Funeral Homes Running Ambulance Services



In the past, I've expressed my dismay over the number of Memphis funeral homes that also operated ambulances back in the "good old days." When I wrote about Jack Ruby Ambulance Service a few months ago, I noted that Ruby — perhaps one of our city's best-known ambulance drivers — got his start by working as a funeral director and was also, in fact, a licensed embalmer.

Such expertise, I said, didn't provide much comfort to nervous patients in those ambulances, and if you ask me, it was almost a business conflict. Was it really in the best interest of the funeral home to get those patients to the hospital on time — and therefore lose a paying customer? After all, I imagine the costs for a funeral service would be considerably higher than the cost of an ambulance ride.

Anyway, I thought I'd present you here with a couple of eye-catching advertisements I found in a 1949 city directory. You'll note that Thompson Brothers bragged they had "the only crematorium in the South" right below their announcement of "Ambulance Service." Yikes! And Spencer-Sturla (below) squeezed their own "AMBULANCE SERVICE" notice in between the description of their "efficient and sympathetic" funeral service and their "burial insurance plan ... a fitting tribute to the departed."

This is just so wrong. It would be like morticians sitting in the emergency rooms, with an embalming kit in their laps!


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