I ran across a headline about how the police had gotten involved when a Council Bluffs man tried to sell a coffin and I thought it was a bit ridiculous. However, that was before I realized that he’d apparently been trying to sell a coffin with human remains inside. Instantly, I took my indignation back. I now have no problem that the police had gotten involved.
Apparently, the coffin had belonged to a now defunct Council Bluffs chapter of the International Order of Odd Fellows. As the article reports, the chapter had used the coffin in ceremonies to represent death and Dave Burgstrum put the coffin on Craig’s List to try to repay property taxes owed on the organization’s hall. However, police got involved when they realized that the coffin had a skeleton inside (though apparently not original to the coffin, instead donated by a doctor who retired in the late 1800s).
This all seemed a little strange. Why did they use a coffin with a skeleton inside as a symbol of death? That isn’t so much a symbol as actual death. It’s human remains. Couldn’t they have just used the coffin? Were the bones the draw for the sale? I’m assuming so, if Burgstrum was asking $12,000 (though he claims to have only been interested in selling the coffin, something I’d imagine would fetch much less than $12,000), but if not then why not just get rid of the bones and avoid police involvement?
Regardless of whatever is actually going on here, I’m thinking that the “Odd Fellows” name is seeming kind of apt right now.
(Unrelated note: if it isn’t July 2013 yet and you haven’t voted for story of the month over at Bartleby Snopes, consider popping over and voting for my story “The Des Moines Kabuki Dinner Theatre.” You don’t have to sign up for anything, give any personal information, or install any apps to vote. Spread the word.)