Dead Woman Has To Pay Late Fees

Even the dead apparently have to pay the fines on their overdue books at one Harrison New York library.Final Taxi Logo

Elizabeth Schaper said she was charged a 50-cent late fee while turning in a book that her late mother had checked out of a Harrison Public Library branch.

“I was in shock,” Schaper said. “This has rocked me to my core”

Schaper’s mother, Ethel Schaper, died at the age of 87 on Sept. 16 after suffering a massive stroke. A few days later, Schaper said she found a library book, “The Price of Silence,” by Camilla Trinchieri, that her mother had checked out from the library.
“My mother was an avid reader – she read an average of two books a week,” Schaper said. “She was a frequent patron of the library.”

Schaper said she returned the book last week, and was stunned when the man behind the library counter told her of the 50-cent fee.

“I told him that maybe he didn’t hear me right, that my mother had just died, otherwise I’m sure that she would have returned it on time,” Schaper said. “His only reply was that, ‘That will be 50 cents.”‘

Connie Perrotta, a secretary for the director of the Harrison Public Library, confirmed the incident occurred but said that the library would have no comment.

Schaper said a couple days after the incident another library employee called to apologize and offered to return the fine she had paid.

PODCAST: Alice Ghostley: Not A Regular Face In The Crowd


Tony Award-winning actress Alice Ghostley, well-known to couch potatoes for playing confused sidekicks on Bewitched and Designing Women took her Final Taxi at 81.

From 1966 through 1972, she made regular appearances on the sitcom Bewitched as shy, bumbling witch Esmeralda From 1986 through 1993, Ghostley portrayed oddball neighbor Bernice Clifton on the hit series Designing Women. She earned an Emmy nomination for the role in 1992.

Over a six-decade career, she made more than 90 TV appearances in such shows as Evening Shade, Love, American Style and Mayberry R.F.D.
Ghostley appeared in 30 films, including To Kill a Mockingbird , The Graduate, Gator and Two on a Bench

A moment of silence for Marcel Marceau

Most of the mimes I have ever seen are just as annoying as the panhandlers you meet in any big city. I am not a fan but have seen a few that know what they are doing and can really pull it off.

Marcel Marceau, the most well-known mime artist, was one of those who you could enjoy  watching. Many people tied to imitate him with his famous – The Cage, Walking Against the Wind, The Maskmaker, The Park, among others. He also had  a gallery of unforgettable characters – head waiters, mad sculptors, matadors, dictators and ballet dancers.

Marcel Marceau took his Final Taxi at 84.

 Born Marcel Mange, Marceau was born in Strasbourg, France. At the age of 16, his Jewish family was forced to flee their home when France entered the WWII. He later joined Charles de Gaulle’s Free French Forces and, due to his excellent English, worked as a liaison officer with General Patton’s army. His father, a kosher butcher, was arrested by the Gestapo and died in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

 One of the earliest influences on Marceau’s work was the silent cinema. As a boy, he was fond of dressing up in his father’s trousers, and painting on a black moustache to do Charlie Chaplin impersonations for his playmates. Chaplin – along with Buster Keaton – remained his idol.

He studied mime in France and developed his own methods and also created was his most remembered character “Bip”.

 Since 1946, when he began his silent career, Mr. Marceau performed an average of 200 shows a year, most of them abroad, where he was more highly praised than in his native France. His repertory changed little over the decades, but he played to full houses in the United States, Germany and other European countries, Australia and Japan, where he was deemed “a national treasure.”

 My favorite movie with him is in Mel Brook’s Silent Movie. In his big scene Brook’s calls him on the phone.  All of the movie is silent except for the music. When Brook calls Marceau to be ask him if he will be in his ‘silent movie’ he responds with the ONLY speaking part in the entire movie, “NO!” 

PODCAST: Match Game’s Brett Somers Has Blanked

DIRECT MP3 DOWNLOAD: Brett Somers Takes Her Final Taxi

Actress and comedian Brett Somers, who amused game show fans with her quips on the “Match Game” in the 1970s, has taken her Final Taxi at 83.

