ORIGINAL AND UNIQUE
He was a genial-looking, bald-headed man of 59, but when he heard us talking about Christmas gifts he sobered up a little and said:
“I am also going to take advantage of the occasion to make a gift. Ah! poor Mary!”
“What’s the matter with Mary?” asked one of the drummers.
“Mary was my wife, sir. She has been dead these five years.”
“Oh! that’s it? Please excuse me. I thought perhaps you were speaking of a sick or crippled child.”
“You are excused. Yes, Mary was my first wife, and she was a treasure. She will not know that I am making her a Christmas present, but I shall do it as a matter of duty and love. It is in the baggage car ahead.”
“Isn’t that rather queer to make a Christmas gift to a dead person?” asked the drummer after a silence lasting a minute or two.
“I think it is,” was the reply, “but it must serve to show that I treasure her memory. It cost $25, and stands four feet high. I do not think I could have got a more suitable gift. If she could speak I know that she would express her great satisfaction.”
“Might I ask the nature of the gift?” was the cautious query.
“Oh! certainly. It is a fine Italian marble headstone to mark Mary’s grave. I hope to have it set up on Christmas eve.”
“You–you have waited five years to get that headstone?”
“Yes, sir. I have been busy getting married twice again and burying a second wife, and have Just get around to it. Next Christmas I shall present the other one with a similar Santa Claus gift. I think the idea original and unique, don’t you?”
“No, sir!” stiffly replied the drummer, as he rose up.
“What’s the matter?”
“I am, going out for a smoke, and I had as soon tell you that I think you are a blamed mean man! I suppose you’ll buy your third wife a coffin for a Christmas gift won’t you?”
“No, of course not. No, sir, I wouldn’t do such a thing as that. I’ve already selected her gift”
“And may I ask what it is?” sneered the drummer as he moved away.
“You may, sir–you may. I have bought a lot in the cemetery and had the deed made out in her name, and she’ll be tickled half to death over it!”
Los Angeles [CA] Times 19 December 1897: p. 41
Chris Woodyard is the author of The Victorian Book of the Dead, The Ghost Wore Black, The Headless Horror, The Face in the Window, and the 7-volume Haunted Ohio series. She is also the chronicler of the adventures of that amiable murderess Mrs Daffodil in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales. The books are available in paperback and for Kindle. Indexes and fact sheets for all of these books may be found by searching hauntedohiobooks.com. Join her on FB at Haunted Ohio by Chris Woodyard or The Victorian Book of the Dead and on Twitter @hauntedohiobook. And visit her newest blog The Victorian Book of the Dead.