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People sometimes say: John, your Maine stories are amusing and fun to listen to, but, let’s face it, there’s not much truth to any of them, is there?
Maybe you’re right. A lot of Maine stories tell of people being thrown overboard from lobster boats, canoes or kayaks There are other stories about people falling off roofs or being chased by a moose or a bear and most of those stories don’t seem to have a ring of truth to them.
But something I read in the paper just the other day got me to wondering about how much truth there might be in some of our well-known Maine stories.
In a popular Down East story, a husband awakens one morning to find that his wife, Effie, has died right there in bed beside him sometime during the night.
At first he’s not sure so he administers the trusty foggy mirror test, holding a mirror up to her nostrils for a minute or two. Turns out, Effie was not able to fog the mirror, so the husband assumed she was dead. The husband then goes out to the barn and makes a beautiful pine coffin for his late wife.
When finished, he and his sons bring the coffin into the house and up the stairs to the bedroom. They placed their “deceased” mother into the coffin, took the coffin downstairs to put it in the back of the pickup to take her to Minzey’s Funeral home in town. Not looking as closely as they should have at where they were going they managed to slam the coffin into a fencepost at the edge of the dooryard. With the jolt the coffin and gave the husband and the boys quite a surprise, as you might imagine.
The story in the paper the other day told of a Lexington Mississippi man whose family assumed he was dad because he showed no signs of life and had no pulse. They called the coroner who arrived, agreed with the family’s conclusion, declared the man deader than a doornail and called the funeral home..
The “deceased” was then shipped off to the Porter and Sons Funeral home in town to prepare him for burial. "I stood there and watched them put him in a big, heavy body bag and zip it up," Eddie Hester, Williams' nephew, told the a reporter.
Like the father and his sons in the Down East story, the staff at the Porter and Sons Funeral home got quite a surprise when the presumed deceased man awoke inside a body bag as he was being prepared for embalming and started thrashing around quite violently..
In the Down East story the wife, who was none too pleased to wake up in a coffin, even a beautiful coffin that her husband just made for her, jumps out and goes on with her life, giving her husband almost daily reminders of the unfortunate “coffin incident.”
‘I was there and watched them put him in a body bag and zip it up said," Eddie Hester, who is Williams' nephew.
Williams apparently wasn't ready to go. "He was not dead," funeral director Byron Porter told reporters, calling the experience a first.
After being let out of the body bag,Williams was quickly rushed to a local hospital emergency room for treatment. And the funeral home called his grieving family to offer them some shocking but happy news that, indeed, Williams was alive, with the coroner deeming the incident “a miracle.”
His family agreed, describing the ordeal as a "resurrection." They were thanking the Lord that their loved one had not died after all.
They say Williams, who has a pacemaker, is doing much better and filled with energy. "I don't know how long he's gonna grace us and bless us with his presence, but hallelujah, we thank Him right now," one relative told a reporter.
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at or 899-1868.
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