Hosted by Gene Rayburn, “Match Game” was the top game show during much of the 1970s. Contestants would try to match answers to nonsense questions with a panel of celebrities; much of the humor came from the racy quips and putdowns which many came from Brett Somers.brettsomers21.jpg

She stared in my Broadway shows, movies and television shows like Barney Miller, MaryTyler Moore, Love American Style, and Perry Mason.

I adored her quick wit and outspokenness. She will be missed!

Also read/ listen about Brett’s Match Game buddy,
Charles Nelson Reilly

A Graveyard For Sports Fans.

I talked earlier this week about how here in Alabama their are fans that get their coffin the colors of there favorite college football team. Europe is now one on us here. They say true soccer fans remain faithful to their team until the day they take their Final Taxi, but that’s not long enough for the supporters of top German club Hamburger HSV. It’s building a cemetery for fans right next to the stadium.

Fans of German soccer club Hamburger SV are getting their own cemetery where they can rest in eternity within earshot of their stadium.

The club laid the foundation stone on Sunday for the graveyard which will be adorned with an entrance gate in the shape of a goal.

It is the first dedicated football cemetery in Germany and is located just a few meters away from the Nordbank Arena stadium where the club plays its home matches.

“We’ll have room for 300 to 500 graves,” Christian Reichert, a member of HSV’s managing board, told local TV station Hamburg 1. He said he had already received 15 requests to reserve a plot. “The oldest is 85 years old, the youngest 27.” The kick-off for burials is next year.

The graves will be arranged in a semi-circle on three ascending levels to resemble a football stand. The 2,500 square meter site is in the corner of an existing cemetery.

Reichert said the cemetery was being built in response to queries from some of the club’s 50,000 members about whether it would be possible to have their ashes scattered over the pitch, to be buried in the stadium or have an urn buried under the penalty spot.

Fans of England’s Everton Football club can have their ashes buried in an urn beside the pitch. German burial laws don’t allow that, but fans of German football clubs Schalke 04 and Borussia Dortmund can be buried in football-shaped urns or coffins painted in their team colors.

Reichert said the only other dedicated football cemetery he knew about was in Argentina, where the club Boca Juniors is building one.

He said the choice of headstone — perhaps in the shape of HSV’s diamond emblem — would be left open to fans but garish colors would not be encouraged. He said he could imagine flowers to be planted in the shape of the club’s emblem, and memorial stones to be erected to famous HSV players.

HSV supporter Ernst Schmidt, an 81-year-old widower, said he may reserve a plot even though he has already made arrangements to be buried alongside his wife. “I’m going to enquire whether it’s possible,” Schmidt told reporters. “I’ve been an HSV fan for 57 years. My life, it’s only football.”

Has America Forgotten It’s Famous Clown?

Final Taxi LogoFunny how you can go to a doctor’s offices and find magazines that are years old in the lobby. I had to go to a dentist two week ago and found a Golf magazine from the 80’s. I also found a magazine that told me the following story:

Decades ago, a young American was flying across the mountain ranges of Europe on his way to London. Accompanying his friend, a Catholic priest, the two were scheduled to have a meeting with the Pope in England. As the priest talked, the plane suddenly rocked. Then rocked again.
Something told the priest the plane was not destined to ever touch
land again.

The passengers, busy in their individual conversations, failed to notice, the priest observed, until a flight attendant made an announcement of impending doom. The plane was over a mountain range and losing altitude.

As expected, panic set in.

The priest loosened his seat belt, realizing he had but minutes to offer last rites to any who might desire them. His young friend, Richard, sat motionless, staring at the seat before him. The priest went about his duties.
Then, all at once, reality hit Richard in the face and he noticed that behind his seat and to the right was a child, two children, several children. If indeed this was to be the last moments of their short lives, Richard determined, he would make sure the children never knew it.

The young American rose to his feet and started to make faces at the kids. Horrible faces, ugly faces. Most of the youngsters laughed, but one did not. This boy, about the age of 5, became Richard’s focus. Richard stuck his tongue out. So did the boy. Richard did it again, making an awful face. The boy imitated him.
As the priest delivered last rites, Richard kept the children amused. None of them knew the earth was rushing up to meet their craft in spikes of ancient stone.

