In the eighties, I bought my own coffin. I figured why wait till I die, to own the most expensive piece of wood I will ever need. Most people never get to know their coffin. I have a relationship with mine.
So, I bought a Victorian Coffin with a viewing window at the flea market at 26th street. I could date it if I wanted to. How do I know the exact date?
I tied the coffin to the top of my stationwagon and the plan was to drive it over the Williamsburg bridge to Ridgewood Queens where I lived. So, what was the hold up?
I found myself driving with my coffin on the roof of my station wagon in the middle of the first Aids Rally ever in New York.
It was impossible to drive a block with a coffin on top of the station wagon.
Everyone thought I was making a political statement with the coffin. They had no idea that I was just planning to use the coffin as a display for my kitchen bowls, and that it was going to remain in my dining room area.
So, I was able to move about 8 blocks an hour and so needed a back up plan.
I decided to move the coffin to my storage facility in the basement of the barber shop on St. Mark’s place next to Dojo’s. The plan was to move it temporarily to the basement and then bring it home the next day.
I had storage on St. Mark’s place because I had book vendors selling for me on St. Mark’s and the surrounding area. I had like four guys selling for me. Whitey Sterling, Howie Pyro, Brett Wilder, and Phillipe Marcade (oh he came aboard later) and a host of other New York rockers sold my vintage paperbacks back on the street back then.
So, the look of surprise on a sunday morning brunch crowd at dojo’s eating their salad with a delicious carrot dressing as I brought my coffin down into the basement next door did not go unnoticed by the four pallbearing friends of mine. The coffin was not light by the way but it has beautiful engraved metal handles on it and we had a good laugh watching those folks try to understand why a coffin was being moved down into a basement on a sunday morning.
I don’t remember actually moving the beast again, but I do remember that the day I moved it into the apartment and got it in place for the time being was in the corner of the kitchen, and it was in front of the fire escape and wouldn’t you know it, the kid who lived next door lost his ball on my fire escape and I had to show him the coffin and explain that I could not move it anymore for the day.
He was Yugoslavian and I always wondered what he told his parents was the reason why I couldn’t retrieve his ball.
Ten years later, the coffin went through a fire.(It no longer was in front of the fire escape.) It did have some burn marks and the bubbled viewing window of the coffin, blew out during the fire. The fire was set by the landlord who was anxious to have me fit into that coffin. It was a stupid mob guy who was cracked out.
I moved the coffin to my warehouse apartment where once again it stored my beautiful vintage eartenware bowls.
When Dawn came to my warehouse apartment for the first time, she was speechless. I lived in 2000 square foot of walls built entirely of hundreds of suitcases… There was 1600 square foot basement filled with… you got it. suitcases. I loved suitcases over boxes. Why? You can carry two suitcases at a time, one in each hand, over a box at a time.
I was truly a man with tons of baggage. She was completely freaked out by everything in that warehouse. When she saw that I had my own coffin and that it contained beautiful bowls, she broke down and cried.
She could not see, how it would ever be possible to have a normal life. I explained to her that our life together would not be normal but that my coffin would help when I was dead,”You just tell the Funeral Director that a coffin was not necessary. That Larry came into my life with his own coffin and that he wanted to save some money by getting his own coffin while he was alive, and using it throughout his living days.
She wept more. I pulled down a suitcase of jewelry and said,”See if you can find yourself a real diamond, or a ring that at least you like. She looked at the hundreds of pieces of jewelry and wept more.
Finally, she stopped crying and began to love the coffin and the suitcases
When we moved out of the warehouse, the coffin went to the store. I use it to this day to sell items out of it. It is a nice display for spooky items. For example, I have a great head that was built as a prop and that sits in it.
The head is actually the average weight of an actual head. A head weighs more than you’d think. It was a head made for a prop in a play. When you drop the head, it has a great thump to it. I’d like the head to be buried with me when I die too.
I believe this coffin has been one of the best purchases I have ever made…
I mean, I have bought out funeral parlors before and have had many coffins for sale. This particular coffin is now an old friend and it will be hard to say goodbye to it.
I mean when I die, I guess I’ll be saying hello to it, not goodbye.