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Flowers for Rose: 1950

Flowers for Rose: 1950

May 1950. Washington, D.C. "Miss Dorothy Torr [client]. Funeral flowers." Rose Bell Torr in repose. Safety negative by Theodor Horydczak. View full size.

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Research on Rose and family

Thanks to stanton_square's posting of Rose's obituary, I'm able to find the following:

Rose was born either in 1872 or 1873 in Nova Scotia. She emigrated to the US sometime in 1879 at the age of six.

In the 1900 Census, Charles and Ruth lived in Lynn, Massachusetts. Charles is listed as having been born in Massachusetts.

In the 1920 Census, Charles and Ruth lived in Ramsey, Minnesota.

In the 1930 Census, they were living in Hennepin, Minnesota. They had three children: Dorothy, Roland and Ruth, all born in Massachusetts. Charles is listed as a Stationary Engineer at General Electric.

Lastly, the Pumphrey Funeral Home in Bethesda, Maryland, is still there.

Pumphrey Funeral Home

Washington Post, May 12, 1950.

In Memoriam

Torr, Rose Bell Hurlburt, On Wednesday, May 10, 1950, at her home 8403 Irvington ave., Bethesda, Md., ROSE BELL HURLBURT TORR, beloved wife of the late Charles Stevens Torr and mother of Dorothy and Ruth Torr. Remains resting at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Funeral Home of Robert A. Pumphrey, Bethesda, Md., where services will be held Saturday May 13, at 2 p.m. Internment Forest Oak Cemetery, Gaithersburg, Md.

Meeting my relatives

In the early 1900's my youthful grandparents came to the USA from Poland. They left their own parents, siblings and other family members, never to see them again and with no pictures to look at, I could only imagine what they looked like. But as these relatives started to die off, 'death pictures' were sent in the mail to my grandfather very similar to this but nowhere near as elaborate. He would show us the pictures of his "old country" loved ones in their coffins We were not frightened since, as kids we went to a lot of funerals when children did not require a constant flow of drinks, snacks and electronics to keep them entertained, just told to sit down and shut up. In those days, people who were quite poor could not afford to have pictures made as we do today, but would try to have a "last photo" as described, as a keepsake. When I was older and heard about the tradition of death masks, I was glad we did not have any of those hanging around the house, although many people did have them made including Abe Lincoln, Napoleon, Beethoven, Ben Franklin, Nikola Tesla, even Alfred Hitchcock among others. It all started even before the time of Tutankhamen.

Some Changes

Having worked part-time for a funeral home (had two girls to put through college), I see some things missing in this picture that have become part of today's funeral home chapel.

Modern chapels have a pink colored spotlight on the ceiling, pointing down towards the deceased person's face. Its purpose is to assist in making the deceased person's face look more rosy (lifelike) in coloring.

Also, kneelers are usually placed directly in front of the casket, so that mourners are able to kneel down to pray.

Also, florists now usually provide wire stands for the flowers sprays that are attached to the accordion-like devices on the right side of the picture. These devices are now usually to hold collages with pictures.

And YES, families still do request private time to take photos of the deceased to send to those who cannot come in person to the wake.

Funeral photos

Miss Rose Bell Torr looks pretty old and probably had a good life. Her relative gave her a beautiful sendoff, and who wouldn't want to remember that. I wish photos had been taken for my three family members who died.

[Rose was a Mrs. - Dave]

Oh. Well, than maybe not.

Dark Shadows

I wonder if those dark spots might not be paint roller marks. They show up under the right light conditions. I've noticed the same thing on my own living room ceiling.

RE: Check the pipes!

Based on the uniformity of the dark patches on the ceiling, I'd say it was the lights reflecting through the cut glass pieces in the ornamental fixture.

Photos or Video?

I work at a funeral home. I only know of one circumstance (since I started working there) where a family member has taken video of the funeral service. As a general rule, we tend to not encourage photography or videotaping at the funeral home. Most families don't ask anyway.

The casket, in this photo, seems very fancy. Today's prices for a casket like that would make one pass out.


Although i haven't seen anyone take photographs of the deceased, i have been to funerals where people have been videotaping the entire thing!

A rose

for a Rose. Embarrassed to admit this, but a friend recently emailed me a photo of his deceased mother. So I would have to say this practice continues, although much to my distaste.

May I add, I prefer the before photos rather than the after to remember someone.

Check the pipes!

Are those just shadows on the ceiling, or did the mourners stage a smoke-in, or do we have a plumbing problem?

Even 63 years later

Most wakes down in Louisiana look exactly like this. Although photographing the deceased in the casket was normal well into the 1930s, for the most part it died out.

[So to speak. -Dave]

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