Meanwhile, the pilot had been amazed that the plane had cleared most of the rough crags that reached for the skies. One lone mountaintop was left to clear; their fate waited on its other side. By inches, the plane cleared that last mountain. What lay on the other side was a large cow pasture with soft, rolling grasses. The craft slid in on a cushion provided by Mother Nature – rough, but not the landing the pilot and most of the passengers had imagined.
Certainly not what either the priest or Richard had expected.

Those young children never knew how close they had approached Heaven’s gates, nor did many of them ever know the young, auburn-haired performer who kept that knowledge from them miles above the earth.

His name was Richard but we knew him as Red Skelton.

Skelton’s show business career began in his teens as a circus clown and went on to vaudeville, Broadway, films, radio, TV, clubs and casinos. He was also known as a painter.
It was 10 years ago when Red Skelton took his Final Taxi on September 17th 1997.

I remember Red as a child in the late 60’s. The Red Skelton Show began in 1951 on NBC as a comedy-variety show and then moved to CBS and made the Nielsen Top Twenty, where it stayed until its end in 1970 when it was cancelled. In the early 1980s a series of superb performances at Carnegie Hall received critical praise and briefly thrust him back into the public spotlight, but since his show seldom re-ran and is not syndicated, it is easy to forget his popularity. Based on longevity and audience size, The Red Skelton Show was the second most popular show in TV history (Gunsmoke is first).
I was recently talking to a twenty –four year old about Skelton and he did not know who I was talking about. That was a shame.

When I saw the story about him distracting the children on the plane I want Final Taxi readers to remember America’s famous clown.

Coffin Shopping

Being in Alabama I am also in college football country. I once had to go to a funeral for a co-worker’s father. It was known that he was a big Alabama Crimson Tide fan. He had tickets to all the games. Traveled to games out of state and when the team went to the bowl games. His truck was covered in “Roll Tide” stickers and the truck was of course red and white ( the team colors.) So when he died what did his coffin have on it but a “Roll Tide” football sticker and the coffin was red and white.

I’m not a football fan but I did have to say I liked that the family had a choice. It would not have been the deceased choice to be in a plain metal looking coffin.

It is a matter of choice that made Simon Dorgan and his partner, Paula Rainey Crofts open Heaven on Earth, Britain’s first designer death shop. The service actually treats death pretty much as a part of life.
With the funeral services, you can pre-order coffins of all shapes and sizes as well as for multiple uses long before they become your final resting place.

All of which appears seemingly rational given that coffins can be such an extravagance when one is already six feet under.

Instead of a mere oblong box, Dorgan has introduced a fascinating range of practical coffins that can double up for everyday use.
For instance, Croft’s mother (who is still very much alive) is storing her dancing shoes in her coffin. Others have turned theirs into linen chests or spice racks.

Indeed, the embodiment chests – as the couple prefer to call them – have been used as tabletops with board games, bookcases, CD cabinets or even shoe racks.
Such units would eventually return to their original purpose when the time comes, thus reducing funeral expenses while having served the owner well when alive.

One of the most talked about services is them sending your ashes up a space shuttle and have it ejected back to earth as a shooting star!
“That’s how Gene Rodenberry went,” Dorgan said, referring to Star Trek creator whose ashes were reportedly sent up in a space shuttle and fell back to earth as a shooting star.
He said his company could make arrangements for the ashes to be sent to the United States and blasted off into space.
A vial of the ashes would be ejected about 320km above earth, where it’ll burn out in the atmosphere and become a shooting star. “We haven’t got any such request in the UK yet. But you can actually have your ashes falling back from heaven to earth,” he quipped..

On the most unique coffin he has supplied so far, Dorgan listed a replica of Britain’s Red Arrows aerobatics jet as topping the list.

“It’s even got a cockpit, so you can see the person’s face,” he said, referring to the jet-shaped coffin.

He added that the coffin, with wings that could be folded up for burial, had been ordered by a Scottish woman in her 50s.A passionate fan of the Red Arrows, the woman – who is still alive – has a whole room dedicated to the world-famous aerobatics display team.
Dorgan said they got the idea of unusual coffins from Ghana, where a person is usually buried in one which denoted his occupation.

