Religion: One-Class Death

Like the weddings performed by Dog-patch's Marryin' Sam—who climaxes his deluxe $2.98 ceremony by thrusting a pair of lighted candles in his ears and jumping off a cliff whistling The Burning of Rome—French funerals come in several grades. It is the undertakers who set these grades, but the church has usually gone along. The cheapest funeral (about $30) is Class 6, which provides no more than a modest hearse, a quick ceremony. Those who want to depart in style can, for a price (as high as $3,000), have black crape hung from the church's inner walls and black crape muffling the...

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