are demanding property taxes on the buildings as they are no longer exempt! That caused quite a major upset which hasn’t yet been resolved!

Another big difference is in the appointing of public officers, except here they are not appointed but voted for. Take for instance the post of coroner, in the UK the post is advertised, interviews held and the successful candidate appointed. Over here the coroner is appointed by a ballot of the citizens as are other posts such as chief of police, fire chief, judge, sheriff, mayor etc etc. The polling day for this mass of dignitaries is due around the middle of this month.

I still think Obama is doing a good job, but as I have already said I am the only member of the family who thinks so - so I keep stum!!

This time last week the temperature was 93F, today it is 54 and has been raining almost non stop for two days. Still we need it as we are about four inches short so far this year, not quite as May should be, but we hope for better times. Anyway, the flags are flying out front, the carpet is back down in the porch, the cushions are on the seats and the wind chimes are merrily chiming away (that is they will be as soon as one of us can remember in which box in the basement they were put last autumn!)

By the way, I have just remembered another little oddity here in Pennsylvania. On the open road if a vehicle is traveling at less than 40mph they are obliged to turn on the hazard flashers. This is not a federal law, just peculiar to Pa. Usually you would see this on a truck on an uphill grade.

Until next time


1 comment:

Ashley said...

Hi Henry

I love getting your Letters from America :-)

love & light, Ashley