The year was 1948 when I arrived in Minden where I was to take over the position of projectionist at the Beaver Theater and my father had suggested I look up a gentleman he knew by the name of Frank Welch, who was the local mortician, and ask if he would help me locate a place where I could obtain room and board.
Frank was more than helpful and suggested that if I wished I could stay at his place as he had plenty of room. As far as meals were concerned I could eat there as well but with the understanding that if he had a funeral supper could run a little late. We made a deal right there and then that I would pay ten dollars per week but would be responsible for my own laundry.
During my stay there his assistant, John Fleming, got married and needing help while he was away on his honeymoon, Frank brought in a chap from Hamilton whom he had known for many years by the name of Stan Roberts.
Well, Stan was a character one would never forget! Short in stature with a five o'clock shadow and always with a wad of cigar tobacco shoved into his mouth along the jaw line, one had only to look at Stan and given two choices as to what his profession might be you would come up with either Undertaker or Clergyman.
Stan gave many folks a few laughs and was a daring type of person never backing away from a challenge. Always in his black suit, white shirt with a detachable collar and black tie with shoes shining to the point where one could see their face in them, Stan would take a stroll over town where he would pay a visit to the Dominion Hotel for the purpose of quenching his thirst.
I recall one day in a summer month, when Minden would be packed with cottagers and tourists, a local fellow told him that if he would remove his tie, reverse his collar and go into the hotel with him, he would buy him a beer. Stan immediately took off the tie, turned the collar around and in they went. Those in the hotel who knew Stan had a great laugh but soon the waiters were coming over to his table with free beer from customers who wanted to "buy the Reverend gent a drink."
Some three hours or so later Stan departed from the hotel and was in great shape and in days to come would sometimes borrow (which he referred to as "the entrance fee") a dime for a draught and would repeat his escapade that never seemed to fail during the tourist season.
Frank was a man who didn't like the idea of anyone drinking too much and Stan, rather than face Frank's wrath, would go out to the area where the caskets were stored and just crawl into one and go to sleep for a couple of hours and if necessary sometimes for the entire night.
I recall a friend of my wife asking him how he could do such a thing as sleep in a coffin as it gave her the "creeps" just thinking about dead bodies.
Why should it bother you said Stan. "It isn't the ones who are dead that will harm you, its the ones still walking around that might stab you in the back."