For example, a fisherman would be laid to rest in a wooden fish-shaped coffin, a pepper trader in a “giant pepper” replica and a businessman in a mock-up of a Mercedes Benz.
He said they had also painted coffins in football colors like Bristol City and Cardiff City football clubs.
“We’ve recently received an inquiry to build a coffin shaped like a chess piece of the king,” he said, adding that the person wanted to be buried as a chess king.
Heaven on Earth has come a long way since it was set up in Bristol in 1995, as bespoke funeral arrangers and gift shop.
The business was, in fact, born out of a misheard wish when Dorgan thought his partner wanted to open a “coffee-shop” instead of a “coffin-shop”. “Although it’s sad when we have to go, we try to concentrate on the celebration of a life, rather than mourning a death,” said Dorgan.

He said he is not only interested in the business of living well, but in dying well too.

PODCAST: The voice of Jaws and Airplane’s Lipstick Lady.

Direct Download MP3- Percy Rodriguez & Charlotte Zucker The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Percy Rodrigues, whose role as a neurosurgeon on the 1960s television series “Peyton Place” broke ground because he was cast as an authority figure when relatively few black actors were given such parts, has taken his Final Taxi at 89. He will be known by Star Trek fans as Commodore Stone in the original series but most have heard his voice in movie ads and voiceovers. His most popular would be for “Jaws.”

Charlotte Zucker was the mother of filmmakers David Zucker and Jerry Zucker (aka The Zucker Brothers) who appears in her sons’ movies, including Airplane!, Top Secret!, Ghost, My Boss’ Daughter, First Knight and The Naked Gun trilogy. In Airplane she was the ‘Lipstick Lady.”

Time runs out for Mickey Mouse watch designer

If you didn’t have one you knew someone that did. That something is a Mickey Mouse watch.mouse watch

Growing up I knew quite a few people who had one. It wasn’t just for kids. I did know an adult or two that hand one.

 Learning to tell time you would say,  “ Mickey’s big hand is on the 3 and the small one is on the 8.”

 The  person who design the first Mickey Mouse watch for grownups, Disney Imagineer Ralph Kent has taken his Final Taxi.. He was 68.

 In 1965, he designed the first limited-edition Mickey Mouse watch for adults, which Walt Disney presented to 25 of his top executives. Word quickly spread, and today, more than 100 adult watch designs are manufactured each year.

 Kent was a designer and teacher at the Walt Disney Company for 41 years.

 Born Ralph Kwiatkowski on January 28, 1939, he grew up in New York, where he fell “hopefully” under the spell of Disney animated motion pictures, particularly Pinocchio, because he identified with the puppet’s sense of awe, wonder, and magic.

 By age 10, he transformed the basement walls of his home into a giant mural of Disney characters ranging from Alice in Wonderland to Cinderella. Fixated on working for Disney, he decided to send a letter to Walt Disney, and received a courteous reply.

 Kent attended the University of Buffalo Albright Art School. In 1960, he joined the United States Army, illustrating military training aids and films.

 In 1963, his dream came true when, following his military discharge, he began working at Disneyland as a marketing production artist. He was hired to develop marketing materials for the Jungle Cruise, Enchanted Tiki Room and more. He worked with fellow Disney Legends Van Arsdale France and Dick Nunis, creators of Disney University, developing training materials for the company’s four attractions featured at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, including “It’s A Small World.”

 In 1971, he arrived at Walt Disney World, where he became a design leader and instructor for Walt Disney Imagineering. He designed souvenirs such as license plates, bumper stickers, and more for Disney World. How many people do you know who had bought one of those throughout the years?

 He was “an incredible individual” whose legacy will continue not just from his own designs, but from the designers whom he trained, said independent Disney author Lou Mongello, host of the WDW radio show podcast (

“Ralph was a dear friend to us, and an amazing artist,” said The Magical Mountain, a hobbyist/enthusiast Web site for Disney fans.
“More importantly, he was a fantastic person. He was always ready with a warm smile and his quick wit. He impacted so many lives positively, and his legacy will continue to do the same.”

