SERIES – Harry Golden: LA Cemeteries

PART FIVE: Excerpted from “Los Angeles, Los Angeles” by Harry Golden, circa 1960. harry_small

“(In Los Angeles,) the Jewish cemetery has billboards advertising plots with the single word, “Foreverness,” and the Christian cemetery (owned by the same syndicate) advertises with a similar billboard and the single word, “Devotion.” The chapels of both are air-conditioned, with flourescent lighting in all crypts, and a Muzak which plays Bach and Schubert for the Christians, Verdi and Rossini for the Jews.”

THOUGHTS: I’m pretty sure he’s referring to Forest Lawn and Mount Sinai here, and I’ll confess I haven’t spent much quality time in either so I can’t report on the current status of their muzak or crypt lighting. I was driving to the LA Fair last month and I did notice a billboard for Forest Lawn in Covina that got my attention, though. The billboard showed a photo of an old woman… and then next to her the headline said something like: “26 year old football linebacker, father, son.” Confusing, right? See, that’s the point… the payoff tagine underneath said, “Don’t have someone else’s funeral.” Ahah! I get it!

Moral of the story, I guess people nowadays don’t expect quite as much “devotion” and “foreverness.” They just really want to make sure the mortuary’s gonna give them their money’s worth and get their names right on the tombstone. Sigh. Our expectations of customer service have really been sadly lowered over the last 50 years…

COMING ON THURSDAY… THE EPILOGUE: Harry Golden on LA

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2 Responses to “SERIES – Harry Golden: LA Cemeteries”

  1. Kim S. says:

    Its the same thing Ive been saying for years. Customer Service is rubbish now and has been since the 80s. It was then when corporate revenue started to be seen as something we (the consumer) should donate to. Now the feeling is “well the corporation has to get paid too, so what if their products are junk and the Customer Service is horrible. Without them America would be nothing.” Pardon my bitterness.

    • lynnster says:

      Quite all right. I have my moments like that too. The other day I actually found myself repeatedly thanking someone for helping me quickly and not being mean to me… and afterwards I thought about it… wait a minute, that’s their JOB!!! Yet it seemed such a rare thing, I just couldn’t get over how easy and pleasant life was for a minute there. I’ve gotten so used to customer service being such a struggle.

      When you think about it though… shouldn’t it be *expected* that a mortuary won’t give you the wrong funeral? At the very least?

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