No Coffin Sitters in Schenectady!

Coffin Sitter

In digging all this old stuff up, we run across all kinds of oddities that are fascinating, yet trivial. If we can’t figure out something more to say about a little snippet, can’t tell some of the story of the people, businesses or buildings involved, then we’re likely to just let it pass. But this one, from the Albany Evening News of Dec. 9, 1932, we couldn’t let pass.

Coffin Sitter May Not Sit In Schenectady Road Grave

State Trooper Comes Along as Ray Richards Starts Digging Pit and Explains Stunt Is Against Law

Ray Richards of Pikesville, Pa., has a coffin and everything, but no grave to put it in, with himself inside, even though he is willing to go to the extreme of digging his own. Richards, who explained he is training to win a contract at the Worlds Fair in Chicago, was prepared to stage his self burial stunt in a gravel pit at Stop 26, Albany-Schenectady Road, when State Trooper Andrew H. Clough ambled up on his motorcycle.

“What are you doing there, friend?” Trooper Clough inquired. “Digging a grave,” Richards replied.

“And what’s this?” the trooper went on, nudging the coffin with his boot.

Richards put down his pick and shovel and explained to the trooper that he was going to get in the coffin, have the lid screwed down tight and then have himself buried in the grave, all but the opening of a periscope, through which he was to get sufficient air to breath[e], and enough nourishment to keep him alive.

“I’m out to break the world’s record for being buried alive, which is 38 days, 11-1/2 hours,” Richards informed the trooper.

“Oh, no,” answered Clough, “not here you’re not. The show is off. And you better get this stuff out of here or the kids will steal it.”

Richards announced he would seek a permit from somebody or other, but Clough declared the state law was clear on the point.

“Anyway, buddy,” he consoled, with a parting pat of Richards’ shoulder, “you’d be mighty lonesome down there. And suppose a mouse ran down that thingomibob? What a thrill!”

While this was picked up in several newspapers, we find no other mention of Ray Richards, no other mention of a self-burial contest at the Chicago World’s Fair, and no mention of why Mr. Richards, of Pikesville, Pa., thought a vacant lot on the Albany-Schenectady Road was the place to practice his stunt.

 

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