“The Undertaker’s Daughter” by Kate Mayfield
c.2015, Gallery Books
$24.99 / $29.99 Canada
You are a chip off the old block.
You’re just like your father. Just like your mother. Cut from the same cloth and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – which was okay when you were a kid. Back then, you wanted to grow up just like them anyhow.
Or not. When you’re the child of a parent with an unusual career – for instance, if you’re “The Undertaker’s Daughter” – you might, as did Kate Mayfield, pick another path.
Kate Mayfield spent most of her young life surrounded by death.
Just after she was born in the late 1950s, her parents moved the family to tiny Jubilee, Kentucky, where Mayfield’s father had decided to open a funeral home. There were two funeral homes there – one for Jubilee’s black residents and one for whites – but he reasoned that there was room for competition.
He didn’t reckon on the town’s Old Guard, which closed ranks among themselves and almost stopped the newcomer in his tracks.
Slowly, though, and with the help of one of the town’s most eccentric and forward-thinking residents, Mayfield’s father was accepted in the small town and his business thrived. He hired a few locals for help when times were busy and, as was the norm then, he also ran one of the town’s ambulances. The family lived in an apartment above the coffins and embalming room, Mayfield’s mother worked her way into the town’s social life, the Mayfield children settled into Jubilee’s schools, and the dead came and went at Mayfield and Son Funeral Home.
But Jubilee was no Mayberry.
Racism was a way of life there and, though Mayfield says that the family maid was sometimes her only friend, there was an otherwise strict separation of black and white. As time passed, life in the small-town became a cauldron of gossip and sniping; Mayfield was reprimanded by teachers and taunted by schoolmates for liking a black boy; and The Old Guard continued to plague her father, whose secrets began to affect everyone around him. Mayfield, a teenager by then, knew her family would never leave Jubilee…. but she couldn’t wait to go.
Have you ever gotten a gift that was different – and better – than you expected? That’s what happens when you open “The Undertaker’s Daughter.”
You might think, for example, that the title indicates a tale of living with a funeral director, but you’d only be partially correct. Author Kate Mayfield includes plenty of funny, heartfelt, sad memories of life above death, though she starts her book with a game of bridge and a love letter to small town life, a lifetime ago.
And yet – we see the dark spots, and the love letter soon becomes a Dear John letter. For that, I buried myself in this book.
While you may (rightly) see comparisons to a couple of popular works of fiction, remember that this book is a memoir - and a good one at that. Look for “The Undertaker’s Daughter” and you’ll be glad to block off your time for it.
If? By Jeffrey Allen Federowicz
A puny word if is. Only two letters, a vowel and noun, nothing too fancy.
However with a bit of imagination and some deep-thinking if can become an amusing or thought-provoking word if you play along.
There's a road trip game my friends and I play when we hit the highway, it’s called if.
There's no game pieces, play money or scores to keep, it’s just if.
To play you need a few friends, a handful of quirky hypothetical questions and a lot of imagination.
Ok? Put your books and pencils down its time for a quiz, it’s time to being if.
• If your dog could talk, what would said dog say about you?
• If you could change one mistake from your past, what would it be?
• If you could do something wild for just one day what would you do?
• If you could have lunch with any one person in the world who would it be and where would
• If you could erase your most embarrassing experience what would it be?
• If could enhance one part of your body what part would it be?
• If you could take back words or actions that caused ill will to other would you?
• If you had your dream job what would you be doing?
• If you could easily change your first name what would be your new name?
• If you had your choice would you rather have fame, fortune or a simple and happy life?
• If you could have a cameo in any one film, what film would you select?
• If you could permanently change one thing about Williamsport what would it be?
Cotton Bud Snowflakes Craft
Kids can have a go at this fun cotton bud snowflakes craft during the winter or for Christmas. Glittering the ends of the cotton buds is fun to do, and the sticky tack makes them satisfyingly quick to turn out, so make as many as you have gems! Tack them to the wall, like Sarah and the boys have done, or display in a window.
You will need:
• 3 cotton buds per snowflake
• White or silver glitter
• Sticky tack or thread to hang
Dip each end of the cotton buds in glue and then into glitter, and let dry.
Use sticky tack to join the middle of your cotton buds together so the ends spread out in 6 points.
Cover one side of the sticky tack with a large gem, and use the other to stick the snowflake to the wall or window.
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