Lincoln’s Last Rides
The Lincoln hearse above is an Eagle.
Originally published in the March/April 2008 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 281).
If you must go the only way to go is in a Lincoln. Gregg Merksamer, Warwick, New York, and a member of the Professional Car Society sends us these photos of Lincoln funeral cars past and present.[Below] is a story on Rick Franklin’s 1986 Lincoln hearse, which to the best of our knowledge is the only known Lincoln hearse to be entered at an LCOC National Meet.
Rick Franklin’s 1986 Lincoln Hearse
By Digger O’Dell
Hoe there Riley, it is I. It is I, indeed, Digby O’Dell, the friendly undertaker. You can just call me “Digger” for short. You’re looking fine, very natural.
I had such a wonderful time last summer at the Annual Wester Meeting of the Lincoln and Continental Owner’s Club in Federal Way, Washington.
I adore this part of the country. Usually gray and gloomy, cold and drizzly perfect for people in my profession. But this time the skies were slightly warm and sunny, not exactly good for my business.
Anyway, among the vehicles entered was a 1986 Lincoln Town Car hearse owned by Rick Franklin of Bellevue , Washington, just around the corner from my establishment. Rick and I both also belong to the Professional Vehicle Society, a lively group dedicated to the preservation of funeral hearses and ambulances. This particular vehicle is a Sayer and Scovill funeral coach. I am told it is one of 14 Lincoln funeral cars built by Sand S in 1986 . Rick purchased the vehicle from a livery service in Wisconsin . He was told it had three previous owners . The vehicle had 75,000 miles when Rick purchased it. Now the vehicle ha s 97,000 miles. Like me, it has covered a lot of ground.
Being a mid western vehicle, it has a little rust, which I personally find quite appropriate , but judges might be mortified. Mechanically, the hearse is as sound as Grant’s Tomb. I would not be afraid to get in that hearse and drive to my favorite tourist attraction in the Los Angeles area , Forest Lawn.
Rick has not had to spend a lot of money on this one, or put it another way, he is not buried in it. He claims he gets up to 21 miles per gallon on the highway using cruise control and keeping it under 70. It is a heavy vehicle weighing close to 6,000 pounds not counting the occupant in the rear.
Rick has named the vehicle Mortitia. I have a daughter of the same name, and a son who we names Mossbank.
Ahh, how my wife Crypteldia would love driving such a vehicle to the annual gathering of the U.E.P.B.L.A.L.L.A. You see that stands for the “Undertakers Embalmers and Pall Bearers Live and Let Live Association”. Another lively group of which I am a proud member.
I understand that the LCOC is planning a number of tours for 2008. I must remind them to be sure to turn on their lights. Well, Cheerio, I’d better be shoveling off!
Editor’s Note: For those too young to remember the days of radio, Digby O’Dell was a popular character on the program The Life of Riley in the forties. William Bendix played Riley and John Brown played Digger O’Dell and also Riley’s neighbor Gillis. Digger came on to the music of The Funeral March, and always started out with his famous entrance, “Hoe there Riley, it is I. It is I, indeed, Digby O’ Dell, the friendly undertaker. You’re looking fine, very natural.” When he would fix Riley ‘s problem Riley would say, “Digger you’ve just added 10 years to my life and Digger would answer, “Well then you don’t need me.”
Digger even appeared in the one Life of Riley movie where he was digging a six foot hole at the beach. He told Riley he was enjoying his favorite past time, digging for clams.