Frozen Mom Visited Every Week By Daughters

When is it time to let go of your deceased love one and move on?

 I think that it depends on the person but at the emporium of G Saville & Son Funeral Directors  in London a decade is still not enough and that kind of disturbs your writer here at the Final Taxi.

For ten years the funeral parlor, in a busy shopping street in North-West London, has been receiving weekly visits from two middle-aged sisters.

 Valmai and Josephine Lamas visit separately but their purpose is the same. They come to see their mother, Annie, who died a decade ago aged 84.

 The body of the widow has been kept refrigerated on the premises on the instructions of her two daughters and is brought into the funeral parlour’s chapel of rest each weekend for the visits.

 This bizarre, but entirely legal, arrangement has cost the sisters an estimated £13,600 in fees, replacement coffins – there have been five so far – and “make-up”, including lipsticks and foundation, for their mother.

 It is understood that the remains of Mrs Lamas are barely recognizable now.

 When she died in 1997, the body was preserved with formaldehyde but it has deteriorated to such an extent that it is largely skeletal with some skin remaining on the upper half and head.

 But that has not deterred her children. Valmai Lamas, 59, a bank worker who lives in a council flat in Harrow, three miles from the funeral parlor, visits every Saturday lunchtime to sit silently beside the coffin.

 Josephine, a 66-year-old from Chiswick, West London, who works in catering, is said to attend to her mother’s make-up, lovingly applying foundation and touches of lipstick and refreshing padding in her stomach cavity.

 And the rituals would have continued had it not been for a family member speaking out.

 The relative, who has not been named, was quoted as saying: “Enough is enough. Valmai and Josie have been diligently visiting their mother’s corpse for more than ten years but it is getting ridiculous now.

 “The body has degraded to the extent that it is just a skeleton with a bit of stretched scaly skin on the head.

“It’s horrific – like a character from a horror film that has had all its blood drained by a vampire.

 “What makes it even more creepy is that the sisters still make up their mum’s gaunt leathery face with lipstick and foundation.

 “They don’t seem to think what they’re doing is in any way bizarre. But it’s disturbing.”

 It is a view echoed by Anglican vicar the Reverend Francis Adu-Boachie, whose church and graveyard stand directly opposite the funeral parlor.

 Mr Adu-Boachie, who has been vicar of St John the Evangelist, Wembley, for six years, said: “I did not know this was happening but I worry what this is doing to the two daughters.

 “They are in denial and it cannot be helping them in their grieving process. Perhaps they are numb to it now after ten years but I hope it ends for their sake.

 “I have never heard of anything like this before. It is not like visiting a grave at all, it is a denial that death has happened. Most troubling.”

 It is believed the extraordinary situation arose after Mrs Lamas’s daughters refused to accept that her death in 1997 was caused by a deep vein thrombosis.

 According to family sources, they wanted a second opinion and asked G Saville & Son to keep the body in cold storage until they were ready to arrange her funeral.

 But that day has never come. Instead, the daughters have paid £20 a week in fees, spent £2,000 on replacing four coffins as each rotted away, and £800 on make-up.

 Undertaker Philip Saville is quoted as saying: “We are simply acting on the family’s wishes and keeping Annie ‘alive’ in this way, for visiting seems to be what they want to do.

 “No health and safety violations have been breached and the corpse does not smell.

 “There are no laws saying people can’t keep a corpse for years after registering the death, though it is normal to bury the body after just two weeks.”

 The firm declined to comment further yesterday, claiming “client confidentiality”.

 Neither of the sisters could be contacted to talk about their weekly pilgrimages or the future of their mother’s remains.

 But Valmai Lamas is said to have told reporters: “I have always been a private person and I am not interested in discussing any issues of my life.”

 A spokesman for the National Association of Funeral Directors said the family had done “absolutely nothing wrong” in legal terms. 

He added: “It is a private matter for the family. As far as we are aware, all the legalities have been complied with.

 “The law says that provided there is not a health and safety issue from a body remaining unburied, there is no reason why they cannot do this.

 “If there was any risk to public health, the environmental health department would have been involved. There has been no risk.”

I think it is time these ladies get much needed counseling.