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kpurvis

The Great Sendoff, Part II

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Hey, Joyce. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

I'm working on a book on funeral foods in America, and would also like to hear about these foods in the churches you worked with for your books. Do you know anything about burial societies? I know they were common in small Southern communities well into the 20th century. These were very formal organizations, with rules, committees and dues that were used to provide a grave and tombstone.

In some of the information on these societies, I've seen descriptions of women wearing aprons as part of their "funeral uniform," and yet I've seen nothing on who provided the food. What have you heard about burial societies, and particularly about the food role? Was the food included as part of the group's service, or did it remain a voluntary thing, brought by neighbors and family members?

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Hi Kpurvis,

Surprised. I thought I had heard just about everything about the Old South from my father during my childhood, usually when we sat out on the porch on summer nights, listening to him tell stories. He worked on the docks in Mobile for years and had been a seaman as a young man.

But I don't recall anything about burial societies, and piqued by the subject, I called my oldest brother, who lives down in Gulfport/Biloxi. No help there either.

But as I posted earlier, food is a very important aspect of African-American funerals. Usually the food is prepared by friends and neighbors, and the repast is generally held after the burial, with loved one gathering to eat and drink and reminisce, sending the departed on that final journey.

I will continue to look into the burial societies; what an interested topic. Good luck with your book.

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